Recent Developments in Cataloging Researches and Practices in the National Library of China

by Ben Gu, Director of the Acquisitions & Cataloging Department, NLC


    The National Library of China was active in compiling and revising cataloging standards and rules in the past several years.

    In cooperation with other major libraries in China, NLC staff revised the Descriptive Cataloguing Rules for Western Language Materials, which is a Chinese counterpart to AACR2 and was original published in 1985. The revised and expanded edition was published in 2003.

    During 2001-2003, the National Library of China organized an editorial committee to revise the UNIMARC-based CNMARC Manual (Bibliographical Format) to replace the original edition as a standard of the Ministry of Culture published in 1996. In the revised edition, some fields not used in China have been deleted and some locally defined fields for Chinese materials have been added. The revised edition was published in 2004, and will become a national standard in a couple of years.

    In 1996, the first edition of Chinese Cataloging Rules was published. It was the first of its kind in China and has played an important role in the standardization of library cataloging practices in China. However, the old edition was not sufficiently discussed before its publication, and used quite a lot of Chinese practices not compatible with internationally accepted standards and rules. In 2002, NLC began to organize a revision committee composed of NLC staff and experts from other institutions. The revised edition was published in 2005. During the revision, there were quite a lot of controversies mainly focused on the internationalization and Chinese local characteristics. Anyway, the revised edition has make remarkable progress in the internationalization, although we still have much to do in the future. With the development of the compilation of AACR3/RDA, I think, we will consider another revision in the future.

    NLC is also compiling a user's manual of MARC21, which is expected to be published in July 2005. Although there is a Chinese manual for the USMARC bibliographical format, there have been neither Chinese translations of MARC21, nor a Chinese manual for MARC21 before. This MARC21 format manual will include bibliographical format and authority format. Together with the manual for holding format published in 2003, there will be three Chinese manuals for MARC21.

    In China, libraries use two MARC formats, i.e. MARC21 and CNMARC. Most small-sized libraries use UNIMARC-based CNMARC for all materials. For large-sized libraries that have sizable collections in foreign languages, they prefer USMARC/MARC21 to CNMARC with the consideration of international compatibility and easy record downloading. Therefore, both CNMARC and MARC21 user manuals will be important tools in cataloging.

    NLC librarians are also paying attention to the recent developments of FRBR researches, the revision/compilation of AACR3/RDA and issues related to metadata. I think there will be more results to come in the near future and the practices of cataloging and resource description in NLC will develop in a better way.

SCATNews : Newsletter of the Standing Committee of the IFLA Cataloguing Section, ISSN 1022-9841, Number 23 (June 2005), p. 10-11.

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