- On the Concept of “Headin”
- No.13, p.67-88
When Japan Library Association made a general survey in 1972, a college library with holdings of over 200,000 volumes reported to have neither official nor public card catalog. It was, of course, an exceptional case, only one out of 67 responded college libraries of the same size. Twenty seven out of 332 public libraries with holdings of 10,000 to 39,999 volumes reported also to have no catalog.
This writer examined further what will be the place or role of catalogs in Japanese libraries, and found that the real problem is the existence of too much varied card catalogs (files). Sixty four out of 67 college libraries with over 200,000 volumes keep three or more kinds of catalogs (often each kind is filed in two ways according to the difference in languages).
Even the public libraries with holdings of 40,000 to 99,999 volumes keep mainly (105 out of 138 public libraries) three or more catalogs.
It is somewhat doubtful whether public catalogs are really meant for the benefit of the users, as Charles A. Cutter once prescribed in his rules. If we are aiming at the bibliographically complete one for a library catalog, it is decisively better, in the long run, to buy or copy National Diet Library's or other printed cards. When catalog is used, however, mainly as a tool for locating items in libraries, the local conditions and circumstances must be accounted for, especially in the choice of added entries.
It is needless to say that a design of a retrieval tool (in this case public catalog) without having the knowledge of users' needs is unrealistic. But very often in Japan, the way of compilation and maintenance of card catalogs (for locating the desirable items) are so formal that it is too troublesome for users to cope with them and gradually they come to lose the belief in catalog. Such cases happen partly due to the insufficient manpower to meet the outside needs, but also partly because of the overestimation of mechanization. Not a few libraries are making added entries instead of reference cards, because of easily available printed unit cards.
Retrospecting the concept of cataloging since the time of such librarians as Panizzi, Jewett and Cutter, the writer tries to introduce human dreams, namely setting up of Universal Brain or Universal Bibliographic Control, cherished by many pioneers and were thrown aside several times, but always came back. Implementation of such project as mentioned above, is unthinkable without series of Electronic Systems, National and International Registration Systems. Sufficiently staffed computerized center such as OCLC (Ohio College Library Center) will be much help for individual member libraries, but individual libraries cannot dispense with the provision of their own catalogs, unless the communities themselves are completely standardized to which libraries serve. The choice of entry words accessible to search (i. e. headings) should be done with the consideration of local conditions (library's policy and also manpower, etc).
The writer compares the practicability of New Draft of Cataloging Rules, proposed by the Japan Institution for Library Science, with the Nippon Cataloging Rules (Japan Library Association, 1965). New Draft is on so-called Description (and Statement) Unit-Card principle. Headings are afterwards added as needed. The choice of headings is rather mechanical (i. e. very easy even for a beginner) but tends to have more entries per title than when worked by current Nippon Cataloging Rules. Based on brief experimental observation, the writer suggests a few revision to the New Draft.