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News & Notes

Current Issue: January - March 2014   |    Previous Issues    |   Submit a Tidbit

Cataloging News


What’s happening in the world of map cataloging? During the month of February and leading into March, there’s quite a bit going on with actual and proposed changes to RDA, which I will share shortly. And of course, the American Library Association recently held its annual Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia at the end of January so I do have some notes to share about the two Map and Geospatial Information Round Table (MAGIRT) cataloging bodies and their activities. Plus look for a couple of “newsy” items at the end.


Both the MAGIRT Cataloging and Classification Committee and the ALCTS/CaMMS MAGIRT Cartographic Resources Cataloging Interest Group held well-attended meetings in Philadelphia as part of overall MAGIRT activities. I had the pleasure to attend and contribute to both of them, and recall attendance at the MAGIRT CCC meeting at about fifteen or sixteen, and the Interest Group meeting was overflowing with more than twenty attending. Very heartening was the number of non-MAGIRT members present at the IG meeting (and yes, we did some recruiting!). Here are very brief, non-comprehensive, discussions and other activities from the two meetings — look for complete reports from the two Chairs of these groups to be published in the next issue of MAGIRT’s newsletter, baseline:

MAGIRT Cataloging and Classification Committee (Chair, Susan Moore, Univ. of Northern Iowa)

Nancy Kandoian shared an update to the forthcoming cataloging manual, Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials: Cartographic, which now appears to be slated for publication later in 2014 as the editorial team works through last situations and finalizes all text.

Paige Andrew, substituting for Mary Larsgaard as the MAGIRT liaison to AACCCM, read a status report from Mary about recent decisions regarding Cartographic Materials: A Manual of Interpretation for AACR2, 2002 Revision and the body who created it, the Anglo-American Cataloguing Committee for Cartographic Materials. In essence, members of AACCCM have decided against pursuing yet another revision to CM based on RDA, noting that a forthcoming manual by Andrew, Larsgaard and Susan Moore will serve catalogers well as the RDA cataloging manual combined with continuing to use many practical aspects of CM. Due to this decision, the AACCCM is moving towards disbanding this longstanding group, which cannot happen until aspects of selling remaining copies of CM have been completed by ALA.

There were reports from other liaisons heard as well (OCLC, LC, IFLA, MARBI etc.). Additionally, a couple of MAGIRT CCC subcommittees are continuing their work, notably a “best cataloging practices in RDA” committee aiming to create a helpful document in the near future.

MAGIRT Cartographic Resources Cataloging Interest Group (Chair, Marc McGee, Harvard Univ.)

The purpose of this group is to bring together those interested and/or involved in cartographic resources cataloging, and thus topics of discussion can be wide ranging. The Chair of this group most-usually brings at least one topic to the meeting to kick off discussions, and therefore Marc opened things with asking how the WEMI (work, expression, manifestation, item) model is reflected within the catalog record, especially at the “work” level. A few other discussion topics included:

  • Linked open data, and especially how it might relate to geographic name authority records
  • Use of geographic coordinates in authority records
  • Search interfaces and the use and role of geographic coordinates in catalog records for spatial searching


As noted at the outset, this was one of the best-attended, if not the best attended MAGIRT IG meeting ever and therefore a lot of useful information (as well as opinions) were shared amongst the attendees.


An announcement or two at the beginning hailed forthcoming changes to RDA, most notably that the latest revisions were to arrive soon, and in two stages. In February the Toolkit was updated to introduce a number of JSC “fast track” changes that had been completed since the Nov. 2013 JSC meeting and update of the Toolkit. These are changes that take care of typographical and similar minor errors in the text of the instructions and/or examples as well as proposals received that could be quickly agreed upon. Probably the biggest impact of this update to cartographic resources catalogers is the introduction of a new Relationship Designator; cartographer (expression). It is defined as “A person, family, or corporate body contributing to an expression of a work by providing additional cartography, or by modifying the previous cartography”.

The next update to the RDA Toolkit is due out in April 2014 and in recent weeks the JSC Secretary has been sharing specific files of reports via the RDA-L list. One of these will have a major impact on our descriptive practice of abbreviating place names in the place of publication (or production, distribution or manufacture) element in the 264 field. The British Library has proposed eliminating the abbreviation practices of geographic place names, not only in this field but also in the creation of headings and in access points in the record. Their proposal,  titled “Revision of,,,,,,,,, B.1, B.11 to eliminate use of abbreviations for places, British Library Follow-up” (file name 6JSC/BL/10/BL follow-up), was accepted at the November 2013 JSC meeting and in December became part of a working document for the JSC Working Group on Places. It remains to be seen how many elements in the proposal will be worked into a larger effort to make changes to all aspects regarding place names in RDA but it seems apparent to me that sweeping changes in this regard will likely happen by the end of 2014, including the elimination of Table B.11.


Update on book RDA and Cartographic Resources:  

As reported earlier, the authors of this forthcoming map cataloging book has hoped to see it published in time for release at the upcoming ALA Annual Conference in June. Both Susan and I had an opportunity to separately talk to ALA Editions marketing personnel at the recent ALA Midwinter Meeting in January and were told that demand for our book is high and therefore the marketing folk hoped also to get this out to customers sooner rather than later. They also were clear about not having a role in the work and decisions made about publication deadlines.  Since returning to work from that conference, in February we received word from our book editor that most likely our book will be published no sooner than September 2014, which was disappointing news. In the meantime, we are recently completed a round of minor changes throughout the text based on a request from our book editor (to include mentioning the possible change to RDA noted above about abbreviation practices for place names, which he of course is not aware of). We will next get a copyedited draft to review in the near future, return any suggested changes back to ALA Editions, and later receive final proofs to look over before it moves into the printing stage. So, like all of you who have ordered a copy, we’re frustrated, but there isn’t anything we can do about it except see this through the final steps. Stay tuned!

Cooperative Map Cataloging Initiative:

Slightly more than half of the CIC (otherwise known as the Big Ten universities, though by next year we will be fourteen in number) libraries banded together last summer after the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago and under Christopher Cronin’s leadership formed the CIC Cataloging Language Expertise Study Group. Although I was not an original member, my colleague John Attig asked me to join this group because of the expectation of moving from identifying foreign language expertise (most especially non-Roman script languages) residing in catalogers from the eight participating libraries to a cooperative cataloging effort based on those skills. The transformation from identifying language gaps amongst the libraries to moving into a cooperative cataloging situation began in January with the universities of Minnesota and Iowa and Penn State University organizing to work together on cataloging maps. Penn State maps catalogers plus additional staff with expertise in the CJK languages and Arabic will be cataloging a maximum of 120 maps over a one-year period for Minnesota and Iowa’s collections as part of a pilot project. It is exciting to know that maps catalogers are the first cooperative project to come out of this effort, even before other libraries organize to work on monographs and A/V materials! Once the pilot has ended we do not know what the future holds, but we are also collecting data regarding how long it takes to complete a host of activities so that a report can be generated that will hopefully help answer the decades-long question of “how much does it cost to catalog a map?” and at least partially answer “how many maps should a cataloger be able to do in a day [or week, month, etc.]?”

To wrap this up I would like to do my next column based on a compilation of cartographic resources cataloging projects from a variety of institutions. This could include cataloging projects of specific collections in a given library, participation in or planning to participate in cooperative cataloging programs such as NACO or BIBCO, map cataloging workshops, presentations, etc. that were recently given or planned on providing, and similar. Let’s share what is going on across the WAML membership relating to any aspect of cataloging so that perhaps a bigger picture emerges of activities across western U.S. map collections. And who knows, perhaps we could formulate our own WAML cooperative map cataloging initiative in which those with expertise can assist those in need. Please send me a descriptive paragraph or two in the next four to six weeks and if I get enough contributions I will create a column devoted to this single topic. I look forward to hearing from you!

Paige G. Andrew
Maps Cataloging Librarian
Pennsylvania State University
  and Co-Editor, Journal of Map & Geography Libraries



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Last modified: March 21, 2014
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