Monday, April 02, 2007

Library of Congress to Outsource Auxiliary Cataloging Functions

Washington, D.C.
March 30, 2007

The Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access Directorate of the United States Library of Congress this morning announced a new initiative for its cataloging workflow. A pilot program -- expected to launch by late spring -- will involve outsourcing several resource description operations to Mountain View, California-based Google.

Under the new arrangement, MARC records for titles from Google Book Search publishing partners will be created by the Google indexing system. The original cataloging of these works will be accomplished automatically by a software program.

“Think of it as an electronic brain,” said Richard Sumner, a Google representative speaking about the computing equipment involved in the new alliance. “Our artificial intelligence systems can fully handle descriptive and subject cataloging.”

A senior administration official at the Library of Congress, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the pilot program has the potential to expand to the point of eliminating the need for any professional catalogers. The source also mentioned plans to migrate the OPAC to LibraryThing and turn the American Memory site into a Wiki.

ALA president Laura Schlessinger could not immediately be reached for comment about the announcement.


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