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and by many around the world. Before starting any revolution against that struc-
ture, I want to take care to consider the potential consequences.
But I have many questions about cataloging, and I believe we must face them
together and begin answering collectively. I therefore welcome the invitation to
speak here as an opportunity to begin that discussion. I need your advice, your
judgment, and that of others in the library and research communities to consider
what the technologies that all of us are now adopting mean for cataloging in the
future. I ask you to think of this evening as the rst step in a longer exploration
of a dicult issue.
Let me begin with a practical demonstration of the question’s importance—an
example of how digital-era students work.
Let us suppose that you are a librarian at a small college near the middle of
the continental United States. Let us even suppose that yours is the library whose
Web site I recently picked at random to see what digital resources it was oer-
ing. I am pleased to tell you that I was impressed. In addition to an electronically
searchable catalog of your own physical holdings, I found that you oer four-
teen EBSCOHost Online Databases, thirteen online databases from OCLC First
Search, eleven InfoTrac Online Databases, ve Lexis Nexis Online Databases,
three Proquest Online Databases, and at least nine other online resources, includ-
ing encyclopedias, dictionaries, electronic books, and materials for research on
current issues. Consequently, users of your library have online access to literally
hundreds of scholarly journals and other resources on all kinds of topics in a wide
range of academic elds.
Now let us suppose that I am one of your college’s students with a term paper
coming due. And let’s also suppose that I’ve been assigned to write about the for-
eign policy of President Fillmore. (I don’t know why I am using this subject as an
example, except that I can’t get out of my mind the name of an amusing recording
of political ditties that a friend recently told me about. It’s entitled “Sing Along
With Millard Fillmore.”)
Now, in the old days, I might have walked to your library, looked in an ency-
clopedia there for “Fillmore,” then searched your paper card catalog to identify
books on Fillmore, located these books by call number on a shelf, and looked
through their tables of contents and maybe indices to nd what they contained
on foreign policy. But today I don’t want to go to the library. I want to stay in
my cozy dorm room, where I have a computer, which your college may even have
provided me. So I decide to use it to do my research. One option, I nd, is to do
it through your library’s Web site.
I click on your library’s Web site (that is, on the Web site of the actual library
that I selected). ere I nd the term “Online Catalog,” and click on that. en I