Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln



Mary Bolin

Date of this Version



Published in Library Collections, Acquisitions, & Technical Services 24 (2000) 53–63. Copyright © 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. Used by permission.


The design of library catalogs and the maintenance of their contents equals catalog governance, that is, professional responsibility for the catalog. The design of library catalogs and their contents are an example of the standards that are the hallmark of modern librarianship. Although design and maintenance standards have always had an array of participants, in recent years the participants in catalog design and maintenance have become more numerous and varied, and therefore its governance has become more diffuse. Although the card catalog had a standard form in which design and maintenance were linked, that is not true of today’s OPAC in which the same content can take many different forms. Emerging standards, such as SGML, may actually provide a general solution in which OPACs have various, customized forms based on standard content and in which catalog librarians encode, maintain, and interpret the standard data and help guide the discussion of options for design. This article discusses the past and present governance of library catalog design and maintenance and explores issues in a “programmatic” model of governance for the catalog.