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60th IFLA General Conference - Conference Proceedings - August 21-27, 1994

IFLA Division of Bibliographic Control
Report of the Division, 1993 1994

Ross Bourne
The British Library, United Kingdom


The work of the Division during the past year, especially its participation in regional workshops and planning for a conference on national bibliographic services in 1997, is described.


The structure of IFLA is not always apparent to new, and even some well established, members. There are 46 professional groups, comprising 32 sections and 14 round tables, plus the five core programmes. These undertake the bulk of IFLA's professional work, whether this is carried out during the period of the annual conference or at other times of the year. Leaving aside for the moment the core programmes, the 46 sections and round tables are grouped by broad interest into eight divisions, such as management and technology, libraries serving the general public and regional activities. Those broad interest groupings are homogeneous to a greater or lesser extent; this Division, the Division of Bibliographic Control, has the dual advantage of being both relatively small it contains jus t three sections, compared with, say, Division III which has six sections and four round tables and more homogeneous than any of the other divisions. It is therefore possible for the Division's Coordinating Board that is, the six officers of the three sections to discuss a variety of issues and projects on a joint and co operative basis. Indeed, it is sometimes difficult to be altogether clear where the one section's concerns end and another's begin; and perhaps that does not particularly matter. One such concern is authority control, equally important to all three sections: Bibliography, Cataloguing and Classification & Indexing. .

The Coordinating Board oversees therefore the work that takes place within its component sections. While each section sets its own agenda and priorities, the Board examines these in the light of other activities. As chair of the Division, I have to defend sectional budgets at meetings of the Professional Board, which controls IFLA's professional budget. As this is, as I say, a more homogeneous Division than some, I feel able to do this with some confidence. .

This Division has been engaged in a series of regional workshops on the theme of universal bibliographic control. Regional workshops have been held so far in Rio de Janeiro (March 1993), Bucharest (August 1993) and Dakar (November 1993). A parallel workshop on UNIMARC alone took place in Budapest (June 1993); and by the time of this conference a joint UBC/UNIMARC workshop will have taken place in Vilnius (June 1994). A further workshop is planned for Accra early in 1995. At this point, the role of the Division in relation to the UBCIM Core Programme needs to be mentioned. The UBCIM Programme Officer will be making a presentation shortly, but although the core programmes operate independently of the professional groups the latter are encouraged to involve them in their work as much a s possible, and indeed it is one of my functions, as a member of the Professional Board, to maintain a watching brief on the work of the UBCIM programme. In practice, the Coordinating Board acts as an advisory committee to the UBCIM programme; again, the homogeneity of the Division and the closeness of its aims to those of UBCIM make this not only feasible but necessary. .

The value of these regional workshops has been that IFLA is seen to be visible and to be in a position to influence developments. From a personal point of view, I can say that although they are hard work they have been extremely rewarding, forcing one constantly to examine one's prejudices and assumptions. One of the most productive parts of the programmes has been the discussion groups, in whi ch the participants themselves can raise issues and interact with one another in a way that is not always possible in more formal sessions. But what is almost more important is what happens afterwards; a workshop will be held later this week on the recommendations arising from the Rio de Janeiro event, and it is hoped to hold a similar workshop in Istanbul next year, when the recommendations fro m the Bucharest event will be examined. IFLA in general and this Division in particular are very grateful for the external funding that has made this series of regional workshops possible. .

The Division is planning to organize a seminar on national bibliographic services for the 1997 general conference in Copenhagen. This seminar will take place twenty years after the seminal 1977 International Congress on National Bibliographies that was held in Paris under UNESCO auspices. Its aim will be to review and where necessary revise the recommendations of the 1977 congress in the light of subsequent and possible future developments, but it should be noted that the emphasis between 1977 and 1997 has shifted from national bibliographies to national bibliographic services, an acknowledgement of the fact that monolithic national bibliographies are giving way to more diverse arrangements. Between now and 1997 this Division's sections will be planning presentations in anticipation o f the forthcoming seminar; and moreover, we have invited other professional groups within IFLA also to contribute to this important event. .

My fellow members and I hope that you will attend the various programme sessions taking place during the coming week and that you will lose no opportunity to let us know what you think we should be doing.