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

IFLA Section on Bibliography:
Report of the Section, 1993 1994

Ross Bourne
The British Library, United Kingdom


The work of the Section over the past year is described.


The aim of the Section on Bibliography is to promote bibliographic activities in both theory and practice. Its objectives are to establish a forum for the discussion of questions concerning the principles of different types of bibliography, especially national bibliography; and to set guidelines and recommendations for the improvement of national bibliographic control and the international excha nge of bibliographic information, taking into account the effect of new technologies, the state of development of different countries and of users' needs.

The newly elected officers of the Section are Mr Ross Bourne of the British Library National Bibliographic Service (chair) and Ms Isabel Boudet of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (secretary). They are supported by a committee of seven members, plus three corresponding members and as Honorary Adviser, Ms Marcelle Beaudiquez, also of the BibliothÞque Nationale de France.

During the past year the Section's energies have been dedicated largely to joint projects with other sections within the Division of Bibliographic Control. It has participated in seminars on universal bibliographic control and UNIMARC (Dakar, Sénégal, in November and Vilnius, Lithuania, in June). It is leading the planning of a large scale conference on national bibliographic serv ices to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1997. It is especially concerned with the revision of the UBCIM Programme's publication Names of Persons.

At a more specific level, the chair of the Section is undertaking a project that is investigating the technological gap between developed and developing countries in the production of national bibliographies. To this end, he visited Vilnius, Lithuania, earlier this year, and it is hoped that another colleague, currently in Namibia, may be able to contribute her experience in southern Africa to t his study. The study should be concluded later this year and will be published in due course.

Two interesting papers are to be presented at the Section's Programme session later this week. One is by Samuel B Bandara of the University of the West Indies in Jamaica and will describe the project to establish a Caribbean Books in Print. The other paper is intended as an early contribution to the 1997 conference mentioned above; it is a paper on quality in national bibliographic services and has been written by Philip Bryant of UKOLN at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom.

The Section on Bibliography is concerned that many of its members come from the more developed world; indeed, its Standing Committee is entirely composed of librarians from Europe and the United States. But bibliography is not the prerogative of nations that can trade with hard currency and communicate with one another by electronic means. Bibliography is about being able to access the national memory as it has come to be recorded. If we do not have the means to find out what happened in the past, we have little chance to understand the future. Although there has in the recent past been a tendency to belittle bibliographic skills in my own country, bibliographic control is often an optional extra in the schools of librarianship and information science I have no doubt whatsoever t hat those skills are more necessary than ever before if we are to cope with the amounts and varieties of published information and attempt to organize it for the users in our libraries. That is no less true of areas such as Latin America and the Caribbean than it is of anywhere else in the world.

My Standing Committee and I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible and sharing our experience during the coming week.