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66th IFLA Council and General
|ISBD(M)||1st ed. 1974
|ISBD(G)||1st ed. 1977
|ISBD(S)||1st ed. 1977
|ISBD(NMB)||1st ed. 1977
|ISBD(CM)||1st ed. 1977
|ISBD(ER)||1st ed. 1990
|ISBD(A)||1st ed. 1980|
|ISBD(PM)||1st ed. 1980
|Components Parts||1st ed 1988|
(For fuller citations for these publications, see http://archive.ifla.org/VI/3/nd1/isbdlist.htm/ )
In the early 1990s, the Cataloguing Section appointed the Study Group on the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR). The immediate consequence of this development was to suspend any revision work on the ISBDs while the FRBR Group pursued its charge to "recommend a basic level of functionality and basic data requirements for records created by national bibliographic agencies." Also dropped pending the outcome of the FRBR study was a project then in progress to identify the components of a "Concise ISBD(M)", that is, the minimal bibliographic features of an acceptable record, because it was expected that FRBR's findings would in effect provide such a base-line. During this period, the ISBD Review Group became the ISBD Maintenance Group, a change of name reflecting its decision to deal only with ISBD problems that needed attention prior to issuance of the FRBR recommendations.
In 1998, theFRBR Study Group did publish its Final Report after its recommendations were approved by the IFLA Section on Cataloguing's Standing Committee (available at: http://archive.ifla.org/VII/s13/frbr/frbr.htm/ ). At that time the ISBD Review Group was reconstituted to resume its traditional work. Cataloguing's Standing Committee agreed that the ISBD Review Group should initiate a full-scale review of IFLA's "family of ISBDs" to ensure conformity between the provisions of the ISBDs and those of FRBR - in particular, to achieve consistency with FRBR's data requirements for the "basic level national bibliographic record."
In the ISBDs, national bibliographic agencies are requested to "prepare the definitive description containing all the mandatory elements set out in the relevant ISBD insofar as the information is applicable to the publication being described." To facilitate implementation of this principle, the ISBDs designate as "optional" those data elements which are not mandatory when applicable; in the case of particular ISBDs, see the Outline (0.3) to ascertain which data elements are optional. Therefore, the main task in reconciling the requirements of the existing ISBDs with the FRBR recommendations for the "basic level national bibliographic record" has entailed a review of the ISBD data elements which are mandatory to make optional any which are optional in FRBR. (In no case is a data element mandatory in FRBR but optional in the ISBDs.)
The ISBD Review Group concluded its review of the International Standard Bibliographic Description for Monographic Publications (ISBD(M)), last revised in 1987. The changes which the Review Group proposed to make in the next iteration of this standard were posted on IFLANET at http://archive.ifla.org/VII/s13/frbr/isbd?chg.htm/. The availability of the proposal was widely announced on appropriate electronic discussion lists, and those with comments were asked to reply by July 15th.
The ISBD for Serials and the ISBD for Cartographic Materials are currently in progress of revision, largely for the purpose of incorporating provisions to deal with electronic versions of publications within the scope of these ISBDs. As a result, the Review Group has provided an indication of changes these ISBDs will need to incorporate for conformity to FRBR. The Review Group will pursue revision of the other ISBDs this year and next. Procedures are essential in all standardization work in order to ensure that the steps by which a document becomes a new or revised standard are well known and meticulously accomplished. The ISBDs are no exception to this rule. As a result, at the 1989 IFLA Conference, the Section on Cataloguing agreed to the schedule and procedures set out below for development and distribution of documents.
Normally, initiation or revision of an ISBD will result from work accomplished by a Working Group appointed by the Section on Cataloguing's Standing Committee either singly or in conjunction with other IFLA sections. Indeed, in view of recent developments, it is well to stress here that it is the Section on Cataloguing which enjoys "ownership" of the ISBD program. Other Sections or groups which would like to propose new or changed ISBDs are not free to undertake such ventures on their own: they need to begin the process by communicating recommendations to Cataloguing.
The chair of the Working Group bears primary responsibility for generally conforming with the overall schedule for the preparation, review, and publication of documents, as follows:
Following the conclusion of a world-wide review, the chairperson of the Working Group, in consultation with the other members of the Working Group, are instructed to consider the comments received and to revise the draft text accordingly, although the Working Group as a whole retains authority for deciding on the disposition of comments and on the contents of the resulting text.
Once the Working Group is satisfied with the draft it is forwarded to the chairperson of the ISBD Review Committee which reviews the text for general conformance to the overarching ISBD principles and particular conformance to the provisions of ISBD(G). The chairperson of the Working Group will prepare a final text, incorporating, as required, revisions identified by the ISBD Review Committee. At that point the new or revised ISBD is ready for balloting. When a final text is ready for voting the chairperson of the Working Group will send an original master copy of the document together with a brief description (for incorporation in the covering letter) to the UBCIM Programme officer. The UBCIM Programme Director is responsible for arranging for distribution of copies to all regular members (i.e. excluding corresponding and honorary member) of the Standing Committee of the Section on Cataloguing and of the Standing Committee(s) of any other sponsoring Section(s), unless as sometime happens this task is handled by the Working Group chair under the Programme Director's supervision. If the majority vote is affirmative, the Programme Director will proceed to establish arrangements for publication. If the majority vote is negative, the chairperson of the Section will consult with the Standing Committee to determine what course of action to pursue.
As mentioned, the procedures just described have been in place for more than a decade and antedate the advent of electronic communications which are now possible for conducting business on the Internet. Today, as is well known, it is easy to dispatch even long documents almost instantaneously to colleagues throughout much of the world and to exchange correspondence without the considerable delays often encountered when using postal systems for international mailing. It is also routine to mount a document on a web site and to conduct professional exchanges as members of electronic discussion networks, often called "listservs". Because of the economy which the Internet provides, both in relation to postage saved and in terms of time saved in distributing documentation, the ISBD Review Group has become interested in modifying its procedures. As already pointed out, the Group decided on an experimental effort to handle the recent revision of ISBD(M) to incorporate the FRBR recommendations using the web as the primary vehicle for conducting the world-wide review. The proposed changes were posted prominently on IFLANET and their availability for study and comment was announced on IFLANET and several other electronic lists. Since the proposed changes were considered likely not to be controversial the Group decided to set the review period at four months. No doubt a longer comment period will be needed for new ISBDs and for major revisions, and perhaps the UBCIM office will need to help the Group establish which individuals and groups entitled to participate in a review might not have Internet access. These and any other concerns will be further explored, and we would be glad to have input on these efforts to modernize the distribution and approval processes.
IFLA needs to accept its responsibilities to maximize the opportunities which today's technology offers by way of improving the interchange of information and views in its cataloguing standardization work. Not only will projects benefit from more timely development but also the technology will save considerable costs in terms of reproducing draft texts and purchasing their delivery. Beyond these considerations, improved procedures are needed to enable IFLA to maintain its cataloguing leadership. Such standards as the ISBDs have guided the work of national cataloguing committees in updating their codes to foster internationally accepted practices. Today's publications patterns are changing, largely as a result of the electronic environment in which we increasingly function. Not only are there new bibliographic situations to consider, but not every bibliographic practice already in place continues to be as useful now as it was formerly. As a result, AACR and RAK, to name but two of the world's most prominent cataloguing codes, are engaged on major revision projects. The challenge to IFLA is to be sure that these code revision projects continue to recognize the need and importance of international harmonization and do not unfold in isolation. The ISBD Review Group must assist the Cataloguing Section at least in the area of bibliographic description by initiating communications with groups revising national cataloguing rules to seek their input and cooperation in maintaining an internationally acceptable framework. No doubt the national code revision projects will have many suggestions by way of improving the ISBDs, and IFLA should welcome this possibility as a means of ensuring the vitality of its own standards. Therefore, it is necessary for IFLA to recognize the need to resume leadership in coordinating these projects with its own standardization efforts and to rekindle commitments of national libraries and national cataloguing committees to cooperation in maintaining bibliographic practices that will enable exchange of cataloguing data in the cost-effective manner which will benefit users throughout the world. Modern procedures for standards development and review will play a major role in enabling the Cataloguing Section and its Review Group to meet this challenge. Your comments on these thoughts would be most welcome as planning and re-tooling continue to advance.