Transcaucasian Workshop: Universal Bibliographic Control and UNIMARC

Tbilisi, Georgia, 3-5 October 1999

Following several worldwide UBCIM seminars and workshops, it was decided to organize a regional meeting for the Transcaucasian republics after colleagues had reported problems in the field of systematization and standardization. The lack of experience and knowledge in the creation and management of national bibliographic systems had also been a source of concern in the region. According to local participants, the workshop was the first international high level professional meeting of this kind held in the region since the split of the USSR and the independence of the three republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. It was preceded by a local preliminary workshop on 10 -11 September 1999. The meeting was organized jointly by the Library Automation Association of Georgia (LAAG) and the IFLA UBCIM Programme and its Permanent UNIMARC Committee (PUC). The venue was the Central Scientific Library of the Georgian Academy of Sciences in Tbilisi. The main organizers were Mr. Irakli Garibashvili, Executive Director of LAAG (assisted by Ms. Irina Chanturishvili from the US Embassy-Tbilisi and Mr. Aleksander Loria from SS Orbeliani Pedagogical University) and Ms. Marie-France Plassard, IFLA UBCIM.

The main sponsor, whose support enabled participation from international speakers and regional delegates, was the Open Society Foundation (Soros). Additional sponsors were the US National Commission for Library and Information Science (NCLIS), the Georgian Academy of Sciences and IFLA UBCIM.

The aims of the Workshop were:

  • to become familiar with the trends in Universal Bibliographic Control, in the area of cooperation and the use of information and communication technologies
  • to gain further experience in the UNIMARC format
  • to examine the situation of bibliographic control in the region and to identify problems and barriers to bibliographic control and possible solutions
  • to formulate proposals for strengthening bibliographic control and to promote cooperation in the region.

About 60 participants came from various institutions and organizations in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Librarians, publishers and a few students were in the audience. The generous hospitality of the hosts and sponsors was very much appreciated by all participants who also enjoyed the cultural programme and visits to the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia and the former capital, Mchkheta.

After greetings from LAAG (Mr. Teimuraz Chkhenkeli, President) and IFLA, the professional programme started by a comprehensive presentation of the Role of the National Bibliographic Agency by Ms. Barbara Bell (College of Wooster, Ohio, USA and member of the standing committee of the IFLA Section on Bibliography). This was followed by a report on Universal Bibliographic Control and IFLA standards by Ms. Plassard. Ms. Mirna Willer (National and University Library, Zagreb, Croatia and Chair of the PUC) then explained the structure, use and future development of the UNIMARC Format for Authorities.

The second day was devoted to some reports from the region: the Georgian experience in cataloguing non-roman materials (by Mr. Irakli Garibashvili) as well as Armenian scripts in bibliographic databases and Armenian libraries at the turn of the 21st century (by Mr. Tigran Zargaryan, Yerevan State University Library). Of great interest to the participants was the Baltic experience presented by Ms. Regina Varniene, Deputy Director of the National Library of Lithuania and member of the PUC, especially since it came from a new independent former Soviet republic. The other presentations were on Metadata and UNIMARC (Mr. Brian Holt, British Library and Vice Chair of the PUC) and Winisis as a tool for implementing UNIMARC (Mr. Alan Hopkinson, Middlesex University, UK). The latter answered some of the problems related to the creation of bibliographic databases.

The last day started with a training session (in Russian) in UNIMARC Authorities by Ms. Liuba Buckiene (National Library of Lithuania). This was also responding to needs and requests from participants. It was followed by a round table which concentrated on issues of concern to the region and gave to a representative from Azerbaijan the opportunity to report on the situation in this country.

Since the split of the USSR, some republics have stopped using the Soviet standards and are trying to adopt international rules and/or create their own national standards. One serious obstacle is the lack of language specialists and the absence of local bodies for library standards; yet most of the international standards are in English (e.g. the IFLA norms donated by UBCIM). Representatives from the region were encouraged to translate standards into their own languages. Besides the ISBDs, for example, the LCSH should be translated.

Another matter of concern is the choice of integrated systems. They are expensive and not always adapted to the needs of institutions concerned. It was recommended to try using CDS/ISIS. This is a package which is free of charge. Although it is not an integrated system, it can be adapted by programmers. Because there was no shortage of skilled programmers, the countries could cooperate in developing their own integrated systems and other software products.

Colleagues reported a lack of experienced professionals and the need for legal, organizational, technical and linguistic support. Financial support was also a critical issue. Standardization lacked coordination. Transliteration should be dealt with. Flexible systems for converting data were needed.

Representatives from the region were urged to consider as their first priority the creation of their national bibliography which is the base for Universal Bibliographic Control. A national agency should be fully responsible for this task. Decisions, structure and legislation need to define specific roles of the National Bibliographic Agency.

The discussion concluded on the need of greater cooperation within the region as the three countries involved are not only close geographically but seem to have similar interests. There are good specialists but they need more information and work should be better coordinated. Training could be organized on a shared basis.

During the closing session UBCIM publications (including the ISBDs and UNIMARC documentation) were donated to each of the three republics.

Group Photo


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