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The Library of Congress: Its Role in Coop era tive and Centralized Cataloging

By John M. Dawson, I John and M. Dawson


THEMOVEMENT, if such it can be called, toward centralized cataloging in the United States is a venerable one with a documented history of one hundred and twenty years, and it is more than likely that unknown librarians had conceived of it still earlier in a conceivably happier age when librarians were not conditioned to break into print with every wave of thought. The history is long and faltering; it is studded with the names of men who were giants of librarianship; it is replete with vast dreams and crushing disappointments. But now, in this second half of the twentieth century, the old hopes for a comprehensive plan of centralized cataloging from the Library of Congress appear to be on the threshold of realization. Centralized and cooperative cataloging first reached print with the oft-told story of Charles Coffin Jewett’s proposal that the Smithsonian Institution accumulate stereotype blocks of its cataloging and that of other libraries for the mutual benefit of al1.l Either because of technical difficulties or because of the administrative conflict between Jewett and Joseph Henry, the Secretary of the Institution, the plan came to naught. Had Jewett’s view prevailed, the Smithsonian libraqi might have become the national library of the United States and centralized cataloging a reality almost half a century before the Library of Congress assumed the task. Jewett’s plan was significant, not alone because of his plan for stereotyped entries, but equally because of his recognition of the need for uniform cataloging. The year 1876 saw the founding of the American Library Association, and from that day to this it has been goading and encouraging the Library of Congress, first to embark upon and later to expand its programs of cooperative and centralized cataloging. At the Philadelphia convention at which the ALA was founded, Melvil Dewey raise

Year: 1967
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