Library of Congress Announces Major Reorganization

The Library of Congress recently announced a major reorganization to merge its acquisition and cataloging functions. The Library has redesigned the ways it receives and catalogs incoming materials in order to improve processing time dramatically and enhance the physical security of the collections.

As result of the reorganization, a book acquired as a copyright deposit, purchase, gift or an exchange will go to one division instead of several for centralized processing—the ordering, cataloging, shelf listing, bar-coding and other activities that enable users to find one particular book among more than 23.3 million unique titles in printed formats (plus another 8.9 million that are duplicate copies) held at the Library.

The merger of acquisitions and cataloging functions ends an older industrial model of work, in which an incoming book moved slowly along an assembly line of stand-alone acquisitions and processing units. Twenty years ago, staff in Order, Exchange and Gift or Cataloging in Publication divisions acquired a title and then handed it off to highly specialized librarians in separate Descriptive Cataloging and Subject Cataloging divisions for description, subject analysis, classification and assignment to a particular place on a shelf. Whole-book cataloging, which merged descriptive- and subject-cataloging functions in the early 1990s, began the trend toward centralized processing to eliminate duplicative efforts and speed up “throughput”–the time it takes to make a new book findable by catalog users and to get it on the shelf to be served to readers.

The reorganization, which has been in planning for the past several years, will allow the Library to better handle both traditional and non-traditional deposits (such as digital). It also positions the organization to respond to the recommendations of the Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control, convened by the Library to address how the popularity of the Internet, advances in search-engine technology, and the influx of electronic information resources have greatly changed the way libraries do their work. The Working Group’s final report and recommendations, published in January 2008, are available by clicking here.

As part of the reorganization at the Library of Congress, three new chiefs have been named in newly created divisions within the Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access (ABA) directorate.

Karl Debus-López is the new chief of the ABA’s U.S. General Division. He has worked in a broad range of management positions in technical services with a focus on acquisitions and collection development for his nineteen-year career. Most recently, he was head of the Acquisitions and Collection Development Branch and chief collection development officer at the National Agricultural Library.

Philip Melzer is the new chief of the Asian and Middle Eastern Division in the ABA. He has served as acting chief of the Library’s Regional and Cooperative Cataloging Division (RCCD) since January 2006. He was team leader of the Korean/Chinese Cataloging Team in RCCD beginning in June 1996 and for a year was acting assistant chief of the Asian Division. He served as president of AFSCME Local 2910 and is president of the Council on East Asian Libraries for 2006 through 2008.

Linda Stubbs is the new chief of the ABA’s Germanic and Slavic Division. For a decade, she served as assistant chief of the Special Materials Cataloging Division. In 2006, she assumed two acting managerial positions—first as interim director of the Library’s Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Overseas Office and then as acting chief of the European and Latin American Acquisitions Division, since the end of 2007.