The collection scope of national bibliographies: can completeness be achieved?


Könyvtári Figyelő (Library Review) vol. 16. (52.) 2006. no. 2. pp. 261–268.

The idea of a universal bibliography has been haunting librarianship since the work by Conrad Gesner called "Bibligraphia Universalis". The IFLA UBC program of 1973 stated that the universal bibliography needs to be established through the national bibliographies. In order to achieve this goal, national bibliographies must strive for completeness, while applying international standards and methods. However, it has since become obvious that this program cannot be accomplished. National bibliographies are based on legal deposit systems. In order to bring electronic publications under bibliographic control, a number of countries have had to modify their legal deposit rules. The recommendations of the International Conference on National Bibliographical Services held in Copenhagen in 1998 also talk about the registration of the complete national publishing output, but the IFLA survey of 2000 based on 50 national bibliographies show that this objective has not been achieved in any of the countries. It is therefore necessary to rethink the collection scope of national bibliographies based on geographic, linguistic, subject and formal approaches. Currently the collection interest of national bibliographies is generally limited to books, meaning that other types of documents only have a sporadic representation. Retrospective cataloguing, as well as the cataloguing of web-based documents and making them accessible to users represent other important challenges. As for the cataloguing of web-based documents, a successful model is provided by the Pandora project of the National Library of Australia that has been collecting online publications since 1996.

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