Creating catalogues: bibliographic records in a networked world

Added by Sarah on 08 June 2009 14:33

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A new RIN report provides a timely overview of the process of producing and disseminating bibliographic data for scholarly journals, journal articles and for printed and e-books.

News release - 8 June 2009

It finds that there would be considerable benefits to be gained if libraries, along with other organisations in this data supply chain, were to operate more at the network level, but that there are currently significant barriers to making effective moves in that direction.

Within the Web 2.0 environment, there are increasing opportunities for innovative use of datasets - including the metadata that are used to make up catalogues - that are freely available to all. Open data are an increasingly hot topic, and there is growing interest from Government and others in making information created by public sector organisations more widely available for re-use, in order to generate greater economic benefit, social gain and improvements to public services.

Our report explains how bibliographic data are created and used from publishers through a range of intermediaries (including libraries), to the end users. Whilst there are pressures to make these data more freely available, each player in the process has its own motivations and business models in creating, adding to, using or re-using bibliographic data, many of which hinder moves to open up this data.

Creating catalogues identifies key issues in the process and aims to stimulate the debate on possible ways forward, both to eliminate wasteful duplication of effort, and to make the data more freely available for re-use and innovation.

The report provides a number of important recommendations for all involved in the process. The Research Information Network will work with the academic library community and others in the supply chain to raise awareness and understanding of the issues in this report, of the benefits to be achieved by moving to new models, and to identify ways in which we might work towards achieving them.

The report and supplementary notes are available at



Sarah Gentleman - Communications Officer - Research Information Network

Tel 020 7412 7241, email


Notes for editors

Web 2.0 developments are creating a complex landscape for the creation and use of the traditional bibliographical data:  

  • In 2008, the Library of Congress Working Group on the future of bibliographic control issued their On the record report which indicated that cataloguing activity must be shared more broadly and equitably among all libraries and followed this with the announcement in January this year, of its investigation into the creation and distribution of bibliographic data in US and Canadian libraries.  
  • In January 2009, LibLime announced an open source web-based cataloguing tool called and proposes that the records catalogued using it will go into: ‘The world’s largest database of freely licensed library records’.  
  • The recent US Online Computer Library Centre (OCLC) announcement of its new policy for re-use of bibliographic records and the subsequent withdrawal of this policy is an example of the complexity of the current situation regarding the management and best use of catalogue data .  
  • The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) is interested in this area and is planning an investigation into the Sharing and re-use of library catalogue records: guidance on legal issues in the web environment.


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