Category Archives: National Bibliographies in the Digital Age

Italian translation of Common Practices published

The Italian translation of the Common Practices for National Bibliographies in the Digital Age was recently completed and has now been published in the IFLA Repository:
Pratiche condivise per le bibliografie nazionali nell’era digitale

Guidelines For The Future – Sharing Best Practice For National Bibliographies In A Digital Age

The changes brought about by the World Wide Web together with the dramatic growth of digital media have called into question many key assumptions on which national bibliography were founded. At the IFLA Bibliography Standing Committee’s Warsaw satellite meeting to the IFLA 2012 Congress a new web based resource was announced to replace the original printed National Bibliographies in the Digital Age: Guidance and New Directions (2009). After several years of development this new resource will be launched at the IFLA Congress in August 2015.

Why create this new resource?

In an era of disruptive change libraries require authoritative and current best practice guidance on an increasing range of bibliographic issues. The rapidly evolving nature of the subject matter means that a more flexible, open and dynamic solution than traditional printed text is needed. To address this need the IFLA Bibliography Standing Committee has created ‘Best Practice for National Bibliographic Agencies in a Digital Age’ using the new ‘Book Page’ option available on IFLA’s web site.

The new resource is not intended to be prescriptive since bibliographic control inevitably varies widely from country to country and local requirements may be influenced by financial, legal or practical constraints. A number of potential options will therefore be presented to enable their application to be tailored according to individual circumstances, with examples and use cases given to illustrate the possible range of approaches

What topics are covered?

The new resource aims to offer information on a wide range of topics of interest to those involved in the management of bibliographic information. Examples include:

  • Service delivery & lifecycle
  • Resource description & standards
  • Business models & administration
  • How to demonstrate the continuing utility & relevance of services?
  • When to create, develop or cease services?
  • How to decide on appropriate service delivery options
  • What options exist for user support?

How is the resource organised?

In order to ensure the site is easy to use and yet remain flexible for future developments it has been organised by key themes which are further divided by topic. The main themes are:

  1. Background
  2. Organisation
  3. Purpose and value
  4. Scoping and selection
  5. Resource description and standards
  6. Service delivery
  7. Glossary/Useful links
  8. Bibliography

These thematic sections provide links to back up sources to ensure continuing relevance and currency and will be supplemented by ‘real world’ cases that show how libraries are tackling the challenges. It is hoped this sharing of experience will benefit not only new and existing national bibliographic agencies but all who wish to respond to the bibliographic opportunities offered by new technologies and media.

How will the site be kept up to date?

Following the launch, the IFLA Bibliography Standing Committee intends to implement an annual work cycle to maintain and extend the resource as new areas of interest emerge. The SC is also seeking input from experts and other IFLA committees to contribute text or review sections in order to keep it as accurate and relevant as possible.

Japanese translation of “National Bibliographies in the Digital Age” now available

The Japanese translation of “National Bibliographies in the Digital Age” is now available as a PDF on the Bibliography section of the IFLA web site.

I would like to thank Yokoyama-san as well as my other colleagues at the Acquisitions and Bibliography Department of the National Diet Library, Japan (NDL) for making the translation.

Call For Papers from the IFLA Bibliography SC

The Bibliography Section is making a call for papers for the IFLA WLIC in Helsinki on the theme:
What is a national bibliography today and what are its potential uses?

Proposals may include, but are not limited to the following topics:

  • What should be in a national bibliography in the digital age?
  • Is our common understanding of the terms “National Bibliography” and “National Bibliographic Agency” drastically changing?
  • Official and commercial national bibliographies and the new models of bibliographic information
  • Dissemination of national bibliography data and emerging needs arising from the semantic web
  • National bibliographies and authoritative data: how to provide trusted data in a national bibliography? (role of authority files, repositories, lists of codes, etc.

E-mail proposals should be sent, no later than February 1st, 2012 to:

Françoise Bourdon
Grazyna Jaroszewicz
E-mail: and
Miriam Nauri

  • Please indicate in the subject line “IFLA 2012 Helsinki proposal”.

Worldwide review of Guidelines for Subject Access in National Bibliographies started

The IFLA Working Group on Guidelines for Subject Access by National Bibliographic Agencies – including membership from the IFLA sections on Classification & Indexing, Bibliography, Knowledge Management, and Cataloguing has created a set of draft Guidelines which is now available for worldwide review at:

The use of “National bibliographies in the digital age : guidance and new directions” in working with selection principles etc. in the Danish National Bibliography

by Hanne Hørl Hansen, Bibliographic Consultant, DBC as

The last couple of years, discussions have been going on in Denmark whether to include internet resources in the traditional national bibliography. Can a national bibliography be selective instead of exhaustive? How do you find and select the right resources to include since having an overview of all relevant candidates on the internet is impossible? How do you handle the great amount of relevant resources? Which is the right level of cataloguing? How do you maintain the records created when the resource described moves on or disappears from the web?

I was commissioned by The Danish Agency for Libraries and Media under the Ministry of Cultural Affairs to prepare a report dealing with these issues. The report includes specific selection criteria, recommendations for levels of cataloguing etc. for internet resources to be included in the Danish National Bibliography. The report has just been approved by the Danish Bibliographic Council under the Danish Agency for Libraries and Media.

For inspiration in the initial discussions as well as in the actual work with the report I consulted the guidelines National bibliographies in the digital age. I find the guidelines useful in the following ways:

  • The guidelines introduce relevant areas to be analyzed in relation to internet resources in the national bibliography.
  • I find it very important that the guidelines reconsider the role of the national bibliography. This is of particular relevance when it comes to internet resources because the cultural heritage angle can be covered by legal deposit harvesting. The big question to be considered is whether the main function of the national bibliography is to serve as an exhaustive historical documentation of the output of the country or could be looked upon as a contemporary means to help libraries and end users access relevant resources. The guidelines state that the mission of the national bibliography is to support contemporary functions and that pragmatic (not necessarily exhaustive) formal selection criteria should be defined. I have built upon this confirmation of the national bibliography having a contemporary function providing access as an argument for recommending inclusion of selective internet resources in the national bibliography at all.

The guidelines as a whole have been an inspiration during the process, but I would like to point out the chapters of selection principles and cataloguing as being more than an inspiration to the  recommendations of my report.

Working with my report also reveals some shortcomings in the guidelines:

  •  As a whole the guidelines are very focused on material including text.
  •  The guidelines state that “the one size fits all approach is no longer sustainable” when it comes to cataloguing. It is also stated that processes must be simplified and automated when possible and that collaboration across sectors could reduce duplication. Do such initiatives and the recommended levels of associated metadata correspond with demands for core elements etc. in the cataloguing standards and codes? Do we need to modify and be more pragmatic in the cataloguing codes and standards when it comes to internet resources in order to handle the amount of material?
  •  The guidelines include a lot of historical background. A summary specifying areas to be considered and specific recommendations when starting working with including materials on the web into the national bibliography would be useful.