The multilingual challenge in bibliographic description and access

Pat Riva
15 January 2022

Cataloging  has  taken  many  steps  towards  greater  internationalization  and  inclusion,  but  one  area  remains  stubbornly  intractable: providing transparent access to users despite differences in language of descriptive cataloging and language of  subject  access.  As  constructed  according  to  present  cataloging  practices,  bibliographic  records  contain  a  number  of  language-dependent elements. This may be inevitable, but does not have to impede access to resources for a user searching in a language other than the language used for cataloging.

When catalogs are set up as multiple unilingual silos, the work of bridging the language barrier is pushed onto the user. Yet providing access through metadata is supposed to be the role of the catalog. While a full theoretical approach to multilingual metadata is elusive, several pragmatic actions can be implemented to make language less of a barrier in searching and interpreting bibliographic data. Measures can be applied both in the creation of the metadata, and in adjusting the search. Authority control, linked authority files, and controlled vocabularies have an important part to play. Examples and approaches from the context of a newly established catalog shared by a consortium of English language and French language university libraries in Québec, Canada.


Italian Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science
Multilingual catalogs; bilingual cataloging; bilingual publications; language of cataloging; cross-linguistic subject
發布日期:2022年03月23日 最後更新:2022年03月29日