Focus on Committees & Interest Groups: CaMMS Committee on Cataloging: Asian & African Materials

Today we are visiting with Robert Rendall from the Committee on Cataloging: Asian and African Materials (CC:AAM). Learn more about their valuable work and how you can be involved below!

What’s the mission of the Committee on Cataloging: Asian and African Materials?

Our charge is to “consider all aspects of problems in the bibliographic organization of materials issued in or dealing with Africa and Asia, with the exception of Asiatic Russia.” We review descriptive and subject cataloging practices that affect materials in our area, discuss technical issues like character encoding and display, and review and approve on behalf of ALA any new or revised romanization tables (maintained by the Library of Congress) used for Asian or African languages.

Screenshot of Romanization tables for Uzbek Arabic-language orthography of the 1920s
The ALCTS Committee on Cataloging: Asian and African Materials reviews and approves on behalf of ALA any new or revised romanization tables (maintained by the Library of Congress) used for Asian or African languages, such as the Uzbek romanization table approved in 2017, pictured above.

Tell us about some past projects of your committee of which you’re particularly proud.

In 2015 we sponsored a program at the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco on “Managing Transliteration of Bibliographic Data.” Speakers from IBM and the University of California, Berkeley discussed the intersection of language technology with library data and the history and future of transliteration as a tool to provide access to non-Latin script materials.

How has the focus of your committee changed over time?

Like many of our fellow committees, we’ve had our hands full in recent years staying on top of changes in Resource Description and Access (RDA)—our cataloging code—and plans for a new model to represent and exchange our data (BIBFRAME), watching for anything that will have an impact on the materials we catalog. There are sometimes complaints that non-Western and particularly non-Latin script materials get forgotten in the development of new cataloging standards and practices—so it’s our responsibility to speak up and make sure our voice is heard!

What are the future directions of your committee?

The structure of our committee includes several generalist catalogers as well as specialists from five defined areas: African, East Asian, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Southeast Asian. In the past some of those positions have been hard to fill. This year, thanks to the efforts of our past chair Iman Dagher and the Cataloging and Metadata Management Section (CaMMS) Executive Committee, we have a full slate! Having such a broad range of expertise on our committee gives us a great opportunity to facilitate information sharing between cataloging communities that face similar challenges but often have little routine interaction. We want to reach out and engage those communities, let them know they have an advocate in CC:AAM, and create a pool of future potential members to help us continue our work.

What upcoming programming, publications, or initiatives would you like to share with readers of ALCTS News?

We’re thrilled that our program proposal for the 2018 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans has just been accepted! It’s called “New Directions in Non-Latin Script Access” and will feature speakers from OCLC, the Library of Congress, and Yale University discussing how experimentation with linked data and the implementation of full Unicode in WorldCat are paving the way for dramatic improvements in the provision of access to non-Latin script material in library collections. Mark your calendars and join us on June 23, 2018, at 4:00 pm, location TBA.

What’s the best way for ALCTS members to get involved with your committee?

We meet at the same time as most of the other CaMMS committees on Sunday morning at the ALA Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference. Observers are welcome to join us and participate. We post all our reports, minutes and other materials on our ALA Connect site. We often include other catalogers and outside experts in our online discussions between meetings, so do contact committee chair Robert Rendall or any member if you have an issue in our area that you think should be addressed. And if you’re a CaMMS member, consider volunteering to serve with us as a member or intern!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.