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EDITOR'S NOTE: Dear colleagues, H-Italy has never had a message marked urgent, so I hope you will take the time to read, reflect and respond to this announcement that William Connell of Seton Hall University has sent about the Library of Congress' decision to stop cataloguing books in the Italian language. Having worked in academic libraries to pay for my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I can testify personally to how detrimental this policy decision will be. Forcing libraries to bear the cost of cataloguing books in Italian will mean that libraries will be forced by fiscal considerations to stop buying books in Italian. Thus, the policy will doing nothing short of stiffling Italian voices, whether they speak about history, science, cultural studies, art, music, politics, or whatever. In addition to American citizens writing to the Librarian of Congress and their representatives in Congress, I would ask H-Italians to propose ideas about other actions we can take, either individually or collectively, to stop this policy change. Paul Arpaia Editor, H-Italy ================== Dear friends of Italy: Libraries throughout the United States that have programs to acquire Italian books now face a major funding crisis because of an arbitrary decision by the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress, which is in many respects the world's most important library, has decided to stop cataloging Italian books. Meanwhile, books that come in from other countries around the world continue to be routinely cataloged in Washington at taxpayers' expense. Cataloging information is made available at no extra charge to smaller libraries throughout the United States under existing programs, but this will no longer be the case for Italian language books. It is anticipated that each library will have to pay an exorbitant fee of almost $15.00 to access the cataloging information for each new Italian book that it acquires. All members of the educated public who want American libraries to continue to acquire Italian books should contact Dr. James H. Billington, who is the Librarian of Congress (firstname.lastname@example.org), and especially their Congressmen--to whom the Librarian reports. Sincerely, William J. Connell Professor of History and La Motta Chair in Italian Studies Director, Alberto Italian Studies Institute Seton Hall University South Orange, NJ 07079 -----Forwarded by William Connell/FAC/SHU on 11/10/2005 02:49PM ----- To: William Connell/FAC/SHU@SHU From: Marta J Deyrup/FAC/SHU Date: 11/10/2005 02:35PM cc: xxxxxxxxxx Professor Connell, You asked me to investigate the situation of Library of Congress cataloging of Italian language books. In 2004, Library of Congress decided it would no longer catalog Italian-language books. In the fall of that year LC entered into an agreement with the Italian book vendor, Casalini, to purchase Italian-language Cataloging in Publication Records for its book orders. The vendor, Casalini, stipulated in its contract with LC that these records, which previously had been created and made available as a service by LC to other libraries through the cooperative union catalog database, OCLC, would not be allowed to be distributed for the use by other libraries. The case that the vendor is making is that these cataloging records are its "intellectual property." If other libraries wished to use them, they each would have to pay 12.60 Euros per cataloging record. This contravenes all traditional library practices. This puts small libraries in a terrible bind. Some research academic libraries estimate that it will cost as much as an additional $30,000 a year to now purchase Italian-language records from Casalini as opposed to using the LC records they downloaded for free from OCLC. This does not take into account the additional work that must be done on these records to enhance them in a way that is usable for online retrieval (the addition of subject headings, call numbers, authority headings). Other libraries may be forced to limit or even eliminate their Italian-language book purchases because of the cost. There is also the question of why the Library of Congress, which serves as the nation's library, has abandoned its traditional role of making available through its own cataloging Italian-language books to libraries in the United States. This situation has not yet been resolved. There is still time to weigh in and influence the direction LC and the vendor Casalini will take. Marta Deyrup Associate Professor Seton Hall University Libraries 400 South Orange Avenue South Orange, NJ 07079 Tel. 973-275-2223