ERIC Identifier: ED254213
Publication Date: 1984-11-26
Author: McLaughlin, Pamela
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Information Resources Syracuse NY.
Managing Computer Software Collections. ERIC Digest.
As libraries of all kinds acquire software for both in-house use and their
circulating collections, issues in the management of software collections and
options for cataloging and processing microcomputer software must be considered.
The treatment of microcomputer software by libraries and other institutions
is highly dependent on several factors, among them:
--Type of library
--Size of the collection
--Variety of the collection (for example, all commercially produced, locally
produced, more than one program per disk, more than one version of the program)
--Purpose of the collection (in-house use only, circulating collection,
--Type of access to be provided (card catalog, online catalog, cards
generated by mirocomputer, wall charts, or lists)
--Type of organization (Dewey Decimal, Library of Congress, locally developed
Each repository has its own set of requirements and a thorough analysis
should be done to determine the most effective means of handling each
USING AACR2 TO CATALOG SOFTWARE
The long-awaited GUIDELINES FOR USING AACR2, CHAPTER 9 FOR CATALOGING
MICROCOMPUTER SOFTWARE, published by the American Library Association, was
prepared "to assist librarians in applying the second edition of ANGLO-AMERICAN
CATALOGING RULES (AACR2) to the description of microcomputer software and data
These guidelines are to be viewed as an interpretation of, rather than a
substitute for, Chapter 9, "Machine-Readable Data Files," and should be used in
conjunction with it. They also cover only commercially produced software. The
Sources of Bibliographic Information (Rule 9.0B)
The chief source of bibliographic information to be used is that which is
recorded internally, on the program itself. This makes access to the compatible
microcomputer necessary in order to catalog such materials. In lieu of that,
other potential sources include the labels on disks or containers, accompanying
documentation, or published descriptions other than advertising.
Title and Statement of Responsibility Area, General Material Designation
The use of "machine-readable data files" as a general material designation to
directly follow the title is specified, although dissatisfaction with this GMD
as inaccurate is acknowledged (Intner 1983; Richards 1983).
Edition (Rule 9.2)
Includes a list of generic words which may be used to indicate a change in
the program that resulted in a new issue. These include such terms as edition,
version, level, release, or update. This rule also discussses supplemental
material, and cautions against transferring edition information from
documentation to software.
File Description (Rule 9.5)
To be taken from explicit statements in accompanying documentation, this
statement can include numbers of files, or number of logical statements, if
given; physical medium; progamming language; or the model or number of machine
on which the program was designed to run. Other system requirements are given in
the optional notes area. Rule 9.5D outlines the treatment of subordinate files
as accompanying materials, along with other documentation such as user manuals,
textbooks, and program guides.
Notes (Rule 9.7B15; Optional)
"System Requirements and Disk Characteristics" includes description of the
make and model of hardware, amount of memory required, operating system, and the
kind and characteristics of any peripherals that are either needed or
recommended. Following the notes is a discussion of the cataloging of individual
programs in a collection, with examples, and an extensive glossary of relevant
Some libraries and other organizations have developed procedures for dealing
with their software acquisitions that suit their needs and are noteworthy.
GUIDELINES FOR PROCESSING AND CATALOGING COMPUTER SOFTWARE FOR SCHOOLS AND
AREA EDUCATION AGENCIES was prepared for the Iowa Department of Public
Instruction (Martin and others 1982). The authors base their ten suggestions for
the order of processing software on ACCR2 and practical experience. Especially
helpful in this publication is the inclusion of sample catalog cards, book
cards, pockets, and labels.
Other states have also published their procedures. The Ohio Media
Association's MICROCOMPUTERS IN THE MEDIA CENTER includes a chapter entitled
"Cataloging and Storing Microcomputer Materials." In this chapter, Kathy Kneil
offers suggestions for interpreting AACR2 for a high school media center and
suggests using the alternative media designators, MCP (microcomputer program) or
CP (computer program) to describe such materials.
Another media designator suggested by North Carolina ("For the Librarian..."
1983) is Courseware. This brief how-to-do-it guide for cataloging and sorting
software also describes the practice of choosing a classification number and
subject headings, setting up the card catalog, and processing and packaging
Other promising practices include the use of database management software for
microcomputers to create online catalogs, produce master lists for circulation,
or create charts (Baker 1983; Dewey 1984).
Baker's description of her elementary school's needs assessment, objectives,
selection criteria for database management programs, types of lists produced,
necessary documentation, and evaluation methods provides a fascinating case
The creation of a "Software Directory Wall Chart" (Dewey 1984) for public
libraries provides descriptions of possible software for the task with technical
details. Microcomputer-based production makes for easy updating and a variety of
The practice of tracing computer programs as subjects offers card catalog
users a complete listing of software possibilities and is a practical approach
to this problem for small collections.
There are any number of ways to tackle this soon-to-be-larger issue. These
introductory items will form a solid foundation for a system designed to fit
And, if we have all done our jobs, we will have used Betty Minemier's
"'Stranger, alike and large' rule. (1) Can a stranger, by using the regular
library key, whether it be electronic, manual, or book catalog, find all our
computer programs? (2) Can a user easily find all like materials--book,
audiovisual, or conputerized--on a particular subject in the regular library
key? (3) If we get a much larger collection, will this scheme still work?" Or,
perhaps better yet, her "'Heavenly home tonight' rule: If I am transported to my
heavenly home tonight, will my successor condemn me to hell for the
arrangement?" (Action Exchange 1983).
FOR MORE INFORMATION
American Library Association. Committee on Cataloging: Description and
Access. GUIDELINES FOR USING AACR2 CHAPTER 9 FOR CATALOGING MICROCOMPUTER
SOFTWARE. Chicago: ALA, l984.
"Action Excange." AMERICAN LIBRARIES (September l983): 512.
Baker, Patti R. "A Software Filing System for Elementary Schools."
EDUCATIONAL COMPUTER MAGAZINE (September 1983):46-50,91.
Dewey, Patrick, and Marvin Garber. "Organizing and Storing Diskettes." SCHOOL
LIBRARY JOURNAL (April 1984):32.
"For the Librarian: How to Catalog Computer Courseware." ELECTRONIC LEARNING
Intner, Sheila. "Suggestions for the Cataloging of Machine-Readable
Materials." LIBRARY RESOURCES AND TECHNICAL SERVICES (October-December
Martin, Elizabeth and others. GUIDELINES FOR PROCESSING AND CATALOGING
COMPUTER SOFTWARE FOR SCHOOLS AND AREA EDUCATION AGENCIES. Des Moines, IA: Iowa
State Department of Public Instruction, 1982. ED 223 256.
MICROCOMPUTERS IN THE MEDIA CENTER. Columbus, OH: Ohio Educational Library
Media Association, l983.
Olson, Nancy B. A MANUAL OF AACR2 EXAMPLES FOR MICROCOMPUTER SOFTWARE AND
VIDEO GAMES. Lake Crystal, MN: Soldier Creek Press, 1983.
Richards, Mary. "Issues in Microcomputer Software Cataloging and Processing."
WISCONSIN LIBRARY BULLETIN (Summer 1983):68-69.