1977 – UNESCO/IFLA International Congress on National Bibliographies

The 1977 Conference resulted in the publication of Guidelines for the National Bibliographic Agency and the National Bibliography (International Federation of Library Associations, IFLA International Office for UBC & UNESCO, 1979).

Between 1950 and 1977, focus shifted from coverage to the registration and formatting of the bibliographic data. This may have occurred because coverage was increasingly considered obvious while the growing challenge was how to migrate to online cataloguing with improved sharing of bibliographic data. Additionally, in 1950 all the different publication types that should be registered were listed, however, the 1977 recommendations note only the minimum a national bibliography should register.

Key recommendations

  • The national bibliography is defined as: “the cumulation of the authoritative and comprehensive records of the national imprint of a country, published in a printed form (and/or produced in other physical form, such as catalogue cards, machine-readable tapes) regularly, and with least possible delay.”
  • The “national imprint” is defined as “the products of the national publishing industry.” i.e. it is the home country of the publisher that determines where a publication should be registered.
  • The national bibliography must secure the basic authoritative registration of a country’s imprint including authority control of personal names and corporations
  •  “The (national bibliographic) agency may… determine that the national bibliography should include not only the records of the national imprint but also certain other categories of material. These generally relate specifically to the country and can be considered part of the national collection, that is, all publications relating to any aspect of the country’s cultural, historical, geographical and linguistic environment“
  • As a minimum, records for monographs and first issues and title changes of serials, including official publications, of the national imprint; and other categories should be included
  • Records should be created as rapidly as possible to meet the requirements of the national library community and the resources of the national bibliographic agency
  • Registration should be in accordance with the international cataloguing and classification rules and there should be compatibility between the bibliographic formats used  both nationally and internationally
  • A country’s national bibliography is an essential component of the wider activity of universal bibliographic control (UBC) and it is important to be able to exchange and reuse bibliographic data.
  • The selection criteria for a national bibliography
  • The level of cataloguing required for a national bibliography
  • Instructions concerning the publication of printed national bibliographies
  • The optional electronic publication of the national bibliography, and the potential inclusion of national bibliographic data in an international database