The acquisitions literature of 1991 reflects a profession glumly aware that the serials pricing "crisis" of the 1980s is an economic fact of life for higher education in the 1990s yet simultaneously intrigued by the impact the emerging networked information environment likely will have on the entire scholarly communication process. Meanwhile, acquisitions as a profession seems to have emerged from the cloisters, and acquisitions librarians, for the most part, seem confident and eager to address the challenges of the 1990s. The emergence and refinement of current awareness publications such as Acqnet and Against the Grain have contributed to this sense of confidence in the face of sweeping change.
The literature of collection development for 1991 is selectively reviewed. The major themes are the role of the library and its collections in the face of declining resources, on the one hand, and improved opportunities for cooperation, on the other. Must a library own the material its users need, or is it enough to provide access to the material? Other topics treated are the organization of collection development, budgets, collection assessment, and selection.
Although recent discussions of descriptive cataloging reveal evidence of discontent with current procedures, many of the participants working in 1991 were not yet ready to provide either conceptual or empirical research to support either their diagnoses for the discontent or their suggestions for change. The lack of a consensus on the objectives for library catalogs is clearly displayed in at least one recent debate. Other failures to resolve, or even to investigate, conceptual issues are revealed in debates on the nature of what catalogers catalog, and the consequences of simplifying cataloging practices. The likelihood that discussions on the various levels of standards such as background documents for cataloging codes, rule interpretations, and ancillary codes, which now take place in the international arena-will now be confined to the common denominator approach is explored. Authority work, main entry, transliteration, the formation of name headings, and automated cataloging are best seen as mechanisms for cataloging. In turning to issues such as these, new directions for research that might help the profession focus on the tasks a catalog is supposed to perform are suggested. With reference to practical procedures related to descriptive cataloging, displays in online catalogs, cooperative cataloging, current activities in retrospective cataloging and management of catalogers, and the cataloging process are discussed. A new agenda for action research is suggested, as well as research into means for unifying old catalogs of large libraries with the developing international bibliographic database. Finally, recent publications on the history of cataloging are reviewed, and ways in which such research might be aimed for the practical benefit of the profession are discussed.
The research literature published in 1991 in the following categories is examined: users and subject searching, subject access in online catalogs, subject cataloging and indexing, information retrieval, thesaurus and indexing approaches, classification, and specialized subjects and materials. The preponderance of the research dealt with improving subject access in online systems. This seems to have been the result of acceptance by many researchers of a number of previously researched hypotheses that, taken together, indicate that improving online systems holds more promise than trying to perfect the processes of subject analysis.
Trends of preservation literature in 1991 are enumerated, including paper quality and mass deacidification, cooperative programs, planning, conservation, microforms, binding, photographs, and digital and electronic media. A bibliography of the year's literature is provided.
Major topics in the literature of the reproduction of library materials are bibliographic control of microforms, copyright and document delivery issues, equipment and the technical aspects of reproduction of materials, preservation as it relates both to archival and access issues, publishing, and standards. Implications to users of these developments are emphasized.
The serials literature published in 1991 is reviewed and characterized. Priority issues that demand immediate professional attention include saw/arty communication and serials prices; serials use patterns and other evaluation criteria; the development of electronic serials, cataloging, indexing depth, and physical arrangement; automated serials control; and conservation and preservation. Few of the service issues display evidence of established practices that are obviously still working today.