Alvin Toffler said in "Third Wave" that we can tell when the electronic age has come, because the morning and evening rush hours will have vanished. The possibility of remote cataloguing is one way of reducing commuting to work.
As the subject has recurred on Autocat, these four questions seem to me to have been the most frequently asked:
What is required at each site? What is required as the source of cataloguing? How does one catalogue without a shelflist? How are people paid?
Special Libraries Cataloguing has been doing remote cataloguing since January of 1979, and can offer our answers to these questions. They would, of course, require adaptation for academic and public libraries.
What is required for each site?
SLC has six terminals in four private homes. Each terminal needs a PC and appropriate software. (We use Crosstalk and Borden's Macrokeys).) Each site needs the classifications being used, and LCSH (the "Red Books"). It is an exciting change that DC and LC are now available in machine form. Since we also use Moys, Canadian KF, FC Canadian history, PS 8000 Canadian literature, and UDC, we will be in print schedules for some time. One must have AACR2, and dictionaries in the languages being catalogued.
With the advent of on-line authorities, helpful but less important are: a good biographical dictionary, a good geographical dictionary, "Books in Print Publishers", "World of Learning", and "Encyclopedia of Associations".
What is required as the source of cataloguing?
For books with CIP, the recto and verso of the title page. For books and other materials lacking CIP, add one page of the preface or table of contents, or other descriptive matter, e.g., producers catalogue description. For symposia, the entire table of contents is needed.
For each of these it is necessary to have noted the collation, and the presence of index, bibliographic references (with pages of bibliography), and other material needing a note, e.g., tables of cases and statutes. Our favourite way of having this done is the use of a rubber stamp with places to tick. The call number of an earlier edition, or of a class-as- collection would also need to be noted.
Some items one must have in hand, e.g., an artist's book and a video lacking descriptive matter.
How does one catalogue without a shelf list?
For LC and LC like classifications, we Cutter to three places and add imprint year. For 1XX main entries, the first two numbers are from the main entry, and the third from the first filing word of the title. For 245 main entries, the first two numbers are from the first word, and the third from the next word. In crowded areas (e.g., the first Cuttering word is the same as the subject of the number), a fourth number is added from the next word in the title.
For DC and DC like numbers, we Cutter to two places based on the main entry, and add a title letter, and year. For 245 main entries, there is no title letter.
In all cases, of course, biography is Cuttered by biographee (with "title" letter from biographer in the case of DC).
It is less expensive to change the few duplications than the shelf list check would have been. No one seems to notice the loss of exact alphabetic order on the shelf.
How are people paid?
Since we pay per title, we have no experience to offer in salaried situations. But wouldn't the same expectations apply as in a central work place? We find that without coffee break chatter and committees to attend, more gets done. (Autocat is a wonderful substitute for the coffee break chatter.)