ILS 503-01 Foundations of Librarianship
February 25, 2008
Born April 28, 1898 in Zelwa, Russia, (Gorman, pp. 12 and 13), Seymour Lubetzky joined his family in Los Angeles in 1927. He obtained a BA from University of California, Los Angeles in German with minors in French, Psychology, music, and education in 1931 (Svenonius & McGarry, p. xi). He furthered his studies at University of California, Berkley with a MA in German and a secondary teaching degree credential in 1932. As it was during the Great Depression, he couldn’t find a job so, at the suggesting of a mentor, he obtained a graduate Certificate of Librarianship from UC Berkley in 1934. His career began at UCLA as library staff and then at the Library of Congress. He returned to UCLA in 1960 as a professor in the School of Library Science. As Michele Cloonan (2000) states his “music and language training is said to be reflective in his development of catalog rules” (Cloonan, 2000, p. 24).
While at the Library of Congress, Lubetzky researched descriptive cataloging and entry issues in a logical and systematic process. He analyzed historic, descriptive cataloging records to understand why a particular rule was in place and asked, “Is this rule necessary?” His suggested revisions were published in Cataloging Rules and Principles in 1953. His efforts led to his appointment on the Catalog Code Revision Commission (Svenonius & McGarry, 2001, pp. xiv, xv). In this position, he built on his findings to develop his radical theory that a “book” is a unique event within the author’s “work”. To accomplish this, a cataloger needs to understand a piece in order to decide where and how it should be cataloged to meet the objectives of the catalog: identification and collocation (Lubetzky, 1960). This creates an integrated catalog with the author as main entry and shows all various editions within an author’s work (Svenonius & McGarry, 2001, p. xvii). He included these theories in Code of Cataloging Rules: for Author and Title Entry in 1960. This seems logical now. But not all of Lubetzky‘s principles were adopted. Because of cost hindrances in implementing a whole new cataloging system, a compromised code was passed in 1967 (Yee, 2000). His third greatest work, Principles of Cataloging, was published in 1965 and talks about the future of cataloging. These three works create the basis of Anglo-American cataloging.
Seymour Lubetzky received many awards for his achievements: the Margaret Mann Citation in 1955, Beta Phi Mu Award in 1965, a Doctorate of Laws Degree from UCLA in 1969, (Svenonius & McGarry, 2001, pp .xvi - xix) the Melvil Dewey Medal in 1977 and Honorary Lifetime Membership to American Library Association in 2002(American Library Association [ALA] website, n.d.). Seymour Lubetzky passed away on April 5, 2003 at the age of 104.
Cloonan, M. V. (2000). Musings on Cataloging and Information Science in Appreciation of Seymour Lubetzky. In Connell, T. H. and Maxwell, R. The Future of Cataloging: Insights from the Lubetzky Symposium: April 18, 1998, University of California, Los Angeles (pp. 22-30). Chicago and London: American Library Association.
Dewey Medal Recipients (n.d.). Awards & Scholarships page. Retrieved February 14, 2008, from American Library Association Web site: http://www.ala.org/Template.cfm?Section=awardrecipients&template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=161702
Gorman, M. (2000). Seymour Lubetzky, Man of Principles. In Connell, T. H. and Maxwell, R. The Future of Cataloging: Insights from the Lubetzky Symposium: April 18, 1998, University of California, Los Angeles (pp. 12-21). Chicago and London: American Library Association.
Lubetzky, Seymour. (1960). Code of Cataloging Rules Author and Title Entry. An Unfinished Draft For a New Edition of Cataloging Rules Prepared for the Catalog Code Revision Committee. American Library Association.
Svenonius, E. and McGarry, D. (2001). Seymour Lubetzky Writings on the Classical Art of Cataloging. Englewood: Libraries Unlimited a Division of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc.
Yee, M. (2000). Lubetzky’s Work Principle. In Connell, T. H. and Maxwell, R. The Future of Cataloging: Insights from the Lubetzky Symposium: April 18, 1998, University of California, Los Angeles (pp. 72-104). Chicago and London: American Library Association.