Obituary addition: A. H. Chaplin

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Hugh Chaplin's work in organising the International Conference on Cataloguing Principles in Paris in 1961 is only his best-known contribution to international librarianship over a period of 20 years, writes Dorothy Anderson [further to the obituary by Philip Harris, 4 January].

Forty years ago cataloguing codes in use world-wide differed not only in practice but also in principles. It was Chaplin's achievement that, having identified those differences, he was able to prepare a simple document of basic principles which was acceptable internationally. The 1961 Paris Conference was a watershed in international librarianship, and its Statement of Principles has served since as the basis for subsequent cataloguing codes.

Chaplin's work for this conference began in 1954 when a small working group of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) compared rules in various cataloguing codes. An international meeting in 1959, for which Chaplin was the Executive Secretary, looked to the future and agreed the scope for the 1961 conference. Again Chaplin was Executive Secretary; and the success of the conference was not only because of its well-defined objectives but also because it had been carefully prepared.

A smaller International Meeting of Cataloguing Experts in Copenhagen in 1969 looked at progress since 1961; it urged the establishment of an international cataloguing secretariat to develop further work in bibliographic standards, co-ordinate work under way, publish results and produce a journal. This IFLA Cataloguing Secretariat came into being in 1971, with Chaplin as Chairman of its Steering Committee and myself as Executive Secretary. The first issues of the journal, International Cataloguing, appeared in 1972.

After three years the Cataloguing Secretariat merged into the extended IFLA International Office for Universal Bibliographic Control (UBC) in 1974. Chaplin saw this as an appropriate moment to retire.

Hugh Chaplin's willingness to listen and accept other points of view was his special contribution and his strength, and, perhaps because of this, his reputation rests even higher internationally than within his own country.