Academics & Faculty

Seymour Lubetzky, UCLA Professor Emeritus and Pioneer in Cataloging, Dies at 104

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Seymour Lubetzky, a pioneer in the field of catalogingtheory, died of heart failure in Los Angeles on April 5. He was 104.

Lubetzky, a professor emeritus from UCLA, was most renownedfor his prolific contributions to cataloging theory and his influence in thedevelopment of the "Paris Principles" and the 1967 Anglo-American CatalogingRules. He was widely considered as the foremost cataloging theorist of the 20thcentury. His contributions to the field of modern cataloging spanned a periodof 60 years, from 1939 to 1998.

Lubetzky was born in 1898 in Zelwa, Poland (then part ofRussia and now in Belarus). He worked as a teacher before he immigrated to theUnited States in 1927. After a brief stay in Chicago, he moved to Los Angelesand earned a B.A. from UCLA in 1931, and an M.A. from the University ofCalifornia, Berkeley, in 1932, majoring in literature and languages.Additionally, he earned a certificate in librarianship and a credential inteaching.

In 1943 Lubetzky joined the Library of Congress as a cataloger.It was in this position that he made the distinction between information andits various expressions and revised the existing inefficient Anglo-Americancode of cataloging rules. His theory on code design soon spread worldwide andresulted in his holding a leadership role at the 1961 International Conferenceon Cataloging Principles in Paris. The conference was fundamental inestablishing a system whereby all countries catalog compatibly, facilitatingthe exchanges of information worldwide.

In 1960 Lubetzky left the Library of Congress and became ateacher at UCLA's newly formed School of Library Service, which later becamethe Graduate School of Library and Information Science and merged with the Graduate School of Education in1994 to form the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.

After retiring in 1967, he continued to consult oncataloging problems and speak at national and international conferences. Threeof his best-known works, "Cataloging Rules and Principles," "Code of CatalogingRules" and "Principles of Cataloging," are widely used in library schoolsthroughout the world and are still providing insights into the future ofcataloging in the beginning of the 21st century.


In 1998 UCLA's Graduate School of Education and InformationStudies (GSE&IS) sponsored a symposium to honor Lubetzky's 100th birthdayand his contributions to the world of cataloging.

Lubetzky received many honors and awards during his career,including the Margaret Mann Citation in 1955, for his analysis of catalogingpractices; the Beta Phi Mu Award for Good Teaching in 1964; a Doctor of Lawsdegree at UCLA in 1969; and the Melvil Dewey Award in 1977, in recognition ofhis development of theory and practice relating to bibliography and cataloging.In 2002 he received the American Library Association's most prestigious award,Honorary Membership.

"Seymour Lubetzky's death is a great loss. He will befondly remembered as one of the most beloved and important teachers andthinkers in cataloging theory of our century," said GSE&IS Dean Aimee Dorr."His outstanding contributions were instrumental in creating the conceptualframework for the cataloging discipline as it exists today."

He is survived by his two sons, David and Richard, and hisgrandson, Darren.

Lubetzkyestablished an endowed fund in the UCLA Department of Information Studies tosupport students with an interest in cataloging. Gifts to the Seymour LubetzkyScholarship Fund No. 9240 are payable to the UCLA Foundation, and may be sentto GSE&IS Development Office, 2043 Moore Hall, Box 951521, 405 HilgardAve., Los Angeles, CA 90095-1521.

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