CONSERline (ISSN 1072-611X) Newsletter of the CONSER Program - Published by the Library of Congress, Serial Record Division
No. 12, July 1998
Normally CONSERline is issued prior to the semiannual meetings of the American Library Association, but we decided to hold this issue until after ALA so that we could highlight our 25th anniversary celebration. The reception was wonderful and we were particularly pleased to have retirees Linda Bartley (LC), Florence Hayes (Cornell), Joe Price (LC), and Kim Dobbs (LC) in attendance. A big thanks to our sponsors: OCLC, Inc., Blackwells Information Services, R.R. Bowker, Swets & Zeitlinger, Inc., The Faxon Company, EBSCO Subscription Services, and Chemical Abstracts.
The CONSER Program celebrated the 25th anniversary of its inception during the annual meeting of the American Library Association in Washington, D.C. Jean Hirons, CONSER Coordinator, welcomed CONSER members and friends to a reception at the Library of Congress on June 28th. According to Hirons "it was 25 years ago this month, June 1973, that a small group of people gathered to discuss the need for a cooperative endeavor to build a serials database. The Conversion of Serials Project was designed to build a database that would serve the needs of union listing, reduce duplicative efforts, and resolve some of the difficulties caused by multiple formats and standards." She expressed her gratitude to the program's early founders, concluding that "CONSER has evolved over the years into the successful and very ongoing Cooperative Online Serials Program and we know that it will evolve even further, particularly as the serials that we control evolve into quite different entities."
Hirons noted that while CONSER has become known as the "voice" of serials, the theme for the reception--"Putting a Face on CONSER"-- was in celebration of the many people who have made it happen. Hirons then introduced Winston Tabb, Associate Librarian for Library Services, noting that Tabb is this year's recipient of the Melville Dewey award for his contributions in support of cooperative cataloging.
Tabb remarked that "it is hard to imagine what serials control would be like today without CONSER and its database of over 800,000 records. The time and expertise that we invest in creating and maintaining records is a cost savings to us all. Furthermore, the CONSER database has made it possible for many smaller libraries to provide high quality records for their patrons and staff." Tabb also noted the importance of CONSER's creation of two standard tools--the CONSER Editing Guide and CONSER Cataloging Manual, saying that "they have been instrumental in creating a more universal approach to serials cataloging than has ever existed."
Tabb went on to explain the influence that CONSER's success as a cooperative program has had on the formation and evolution of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging, citing the formation of the BIBCO Operations Committee as one example. Tabb concluded by thanking the many people at the Library of Congress, OCLC, and in the CONSER institutions that have contributed to CONSER's success.
Brian Schottlaender, Associate University Librarian for Collections and Technical Services at UCLA and Chair of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging, spoke about the current leadership role that CONSER is taking, both in the effort to revise the Anglo-American Cataloguing Code and in the development of a cooperative training program (see separate articles below).
Alex Bloss, (U. Illinois, Chicago), read a resolution from the American Library Association and Beverley Geer (Trinity), read a letter from the North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG), both congratulating CONSER on its achievements. These were added to other congratulatory letters received from libraries here and abroad. Participants also enjoyed a display of the "CONSER family"--photos of those involved in CONSER at each CONSER institution.
The celebration continued directly following the reception at the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) Participants meeting. Following updates on other PCC activities by Schottlaender and John Byrum (LC), Hirons gave a slide presentation on CONSER that featured CONSER "then and now," a review of its achievements, and an effort to "dispel the myths about CONSER." According to Hirons, CONSER is perceived as being too much work, having too much documentation, a program for large universities only, and too elite. In reality, Hirons explained that the creation of CONSER records and use of CONSER documentation, while seemingly time-consuming, provide overall time savings for cataloging and training new staff. She also noted that, due to shrinking budgets and the availability of the CONSER database, many institutions no longer create many original serials records or have catalogers dedicated solely to serials; nevertheless, there are opportunities for smaller institutions to participate in the program, such as CONSER Enhance.
Providing three different perspectives on the benefits of CONSER were Cecilia Leathem, (University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla.), Jennifer O'Connell (EBSCO Information Services), and Mechael Gago (Indiana University). Leathem reported on her institution's retrospective conversion of its serials and their success in finding CONSER or OCLC copy for all but 8% of the titles. According to Leathem, the availability of CONSER records and documentation has allowed her to become a manager while her support staff perform more of the cataloging activities. O'Connell discussed the use of the CONSER database for EBSCO's production of The Serials Directory. In their efforts to supply accurate information without having the piece in hand, O'Connell explained, "CONSER allows us to 'view' the publication without seeing it and to list it by the title proper with the correct ISSN." Gago noted the cost- and times-savings benefits of CONSER membership that Indiana has realized in its 19 years as a CONSER member.
The meeting concluded with a tribute by incoming PCC chair, Sally Sinn (National Agriculture Library) to outgoing chair, Brian Schottlaender. Sinn remarked on his many contributions to cooperative cataloging and particularly for his leadership of both CONSER and the PCC during a time of change. Celebratory cakes were then shared.
-- Jean Hirons
In honor of its 25th anniversary, CONSER has initiated the formation of the Serials Cataloging Cooperative Training Program. The program was conceived by Jean Hirons as an effort to standardize and simplify the process of providing serials cataloging instruction. Working with Hirons on this effort are colleagues in CONSER, the ALCTS Serials Section Education Committee, and NASIG, as well as library school professors. Brian Schottlaender officially announced the formation of the new program at the CONSER 25th anniversary reception (separate article above).
He noted that "this is a logical extension of CONSER's role in providing educational materials for serials catalogers through its documentation. The aim of the program is to provide training materials and trained trainers but not to sponsor the actual training. We will leave that for ALCTS, NASIG, the OCLC networks, regional and state library associations, and others. The training will be based on the CONSER Cataloging Manual and will also take advantage of the World Wide Web."
Current plans are to develop a pilot to be available in spring 1999 that will address the most pressing need--beginning serials cataloging. It will include both print and electronic serials and will be designed for classroom training with pre- and post-class exercises via the Web. Further classes will be developed on a modular approach to allow a training provider to mix and match sessions of particular interest. A subgroup of the PCC Standing Committee on Training will be formed to handle ongoing review of materials to assure that they are up-to-date and accurate.
Describing the program as "ground breaking" for its effort to standardize materials, use new technologies, and elicit cooperation from diverse groups, Schottlaender thanked those who have formed a steering group to work on the many issues involved. They are, from CONSER: Jean Hirons, John Riemer (U. Georgia), and David Van Hoy (MIT); representing ALCTS: Sharon Mason (U. Nebraska at Kearney), Julia Gammon (U. Akron), and Bea Caraway (Trinity); representing NASIG: Cameron Campbell (U. Chicago), Ann Ercelawn (Vanderbilt), Beverley Geer (Trinity); also Patti Fields from FEDLINK and Thom Saudargas from the College Center for Library Automation, Tallahassee. NASIG president, Steve Oberg, and Karen Muller of ALCTS were also thanked for their support and ideas. Library school professors Lynne Howarth and Sherry Vellucci plan to participate in upcoming months.
Large databases that are online aggregates of various print publications have been on the library scene for many years. However, with the advent of library home pages and web-based catalogs, pointing to their resources has become a critical need. These databases often include only the more recent issues of a title. The users remain dependent on the print publication for a complete run. Coverage spans for individual titles within the databases may be changed or, indeed, resources themselves may be added or dropped, without the library being aware of the change.
Providing access to the individual titles aggregated in these large databases is an issue that librarians are only recently beginning to come to grips with. While the sheer volume and lack of stability is a major problem for providing access, librarians also find that preparing their bibliographic description may not fit readily into the traditional library model. Content of many of these titles no longer exist as discrete articles and may be accessed only by issuing a subject search across the database's contents. When a library does not hold a print copy, how is such a resource, with no chief source to provide bibliographic data, described?
At the May CONSER Operations Committee meeting, one of the agenda items was a discussion of this problem. As a result, CONSER libraries where surveyed about what they are presently doing to provide access to these resources, what problems they are encountering in providing and maintaining this access, and, in the best of all possible worlds, what they would like to see happen to provide efficient access to this body of material. The results of the survey were reported at the CONSER At-Large meeting during ALA in Washington, D.C.
It was found that CONSER libraries are presently providing access to these resources in a number of ways, including CONSER's single record approach for online versions which cites the availability of the online version on the print record, lists on the home page, paper guides, and separate catalog records in the OPAC.
Libraries reported pressure for staff time and resources as the biggest stumbling block to providing the initial access and ongoing maintenance necessary to keep information about these resources current.
The wish list for providing efficient access to this material was divided between electronic lists of titles and holdings that could be added to a library's home page and sets of cataloging records that could be added to the online catalog.
The At-Large discussion brought to light several areas which CONSER will pursue.
- Determine which databases are widely held among CONSER members (including those accessed through consortial arrangements) and create sets of records for the resources in them.
- Initiate conversations with publishers and aggregators and enlist their aid in providing access.
- Explore what role developing standards, such as the DOI, may play in this issue.
- Cooperate with appropriate ALA bodies to broaden the discussion within the library community.
- On the CONSER Web site, provide a bibliography of pertinent articles and general descriptions of projects that are being undertaken at various individual libraries.
Ruth Haas (Harvard) will work with John Riemer (U. Georgia) and Jeanne Baker (U. Maryland, College Park) on this endeavor.
--Ruth Haas (Harvard)
CONSER is involving many cataloging experts in discussing ways in which the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd edition revised, might be changed to accommodate electronic publications. Working under the direction of the CONSER AACR Review Task Force, chaired by Sara Shatford Layne (UCLA), four working groups have been addressing issues ranging from the cataloging of electronic journals to what constitutes a title change. The groups are to report to the task force in January 1999 recommending the direction for changes to the code. The task force will then prepare a report to the Joint Steering Committee on the Revision of AACR. Following international review and discussion, the process of crafting proposals for new rules or rewriting existing rules will begin.
CONSER has created a navigational page on the LC Web site for papers related to the process. Two papers are currently available. "Proposal to Adopt a Modified Model C," by Jean Hirons and Regina Reynolds, introduces a theoretical model, based on Model C from the Hirons/Graham paper "Issues Related to Seriality," to be used in the rule revision process and potentially for the reorganization of records in cataloging databases. The other paper currently available is "Incorporating Entry: a New Concept for the Cataloging of Electronic Journals" by Sara Shatford Layne. Both have been discussed during recent meetings and are offered as ideas that will continue to evolve. The site will be used to keep others informed of the process and to provide papers for discussion.
The four groups currently at work are: Group 1, chaired by Jean Hirons, which will recommend how title/entry change conventions should be applied in addition to suggesting new definitions; Group 2A, chaired by Kristin Lindlan (University of Washington), which will make recommendations on the description of serials; Group 2B, chaired by Pamela Simpson (Pennsylvania State University), which is concentrating on the description of electronic journals and other types of remote resources; and Group 3, chaired by Sara Shatford Layne, which will recommend changes to the rules for what constitutes a title change and review the use of the uniform title. The groups are comprised of serial and monograph experts from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, and Germany.
-- Jean Hirons
The 1998 annual CONSER Operations Committee meeting was held in May at the Library of Congress in conjunction with the first meeting of the BIBCO Operations Committee. Joint sessions were held at the opening and conclusion of the meetings which provided opportunity for the PCC operations committees to coordinate their efforts. Complete summaries for the CONSER Operations and BIBCO Operations committee meetings are available on the Web.
Ruth Haas (Harvard University) opened the meeting with a brief presentation on the history of the CONSER committee. Adam Schiff (University of Washington) and John Schalow (University of Maryland, College Park) presented their ideas on directions that BIBCO may pursue. Jean Hirons and Regina Reynolds (LC) presented to both committees a revised proposal on seriality that further developed ideas presented in a paper by Hirons and Crystal Graham (University of California, San Diego) delivered at the International Conference on the Principles and Future Development of AACR (separate article above). The revised proposal divides the bibliographic universe into "monographic entities" [later changed to "finite entities"] and "ongoing entities." A new sub-category called "integrating entities" is identified within "ongoing entities," which includes loose-leaf publications, databases, and Web sites. They discussed the model's practicalities and its potential impact on AACR2, USMARC, and cooperative cataloging. The revised proposal is available through the CONSER home page.
Several CONSER meeting sessions were devoted to topics relating to seriality and the revision of AACR, including latest and successive entry cataloging and electronic serials (or e-serials). A sub-group of the CONSER AACR Review Task Force announced its plan to conduct a study of e-serials in 1998 to gather information relating to a number of issues involving the new medium. The group expects that data collected in the study will greatly assist in the formulation of recommendations for revisions or additions to cataloging rules. Sara Shatford Layne (UCLA) discussed her ideas for a new entry convention: "incorporating entry." This proposal, which presents a compromise between latest and successive treatment for e-serials, was favorably received by many in the committee and further development is expected. (Proposal available on the Web.) Kristin Lindlan (U. Washington) led a discussion on the activities of another sub-group that is pursuing possible changes in the description of serials in bibliographic records. Discussion centered on the ramifications of using the latest serial issue for the basis of the description rather than the earliest issue. Pamela Simpson (Pennsylvania State University) led the discussion on Internet resources that included the topic of source of title, or chief source for electronic serials.
CONSER is pursuing training on two fronts. A training curriculum is being developed for new program members and a serials cataloging initiative is under development for catalogers not participating in CONSER (separate article above). The committee also discussed a new draft CONSER Cataloging Manual module titled "Modifying Records." The draft module covers serial record maintenance, closing records for ceased titles, pre-AACR2 record changes, deleting records, and other modifications. Publication is expected for fall 1998.
A report from the CONSER Task Force on A&I/ISSN Issues was presented to the committee. This included a proposal to selectively remove and warehouse abstracting and indexing data (510 fields) from CONSER records that have reached the maximum length so that other data, such as URLs, can be added. The proposal calls for an automated reinstatement of the data when the OCLC record length is increased. Improved access to journals covered by full-text databases was also discussed, and a small group was tasked with surveying the types of databases involved and the access that is currently being provided for them (separate article above) . Incorrect use of the ISSN by publishers and user services is a growing concern, particularly in the online environment. The ISSN Compact (a database of ISSN records) is now available at a lower cost directly from the ISSN International Centre in Paris (external link). The ISSN Network hopes that greater use of the ISSN Compact by user services and libraries will increase the accuracy of ISSN used to access serials.
The closing session brought the two committees back together for a joint discussion of various action items from the PCC Tactical Plan and to propose a vision statement for the PCC. The next meeting of the PCC operations committees will be held concurrently in late April 1999.
-- Bill Anderson (LC)