CONSER At-Large Sunday June 17, 2001
ALA Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA
Summary of the meeting
Bob Wolven (Columbia), Chair Elect of the PCC, welcomed the group. Everett Allgood (NYU) took the notes for the meeting.
Reports and updates
CONSER Operations meeting. Hirons provided highlights of the meeting, CONSER’s first three day meeting, which included a new member’s orientation session. The complete summary is available on the CONSER Web site.
MARBI and AACR revision. Hirons announced that both of the proposals presented to MARBI by CONSER were unanimously approved. These included proposal 2000-04 which makes field 260 repeatable and proposal 2000-05 which defines a new code ‘i’ in the leader for integrating resources, to be used with a ‘seriality’ 008. All additional coding proposed for the seriality 008 was also approved. AACR2 Chapter 12 is under final review and should be published some time in mid 2002. Hirons, Les Hawkins, and others at LC will be busy revising documentation during the upcoming year with the help of CONSER and SCCTP catalogers.
SCCTP. Hirons noted the new Holdings workshop. Two new courses, Advanced Serials, and Electronic Journals are also under development for release in 2002 following the release of the AACR2 revised chapters 9 (Electronic Resources) and 12 (Continuing Resources).
CONSER Publication Pattern Initiative. Sally Sinn (NAL) reported on the preconference–The Future of Serial Holdings, a MARC Formats Interest Group meeting, and the CONSER Publication Pattern and Holdings Task Force Meeting. She noted the prominence of holdings at this meeting and the impact that the CONSER initiative is having. The initiative was a focus of the preconference and Sinn reflected on the fact that the CONSER effort is providing the first real try-out for the MARC 21 Holdings Format. Sinn noted some of the action items that the task force will undertake during the next 6 months which are outlined in the strategic plan and urged anyone interested to attend a participant’s workshop which directly followed.
Implementing Integrating Resources Task Force. Valerie Bross (UCLA) reported that the task force has broken its charge into three areas: documentation and training, maintenance, and distribution, and that members of the task force will be divided among these topics in working towards the final report to the PCC Policy Committee. The report is due in September.
PURL Pilot. Bross also reported that there was considerable interest expressed at the CONSER Operations meeting in experimenting with the use of PURLs in CONSER records. Bross is currently working with Eric Childress at OCLC to develop plans for the pilot, including an exit strategy.
Discussion: CONSER membership
Hirons began a discussion on CONSER membership by asking questions of the non-members in the audience. After identifying those who were not members, Hirons asked how many would consider some form of membership in the future and what the current barriers were. These were identified as staffing, training concerns, quantity requirements, and, in the case of a UK library, current non-MARC 21 usage. When asked why they might want to join CONSER, the clear answer was "to contribute." Other reasons given were to complete PCC membership, to provide better coverage of law materials, and because "CONSER records are better than anything else out there!"
Hirons gave a brief overview of the current membership levels and requirements and noted that the current quantity requirements had been cited as a potential weakness of CONSER during the visioning session held at the January 2001 At Large meeting . She explained that the PCC Policy Committee will be conducting a new strategic planning session in November and suggested that a review of CONSER membership levels be part of that activity.
Members of the audience confirmed that quantity requirements were indeed a concern. Duane Arenales (NLM) pointed out that the numbers were originally agreed upon with training considerations in mind. Would the work needed to bring an institution’s records to CONSER level be worthwhile if only a few records are contributed and could the level of quality be maintained?
Steve Shadle suggested that CONSER investigate the funnel approach. Hirons noted that Judy Knopp (ATLA) is currently working on developing a CONSER funnel for theological libraries. One drawback of a funnel is that the individual libraries do not receive CONSER credits and probably would not receive CONSER authorizations. Participants noted that the impetus to contribute to CONSER is more involved with the desire to improve quality than to receive credits.
Jim Stickman (Washington) asked whether training was too time-consuming and a significant barrier. Hirons explained that the training used to be held for two weeks at the Library of Congress, but now, with the development of the CONSER Curriculum, had been reduced to three days and that CONSER catalogers were participating with LC catalogers in providing this training. Following the training, institutions are reviewed, generally for a six month period. Once an institution is declared independent, they are assigned to a section in LC’s Serial Record Division for additional help. There is no ongoing quality review as peer review seems to be working well. However, it was noted that CONSER catalogers generally review others’ records due to changes in the serial.
Ellen Rappoport asked whether CONSER documentation was made available to members. Hirons noted that a complementary copy of the CONSER Cataloging Manual and CONSER Editing Guide are provided for full and associate members, but not Enhance or Affiliate members.
Hirons noted that CONSER Enhance membership is a level that may not work as well as was planned because when a title changes, the old record can be updated by the CONSER Enhance library but the new record cannot be authenticated and thus, is not included in the CONSER database. However, there are other types of enhance, such as the addition of publication patterns, MESH headings, and URL maintenance for which the level is quite useful. Hirons also explained that training for Enhance members involves mentoring via email. Lola Halpern (Emory) asked whether "trial" CONSER Enhance membership might be possible to see whether they could meet the numbers.
Hirons asked whether CONSER should adopt BIBCO’s strategy of identifying a pool of trainers who are trained to provide instruction to new members. She suggested that training-the-trainers might not be needed. There seemed little enthusiasm for this and Ed Glazier (RLG) asked whether there would be enough new members to warrant this. Bob Wolven (Columbia) suggested that if quantity requirements are reduced, there could be an increase in new members.
Wolven also noted that mobility among CONSER catalogers is a problem, particularly when they go to a non-CONSER institution where their skills cannot be utilized. He wondered whether catalogers could take their CONSER status with them to new institutions. Hirons said that others had asked this question and noted the problem of the institutional commitment, obtaining OCLC authorizations and credits; however, the commitment of CONSER catalogers is not something to take lightly! There was general agreement that the cataloger would most likely try to convince their new institution to join CONSER. Wolven also cited CONSER membership as an advantage to institutions in attracting good serials catalogers.
Martha Hruska (Florida), suggested that an executive summary be written aimed at administrators which would describe why it is worthwhile and valuable to make an institutional commitment to becoming CONSER members. Hirons suggested that a review of the CONSER database would be useful in determining strengths and weaknesses of coverage and could help direct future membership recruitment. Kristin Lindlan (Washington) reiterated her need for specialized language expertise, particuarly from southern India. Further work on membership levels and requirements will begin prior to the November Policy Committee meeting.