Bob Wolven (Columbia), chair-elect of PCC, welcomed the group. Jean Hirons (LC), CONSER Coordinator, thanked EBSCO for supplying the refreshments, which arrived a little late but were very gratefully received!
Sinn also reported on the task force meeting that was held on Saturday afternoon. The group is moving on from the completed pilot phase to more routine contributions and hoping for more participants. A major focus for the future will be working with system vendors to develop loaders and improve on compatibility with the holdings format. With this in mind, several vendors were paired with institutions that are interested in working with them.
In order to address concerns regarding workflow, the workflow task group, under the leadership of Wen-ying Lu (Michigan State), has developed a number of documents, including flow charts and an FAQ that will be made available soon on the CONSER Publication Pattern Initiative Web site.Carlen Ruschoff (U. Maryland) will take over the chairmanship of the task force following this meeting.
Wolven introduced and welcomed special guests David Fritsch (TDNet), Peter McCracken (Serials Solutions), and Mark Glynn (JournalWebsite). Hirons gave a brief summary of the status of cataloging for electronic journals. At the request of OCLC, CONSER decided two years ago that catalogers would either use the single record approach, adding links for aggregations and packages to print records, or create a separate record for each package. Lately this has become untenable, because companies are merging and buying out others; it is confusing who is doing what. This spring, Becky Culbertson, (UC San Diego), Naomi Young (U. Florida), and Regina Reynolds (LC) proposed a new approach for discussion at the CONSER meeting that would entail a single record (separate from the print) that would describe (to whatever extent is possible) the publisher's online version. All aggregators would be given on this one record and a minimum amount of information about the aggregated versions would be provided. OCLC and others could then use these records to create customized sets for libraries by adding institution-specific URLs, stripping out undesired information.
The proposal raises a number of questions:
The latter question was the focus of the discussion. Serials Solutions has been working with Columbia University and others to develop a serial record set, based on the CONSER database, and it is conceivable that others might consider offering such a service. If such records are based on print records, assuming that librarians stop creating records for the electronic, and these records reside only in local catalogs, what will happen to the shared database on OCLC and its uses?
The discussion was broad and--all agreed very interesting--but led to few conclusions, as expected. There may have been some confusion as to the types of electronic journals that were being discussed at any one time. David Van Hoy (MIT) helped clarify that there are very different situations between large databases of articles and packages of electronic journals available from publishers. Most seem happy to leave it to the aggregator or a serials management company to provide the necessary access to the databases, such as ProQuest or Academic Universe. Some libraries want sets of records, others are satisfied with A-Z lists for such large collections. Dan Tonkery (EBSCO) noted that while EBSCO has created a bibliographic record set for its aggregation (in conjunction with a PCC task force), few libraries seem to be using it due to problems with record loading.
Regina Reynolds suggested that the focus of the discussion be: what can libraries do best and what can the companies do best. CONSER has the ability to create records; the companies have the data to maintain them. But, while it might be nice for the companies to add data to the CONSER records, the data is their prime source of income! Thus, it is probably unrealistic to think that they would be willing to do this unless some commercial advantage could be ascertained.
Pat French (UC Davis) asked why CONSER is discussing creation of a record other than the print for all online versions rather than using the CONSER single record approach. There were also suggestions for use of the holdings record for the various distributors.
Fritsch asked how CONSER libraries were planning to keep up with the maintenance involved and it was noted that we are used to maintenance. However, it may be that we were talking about different things at that point. It is most likely that the greatest maintenance is involved with the large databases, and what CONSER catalogers are cataloging are the ejournal packages. More needs to be done in this area to determine just what we are cataloging.
When asked whether catalog access is viable or even necessary, Jim Stickman (Washington) said that it most definitely is. The catalog must remain the focus of information or users will stop using it for other types of resources as well.
The meeting adjourned with expressions of interest from the companies to continue the dialogue with CONSER on these issues.