Online Newsletter of the Cataloging Directorate

Library of Congress Volume 9, no. 4 ISSN 1066-8829 April 2001


CONSER Specialist
"Experimentation": Topic 4 of the Bicentennial Conference on Bibliographic Control for the New Millennium
"Exploring Partnerships": Topic 5 of the Bicentennial Conference on Bibliographic Control for the New Millennium


Leslie (Les) Hawkins has been appointed to the CONSER Specialist position as of March 25. Hawkins has worked in the National Serials Data Program for twelve years. He has become one of the leading experts on ISSN and on electronic serials publishing and cataloging about which he has written articles and given presentations. He has worked with Jean Hirons, CONSER coordinator, and others on the revision of AACR2. Hawkins has also been an active participant in the Serials Cataloging Cooperative Training Program (SCCTP), serving as a trainer for the Basic Serials Cataloging Workshop. He is currently co-developing a course on Web-based serials with Steve Shadle (University of Washington). He brings his extensive knowledge about serials and serials publishing and his skills with Web-based applications to CONSER and will be working closely with Hirons.

Hawkins served as the acting CONSER specialist from mid-July through mid-November 2000. One of his major accomplishments during this time was working with a group of electronic serials specialists within CONSER to revise Module 31 "Remote Access Serials" of the CONSER Cataloging Manual. He replaces Bill Anderson, who was detailed to the ILS Serials Coordinator position in October 1999 and assumed that position in June 2000.


(This article and the one that follows conclude LCCN's series of articles about the Library of Congress Bicentennial Conference on Bibliographic Control for the New Millennium, held November 15- 17, 2000. Three articles about the conference appeared in LCCN, v. 8, no. 12, December 2000, and v. 9, no. 2, March 2001.)

In Topic Four, "Experimentation," two speakers offered assessments of some of the best-known experiments in addressing the challenge of improved access to electronic resources.

Jane Greenberg, assistant professor in the School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, presented "A Comparison of Web Resource Access Experiments: Planning for the New Millennium." She compared five leading Web access research projects (DESIRE, BIBLINK, ROADS, Nordic Metadata, and OCLC CORC) to identify characteristics of success and considerations for improvement for such experiments, using a framework of five evaluation criteria: organizational structure, reception, duration, applications of computing technology, and use of human resources.

Greenberg asserted that these projects qualified as experiments because they were implemented under fairly controlled conditions, tested new information technologies, were among the first examples of their kind, and included an evaluation component. Three projects were sponsored by UKOLN (United Kingdom Office for Library and Information Networking). DESIRE (Development of a European Service for Information on Research and Education) began in 1996 and concentrated on research in caching, resource discovery, and directory services. In BIBLINK: Linking Publishers and National Bibliographic Services, publishers of electronic material cooperated with national bibliographic agencies to produce authoritative bibliographic information, while ROADS (Resource Organization and Discovery in Subject-based Services) used computing technology to investigate cross-searching and improve interoperability among Web gateways. The Nordic Metadata Project is exploring use of the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set. The OCLC CORC (Cooperative Online Resource Catalog) project began as an experiment in January 1999 and became a full production system in July 2000.

Greenberg found that characteristics of a successful organizational structure included clear project goals, well-defined administrative structures, and adequate funding. In her evaluation, she listed considerations for improvement for use in future initiatives. These included designing experiments that plan for continued funding and partnerships, better public relations, implementation of experiments with long-term goals and which aim to become operational, exploiting computing technology more fully, and optimizing the talents of available human resources. Greenberg noted that none of the projects was well-known outside the cataloging community and suggested that the bibliographic control community consider stronger public relations and advertising. She proposed a strategic plan for the bibliographic control community that would explore her considerations for improvement; continue to evaluate projects; share research; develop an official list of considerations for improvement; and develop a master Request for Proposal (RFP) for Web resource access experimentation.

Karen Calhoun, director of Central Technical Services at Cornell University Library, spoke on "Redesign of Library Workflows: Experimental Models for Electronic Resource Description." She maintained that the prevalent library structure is still divided along functional lines into collection development, public services, technical services, and library systems offices; however, libraries are in a period of discontinuous change and must redefine the catalog, develop new working assumptions, experiment, and innovate.

Calhoun described a test to discover a set of seventeen electronic resources that were all held by seven member libraries of the Association of Research Libraries. The test showed that discovery results were fragmented and less than optimal. Calhoun attributed this deficiency to libraries' tendency to treat electronic resources as add-ons rather than fully integrating them with existing collections and services.

She presented a model of a widely distributed electronic resource description process and cited several examples of institutional movements in this direction: the use of virtual teams at Brown and Cornell Universities to develop resource descriptions; the National Agricultural Library's collaboration between librarians and scientists who create resource descriptions of their own work; Yale University's use of the EBSCO Academic Search Elite record set; and the University of Tennessee--Knoxville's and Rochester Institute of Technology's use of information technology staff to harvest resource descriptions from vendor Web sites. Cornell designated a "virtual team" of three bibliographers, a reference librarian, two catalogers, and a project coordinator to create records for Internet resources using the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set, finish them in MARC 21 format, and add them to the library catalog and Cornell Library Gateway to its catalog and networked resources. Yale's work involved loading a set of records produced by the vendor EBSCO for approximately 1,100 full- text journals into the Yale library catalog. The initial load and the first load of vendor-produced updates to the records were both completed successfully. EBSCO derived its records from cataloging for the corresponding print journals produced through CONSER, the serials cataloging component of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC), and made them available to EBSCO customers at no additional charge, in response to proposals from the PCC's Task Group on Journals in Aggregator Databases.

Calhoun concluded that, though some collaboration across library functions is already evident, an optimal approach would require a complete reintegration of the electronic resource description process. She described the requirements of a system to achieve this goal but suggested that there are organizational and attitudinal impediments to its realization. In the short term, the most practical approach is liberal use of virtual teams.


The final topic of the Bicentennial Conference on Bibliographic Control for the New Millennium was "Exploring Partnerships" between libraries and other nonprofit and profit- sector enterprises to bring bibliographic control to the Internet. Michael Kaplan, director of product management for the library systems vendor Ex Libris(USA), spoke on "Exploring Partnerships: What Can Producers and Vendors Provide?" and Regina Romano Reynolds, head of the National Serials Data Program in the Serial Record Division at the Library of Congress, discussed "Partnerships to Mine Unexploited Sources of Metadata." Both speakers stressed that libraries must engage producers of digital content in the task of bibliographic control and said that content creators and vendors were increasingly willing to make common cause with libraries.

Kaplan outlined the challenges he saw in combining bibliographic data that libraries produce with metadata created by producers and vendors. He saw search engines that can access data both in the catalog and on the Web as the best solution, but how might the requisite metadata be produced, managed, searched, and displayed? He presented the concept of dynamically created records as a series of concentric circles. At the core is the bibliographic record. Outer layers include links to such metadata packages as author information, tables of contents, indexes, summaries, and full text. Kaplan envisioned software developed to create metadata records automatically from existing document markup or textual analysis of documents. However, partnerships among libraries and other cultural institutions, producers, and vendors would also be essential, he maintained.

Kaplan invited three representatives of the vendor/producer profit-sector community to respond to his assertions. Amira Aaron of Faxon/RoweCom agreed that vendors should provide more bibliographic data, but emphasized that libraries also must learn lessons from the commercial sector: cost/benefit analysis, marketing (publicize the value of library tools, including authority control, cataloging and metadata standards), risk-taking, forecasting, and the importance of time-to-market.

Jeff Calcagno of Syndetic Solutions discussed how libraries can combine information from the catalog with "ancillary or adjunct" data like tables of contents and reviews. Lynn Connaway, vice president of research and systems at the electronic book production company netLibrary, Inc., gave her perspective on how libraries will acquire and load bibliographic records for the burgeoning corpus of electronic books.

Reynolds asserted that metadata created for other purposes, particularly for registration and identification of a work, can be "re-purposed" or adapted for use as bibliographic data. She considered several registration processes: Copyright registration; publisher applications for CIP (Cataloging in Publication) data; and assignment of International Standard Serial Numbers (ISSN) by the National Serials Data Program, which are all administered at LC, and others such as the International Standard Book Number (ISBN), Digital Object Identifier (DOI), and International Standard Textual Work Code (ISTC), the latter being developed under the auspices of the International Standards Organization. Reynolds said that the metadata supplied by publishers or creators of content in these registration and identification processes could be a rich source of cataloging data and could be re-purposed to a great extent by automated means.

Reynolds proposed ways to strengthen partnerships between digital content producers and cataloging agencies. One method would be to collect and standardize metadata from content producers by using standard templates; software would convert the metadata thus collected into catalog records in MARC 21 format and would also output the metadata in HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and return it to the content provider for inclusion in the HTML header of the digital resource. To make it easier for content producers to assist in the subject cataloging of their resources, she proposed development of a streamlined subset of the Library of Congress Subject Headings for use by publishers.

LC CATALOGING NEWSLINE(ISSN 1066-8829) is published irregularly by the Cataloging Directorate, Library Services, Library of Congress, and contains news of cataloging activities throughout the Library of Congress. Editorial Office: Cataloging Policy and Support Office, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540-4305. Editor, Robert M. Hiatt; Editorial Advisory Group: Victoria Behrens, John Byrum, Roselyne Chang, Jurij Dobczansky, Anthony Franks, Les Hawkins, Albert Kohlmeier, Susan Morris, Geraldine Ostrove, David Smith, David Williamson, and Roman Worobec. Address editorial inquiries to the editor at the above address or (email), (202) 707-5831 (voice), or (202) 707-6629 (fax). Listowner: David Williamson. Address subscription inquiries to the listowner at

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Comments : 04/30/01