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The Library of Congress > Cataloging, Acquisitions > PCC > CONSER > CONSERline > No. 6, January 1996

No. 6, January 1996


From the Editor

A series of very beautiful snowstorms kept this issue of CONSERline from being completed as soon as I had planned. The issue focuses on the recently held Policy Committee meeting, and news from the NRMM and CIC Projects. Rather than waiting till June, as is customary, the next issue will be published in late February--just in time for format integration. Included will be articles on the impact of format integration on CONSER and serials cataloging, recent changes to LC serial rule interpretations, and newly-defined CONSER core records for non- print serials, as well as news of CONSER membership developments.

--Jean Hirons

CONSER Policy Committee Meets at LC

The CONSER Policy Committee held its annual meeting at the Library of Congress November 2-3. The meeting focused on the Program's membership and governance structure and on issues related to serial electronic resources. Policy chair Sue Phillips (University of Texas at Austin) led the meeting. Also in attendance were CONSER Councilors from the National Library of Australia, British Library, Research Libraries Group, ISSN International Centre, and the Program for Cooperative Cataloging. Brian Schottlaender (UCLA) was elected chair-elect.

Policy members agreed in 1995 that the many changes that have occurred since 1986, when the Program's structure was established, warranted a review of the membership and governance components. In order to prepare for the discussion, two ad hoc groups of the Policy Committee prepared reports and outlined a number of recommendations, highlighted below.


Martha Hruska (University of Florida), chair of the Ad Hoc Task Group on Membership, led the discussion on that topic. While acknowledging that CONSER should seek special subject or format- based contributions, Policy representatives agreed that membership should remain open at all levels. In addition, members agreed to the establishment of a new membership category- -CONSER enhance. Working initially with a CONSER institution, CONSER enhance members will add data to CONSER and non-CONSER records and maintain records when the serial changes. The new level will be developed over the coming months and documented in Update 4 to the CONSER Editing Guide. The first members will be the University of Cincinnati Medical Center (currently an affiliate member) and participants in the Program's maintenance experiment (see CONSERline #3).

Policy members agreed to define project-based membership at the associate level. The CIC library project (see related article in this issue) is the first member in this category. Also approved were recommendations to retain quantitative requirements, to revise and simplify application forms, to contribute to a review of the OCLC credit structure, and to promote making broader use of foreign catalogs available over the Internet.


Duane Arenales (National Library of Medicine), led the discussion on issues related to governance, during which Policy members agreed that the current structure was still the most desirable and should be retained with a few minor changes. All members will be represented at meetings--at least for the foreseeable future--and the meeting structure will be more formally defined. Refinements include redefining the term of the Policy chair as three years with the first as chair-elect, adding an Operations Committee representative to the Policy Committee to serve a two- year term as a non-voting ex-officio member, and changing the status of the representative from the Program for Cooperative Cataloging from a Councilor to an ex-officio member of the Policy Committee. A major topic of discussion was the role of the CONSER Councilors and the overall advisory structure. All agreed that the current relationship with the Councilors should be maintained; there was less agreement on whether to pursue other types of advisory groups.

Electronic Resources

Regina Reynolds (LC), presented the report of the CONSER Task Force on Electronic Resources. In addition to discussing many issues relating to electronic serials, Policy members recognized the achievements CONSER has made to date, primarily the publication of Module 31 of the CONSER Cataloging Manual, which provides guidelines for the cataloging of remote access serials. They agreed that CONSER's mission should be to supply cataloging or other types of "meta" data and not to coordinate the access to or archiving of serials. Other issues were not as easily resolved, such as what constitutes a serial in the electronic environment, how digital reproductions should be represented in our catalogs, and CONSER policies for use of field 856 (Electronic location and access). While many of these issues are more encompassing and involve the entire library community, CONSER aims to play an important role in the decision-making process. The task force and others within the Program will continue working on many of these issues.

-- Jean Hirons, LC

CIC Becomes CONSER's First Project-Based Member

Six CIC (Committee on Institutional Cooperation) libraries are part of a project to catalog the CICNet (managed) Electronic Journals Collection for the CONSER database. Since 1992 CICNet has created an archive of over 880 electronic journals. The full archive is available through the Internet at gopher:// [no longer available]. A managed collection of selected electronic journals is being created from the archive and is located at [no longer available]. This collection contains scholarly and research electronic publications which will be fully cataloged to CONSER standards and whose records will be contributed to the OCLC/CONSER database. Cataloging records will be created by Indiana University, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Minnesota, and Ohio State University. The OCLC CIC symbol is YNT. The CICNet home page URL is (external link).

CIC will be CONSER's first project-based member. Two of the participants, the University of Michigan and Indiana University, are full level CONSER members and will provide any necessary training and review. Leighann Ayers, University of Michigan, is coordinating the project and their participation in CONSER.

-- Leighann Ayers, University of Michigan

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Conversion of NRMM Serial Records Nears Completion

Project Overview

Over the past two years, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has managed a cooperative project for creating more than 22,000 on-line serials records for the National Register of Microform Masters (NRMM) from three major research libraries: Harvard University, the Library of Congress, and the New York Public Library. This project is the continuation of a complex, multi-year effort to provide online access to more than half a million bibliographic records for preservation microform masters. The project is funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Division of Preservation and Access as well as contributions by the project participants. One central project goal was the inclusion of the converted NRMM serials reports in the CONSER database to ensure that the newly converted records follow a set of national policies and procedures and will be widely available. Started in January 1994, the project will be completed in February 1996.

The NRMM Master File is the largest single file of serial records for microform masters in the United States. It consists of reports for microform masters sent to LC on cards by libraries and publishers from 1965 through 1983. With serials constantly changing titles, merging, or ceasing publications, the NRMM serials reports are a static record of dynamic publications. The reports also reflect variant local cataloging policies, they include a multiplicity of languages, and differ substantially in levels of completeness. Converting the NRMM serials records requires extensive revision, upgrading to the current Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, addition of holdings information, and intensive quality control.

Project Activities

During the preparation of the project grant proposal, the three participating institutions developed detailed work plans. They also agreed to contract out the creation of machine-readable records for the NRMM serials reports with the OCLC Retrospective Conversion Services Department. A key requirement for the contractor was the ability to input and update serials records in the CONSER database.

Close cooperation and coordination among ARL, Library of Congress, Harvard University and New York Public Library shaped the development of the project proposal and continued during the project. An important step during the start-up phase of the project was training of OCLC Retrospective Conversion Services staff by William Anderson, CONSER Specialist at the Library of Congress. The workshop helped OCLC staff in understanding the specialized project specifications and CONSER requirements.

Over the past two years, the project has involved a series of interconnected activities. Highlights included:

  1. ARL, working with the three participating institutions negotiated the contract for retrospective conversion services. The completion of the agreement between ARL and OCLC was accelerated by the decision to amend the Agreement for the prior retrospective conversion for NRMM monographic reports.
  2. The three participating institutions agreed on project specifications. These followed the CONSER guidelines for handling microform reproductions and were based on the ARL Guidelines for Bibliographic Records for Preservation Microform Masters. Staff from LC assisted in drafting some of the special requirements to ensure that records meet CONSER guidelines. An important element of the project specifications was the inclusion of summary holdings information in the bibliographic records.
  3. The three participating libraries validated and augmented their NRMM serials reports prior to processing by the contractor. Given the nature of the NRMM reports, which varied widely in terms of completeness of the information, this validation of the reports before conversion ensured efficient processing. It also maximized the use of local catalog information that was added after submission of the NRMM reports. As part of the validation process, the three participating libraries added the summary information for volumes/years filmed. Staff in the three libraries used special workforms for recording the data to allow OCLC RETROCON staff to construct the 533 #m in accordance with CONSER guidelines.
  4. The validated records were sent to the OCLC RETROCON Service for processing according to agreed-upon technical specifications. OCLC RETROCON Service staff worked closely with staff at Harvard, New York Public Library and especially the Library of Congress to clarify specific policies and to address problems. The fact that this project included reports from three different institutions required extensive consultation between the contractor and staff at the three institutions.
  5. The Library of Congress conducted the quality review program, and staff in the CONSER Minimal Level Cataloging Section (CMLC), under the supervision of Jean Hirons and Joan Tansey, reviewed all newly converted records based on sample reports submitted by the OCLC RETROCON Service.
  6. All newly created records have been added to the CONSER database and are distributed as part of the updates to the CONSER database.

Lessons Learned

A pivotal decision was that records would be contributed to the CONSER database. The creation of reliable, authoritative machine-readable records to national standards for national distribution helps to ensure that total national expenditures for bibliographic control of preservation microform masters will be as low as possible and will avoid costly duplication of efforts. This ensured the creation of reliable, authoritative and widely available bibliographic records for preservation microform serials.

Equally important, experience during this project has affirmed the critical importance of validating the information for serial holdings prior to creating a machine-readable record. The participating libraries devoted many hours to various "problem titles" to resolve holdings and/or bibliographic discrepancies.

Converting the NRMM serials records was also more complex and difficult than a local retrospective conversion project. The project brought into sharp focus the complexities of converting serial records and the crucial importance of close cooperation between the contractor and the three participating libraries.


The retrospective conversion of pre-AACRII NRMM serial records has been a complex, multi-institutional, and also very effective effort to provide online access to more than 22,300 serial records for preservation microform masters. The project not only expanded the number of records for preservation masters, but also added almost 4,800 original records in the CONSER database. Special attention to quality control was a hallmark of this project. For all libraries, the automation of the NRMM files improves access to preservation microfilm masters, ensures against duplication of microfilming and reduces bibliographic searching time and costs.

-- Jutta Reed-Scott, Association of Research Libraries

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CONSER Documentation Update

Two major updates have just been completed and will be available from the Cataloging Distribution Service (CDS) this spring. CONSER Editing Guide Update 3 (Spring 1996) includes all of the changes associated with the final phase of format integration. CONSER Cataloging Manual Update 4 (Fall 1995) reflects changes to LC Rule Interpretations for AACR2 Chapter 12, Serials. The update also includes a major revision of Module 30, "Direct Access Computer File Serials," prepared by Kristin Lindlan (University of Washington).

CONSER documentation will appear on the Cataloger's Desktop (also available from CDS) as follows: the first release of 1996 will include the CONSER Cataloging Manual, which will include all changes through Update 4. The second release for 1996 will include the changes to the CONSER Editing Guide contained in Update 3.

Due to the implementation of format integration, the CEG update is being published earlier than scheduled. The next update will be issued during the summer and will contain changes related to the membership and governance of the CONSER Program. Highlights of both updates will be featured in the next issue of CONSERline.

For further details on prices and subscriptions, contact the Cataloging Distribution Service at the Library of Congress by phone: (1-800-255-3666 or 202-707-6100); fax: (202) 707-1334; or email: [email protected]. Their mailing address is: Library of Congress, Cataloging Distribution Service, CDS/MU, P.O. Box 75840, Washington, DC 20013-5840.

News From Cooperative Cataloging

Participants in CONSER and the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) are invited to attend the LC-Cooperative Cataloging Discussion Group meeting on Sunday, January 21, at 7:00 at the Holiday Inn Riverwalk North, Rio Grande Ballroom. The main topic of the agenda will be BIBCO and NACO training. Participants in these recent training efforts will share their experiences and observations and answer questions from the audience. Various speakers will discuss the latest developments in the use and creation of core bibliographic records by Program participants and the Library of Congress. The agenda will also include reports on related cooperative cataloging activities, including CONSER, and a demonstration of the PCC homepage.

Current participants and librarians interested in learning more about the PCC are welcome to attend.

The Cooperative Cataloging Teams will present the fourth Series Institute for NACO libraries April 17-19 at LC. Judy Kuhagen, Senior Policy Specialist in the Cataloging Policy and Support Office, will be the instructor for the course, which has received excellent reviews from all who have attended. This course will focus on the relevant chapters of AACR2R, the LCRIs, the US MARC Authority Format, and searching techniques for series. This course is open to all independent NACO librarians who have not yet been trained in series contribution. If you are interested in participating in this training session please contact Carolyn Sturtevant at [email protected] or (202) 707-4551. Expressions of interest will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. There is no charge for the course.

-- Ann Della Porta, LC


After more than 18 years of service as the National Library of Canada's CONSER Librarian, and as the NLC's representative on the Operations Committee, Christina Yuen retired on July 14, 1995. She was one of the longest-serving members of the Operations Committee and will be greatly missed. Before working at the National Library, Christina held positions at the libraries of the Economic Council of Canada and of Health and Welfare Canada. John Clark will be the new representative to the Operations Committee.

Another long-time CONSER participant, Ruth Carter (University of Pittsburgh), has stepped down as the representative to the CONSER Policy Committee. Beginning January 1, 1996, she will be taking a six-month sabbatical to complete her book on a Civil War brigadier general, then will become Curator of Pittsburgh's Darlington Library. Dr. Carter served as the chair of the Policy Committee from 1989-90 and has been active in many serial arenas.

In announcing the change of representatives, she writes: "CONSER has always been right at the top of my list of professional interests and I have especially enjoyed working with members of the Policy Committee." Paul B. Kohberger, Jr., who will serve as Interim Coordinator for Technical Services, will be the new Policy representative.

In the last issue of CONSERline, we reported that Kevin MacShane would be retiring from the National Library of Medicine. Fortunately, he has changed his mind and will continue on as the Operations representative from NLM!

Sandy Wolff is the new Policy Committee representative from the New York State Library, replacing Liz Lane.

CONSERline (ISSN 1072-611X) is published at least semiannually by the Library of Congress, Serial Record Division. CONSERline is a cooperative effort with contributions from program members consisting of news of the CONSER Program and information of interest to the serials cataloging community. For comments or suggestions, contact the editor: Jean Hirons, Library of Congress, Serial Record Division, Washington, DC, 20540-4160; [email protected] (email); 202-707-5947 (voice); 202-707-6333 (fax).

CONSERline is available in electronic form only and is free of charge. Back issues:

For questions regarding subscription or backfiles contact Bill Anderson, Library of Congress, Serial Record Division, Washington, DC, 20540-4160; [email protected] (email); 202-707-5185 (voice). All materials in the newsletter are in the public domain and may be reproduced, reprinted, and/or redistributed as desired. Citation to the source is requested.

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