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The Library of Congress > Cataloging, Acquisitions > PCC > CONSER > CONSERline > No. 15, Winter 2000

No. 15, Winter 2000


From the Editor

Welcome to the Winter 2000 issue of CONSERline.

Winter has come to Washington but I am still thinking fondly of the warm days in San Antonio during the ALA midwinter meeting. It was a full week for those of us involved in CONSER activities. I and my colleagues are very busy these days--working on AACR2 revision, preparing for a publication pattern experiment, and keeping up with the demand for serials training. This issue focuses on the latest developments in these areas of CONSER involvement. Here at LC, we are getting underway with the conversion of our serial record file after initial implementation of the Voyager check-in module last October. There's much to do on all fronts, but it's winter and what better time to do it!

-- Jean Hirons, CONSER Coordinator, Library of Congress

SCCTP From Two Perspectives

group shot

New trainers at the Vancouver session

The Serials Cataloging Cooperative Training Program (SCCTP) was officially inaugurated in August, when FEDLINK sponsored the first Basic Serials Cataloging workshop at the Library of Congress. Since that time eleven workshops have been held and twenty-five are planned to date in 2000 throughout the U.S. and Canada. Evaluations of the trainers, training materials, and course coverage have been very positive, citing the usefulness of the materials, breadth of coverage, and the enthusiasm and experience of the trainers. Workshops have ranged from one to three days and a variety of formats have been employed. Sponsors have included OCLC network affiliates, library associations, library schools, and individual institutions. In November the University of British Columbia School of Library, Archival and Information Studies sponsored a train-the-trainer session in Vancouver that focused on Canadian trainers, raising the number of trainers to 46. Next on our agenda will be the development of a holdings course that we hope to have ready by early winter 2001. For information on the program and a list of upcoming workshops, see the SCCTP Web site. Ruth Haas (Harvard) was one of the first to sponsor a workshop and Steve Shadle (Washington) has been one of our most active trainers. Here is SCCTP from their perspective.

SCCTP at Harvard: The Sponsor's Perspective

When the availability of SCCTP's first course, the Basic Serials Cataloging Workshop, was announced in June 1999, Harvard University Library immediately began the process to take advantage of the program for its serials staff. Trainers were identified, a training room was reserved, and people were alerted well in advance to save time in October for a 2-day training session. The limit of 25 participants was quickly reached and a stand-by list developed. Staff with beginning as well as advanced cataloging expertise were encouraged to attend.

Jim Shetler and Dajin Sun from Yale University agreed to be our trainers and helped walk us through the preliminary preparations listed on the SCCTP homepage ensuring that everything was in place by the late October session. Besides the appropriate physical setup and necessary equipment, documentation needed to be ordered and readied. A needs assessment was sent out, and the trainers used the results to shape and customize our sessions to meet the most pressing needs and interests of the participants. In addition, before the actual session, a set of cataloging exercises was completed by the participants to help focus on areas of cataloging which might pose special problems. Participants were also encouraged to review their daily work and identify problems with specific titles that could be shared with the group.

Jim and Dajin led us through two days of training packed with detailed instructions for bibliographic access and MARC tagging balanced with group discussions which explored the concepts underpinning our work, or looked ahead at emerging issues of electronic access and metadata options other than MARC. It was exciting to watch the participants respond to this format, which, while intensive, allowed staff to take the time to view their serials work as a part of a broader, rapidly changing environment.

The sessions were an overwhelming success. We greatly appreciate the efforts of our trainers who are highly knowledgeable, skilled presenters and whose careful preparations met the needs of their audience. All of CONSER will share in the success of this training as it is reflected in the records we contribute to our database.

-- Ruth Haas (Harvard University)

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SCCTP: The Trainer's Perspective

It's the day before NASIG starts in Pittsburgh. I've gotten very little sleep the night before since I was one of the "lucky" ones without air conditioning in my dorm room. I'm tired, excited and curious as I find a chair in the back of the room (don't want to block anyone's view) at the first SCCTP-sponsored train-the-trainer session. My main concerns are the lack of good coffee and the fact that I'm scheduled to give a workshop in Vancouver in a few months and I hope I can find a Canadian trainer who's willing to work with me. Well, SCCTP couldn't do much about the coffee but it did solve my training need. I quickly connected with Carol Baker from the University of Alberta with the eventual result of a good workshop in October.

For me, the Serials Cataloging Cooperative Training Program is a godsend. In a large academic library, one of the ways success is measured is by the contributions you make to the profession. Because teaching is something I enjoy, providing workshops on various cataloging topics is one of the ways I pursue professional development. However, as anyone who has presented a workshop knows, it takes a significant amount of time, energy and inspiration to develop one. At the 1998 CONSER Operations Committee meeting I made a statement to the effect that having an already prepared workshop for trainers would make our lives so much easier and I'd be first in line as a trainer.

Little did I know how true those words would be. Jean and I tested the materials at Wayne State a year ago and the workshop was very well received. Since then we've made (and continue to make) improvements in the materials and the program continues to grow. And so does the demand. The sponsor of the Vancouver workshop was astonished when she ended up with a sixty-person waiting list for the Basic Serials Cataloging Workshop saying it's the most demand she has ever had for a workshop.

One of the things SCCTP has done right is to continue the "cooperative" vein of other CONSER activities. The train-the-trainer sessions give trainers two or three days to focus on the materials, meet and work with professionals and other SCCTP trainers, and to practice speaking and be critiqued, all of which provides the support and confidence we need to give workshops.

SCCTP recommends that sponsors use two trainers for workshops and this really takes some of the stress off of you as a trainer and also provides participants with a better experience. Participants get the benefit of two experienced catalogers who might have different (but equally correct) opinions on how to address a particular situation, thus illustrating the role cataloger's judgment can play in cataloging serials. In addition, the development of a trainer listserv has been a great help for trainers preparing for a workshop.

As a trainer, it has been incredibly satisfying to have people tell me that the workshop I've just given will help them do their job better (after one workshop, a participant confided to me that she was no longer "afraid" of serials). Before SCCTP had been established, I had given two similar basic serials cataloging workshops. But with the excellent materials and the support of other trainers, it has been a much better experience both for me and for the participants. The need for basic serials cataloging training is there and SCCTP is successful at providing that information in a workshop format.

-- Steve Shadle (University of Washington)

CONSER Publication Pattern Initiative Poised to Take Off

In the last issue of CONSERline, Diane Hillmann wrote about the need to share pattern and holdings data via CONSER records. While our time frames have slipped a bit, our long-term goals remain to standardize the use of the MARC Format for Holdings Data by system vendors so that libraries can share this data via CONSER records and transport the data when changing systems.

Much has happened in the past six months. To begin with, we realized that this has to be a long term initiative, given the many challenges involved. With that in mind, the task force charge was rewritten, Sally Sinn of the National Agricultural Library was appointed chair, and various task groups were set up to address different aspects of the work. Diane Hillmann will lead the experiment to add pattern data to CONSER records. Sally Sinn will lead a group that will assess library needs and impact on workflow. Linda Miller (LC) will work with others to assess current system compliance with the MARC Format for Holdings Data (MFHD) and also make suggestions for the improvement of the MFHD. Frieda Rosenberg (UNC-Chapel Hill) and others are currently writing documentation that will be used by the participants and she will also be developing a training course in holdings for SCCTP. Mary Ann Van Cura (Cooley Law Library) worked with Jean Hirons to prepare a FAQ which is available on the CONSER Web site. These are just some of the accomplishments and activities that are currently taking place or are scheduled to begin in 2000.

During the fall, fourteen libraries signed up to work on the experiment. Ten system vendors are also represented. At a meeting of task force members, participants, and vendor liaisons at ALA, Rich Greene (OCLC) announced that the 891 field will be available during the spring or early summer.

The experimental phase will include several tasks for the group:

  1. Determining the criteria for loading "seed patterns" into the CONSER database. This will involve working with OCLC to ensure that the quality of the seeded data is optimal. The emphasis will be on current titles with verified data. It's most likely at this point that seeded data will come from Harvard, and that subsequent additions and updates to the CONSER records will be one-at-a-time, rather than batch loaded.
  2. Continuing to work on the documentation for participants and others using the 891 fields. The documentation will be available on the web and continually updated.
  3. Setting up a mechanism for questions and queries from participants and others concerning the pattern data, its maintenance, and use. At this stage we hope to use a method whereby a list that can accept postings from anyone will be used to make sure that all questions are answered and that the burden of answering questions is shared. Answers will be retained and cycled into the FAQ, where they will be available to all.
  4. Ensuring that the body of knowledge collected during the experiment is cycled into improved documentation and training, as well as suggestions for improvement in the MARC 21 Holdings Format.

We would like to have documentation at a "public" stage within the next month or so, and progress on the other tasks should move along in tandem. This is an exciting time for those of us who remember back to the early days of discussions on publication patterns and MARC Holdings, and we're looking forward to moving holdings data into the CONSER mainstream.

-- Jean Hirons and Diane Hillmann (Cornell)

Update on AACR2 and IBSD(S) Revision

In October the Joint Steering Committee for the Revision of AACR (JSC) met and reviewed the proposals in the report, "Revising AACR2 to Accommodate Seriality" prepared by Jean Hirons and others from CONSER. The JSC approved many of the proposals and has charged Hirons and CONSER with preparing rule revision proposals for consideration at their next meeting in March 2000. The CONSER AACR Review Task Force, chaired by Sara Shatford Layne (UCLA), met at ALA Midwinter and is working with Hirons on the revisions, which are due by the end of February.

The JSC approved the model of continuing resources and the definition of "integrating resources" as a new category of material. Chapter 12 will be revised to cover all continuing resources (i.e., those that have no predetermined conclusion). This will include serials and series, loose-leafs, electronic journals, updating databases, and Web sites.

Chapter 12 will focus on the seriality of these resources, while Chapter 9 will contain the rules associated with their electronic aspects.

The JSC also provisionally approved the revision of the code by areas of the description (e.g., title and statement of responsibility, edition, etc.), which would remove the necessity to consult multiple chapters. The revision will probably be a two-step process with revisions initially incorporated into the current structure, followed by the total reorganization at a later date.

Some of the other proposals that were approved include a more limited use of other title information, the ability to exclude words such as "welcome to" from the title, and the ability to supply words denoting "new series" when the numbering begins over again. The last is needed to harmonize AACR2 with ISSN practice. Also approved was the addition of wording to indicate major and minor changes, particularly in association with title changes.

The JSC did not approve the proposal to use the latest title as title proper and the use of multiple publishing statements. However, further consideration may be given to this along with the possible development of an International Standard Title (see below).

Harmonizing AACR2 with ISSN and ISBD(S) remains a strong goal. Members of the ISBD(S) Working Group, chaired by Ingrid Parent (NLC), met just prior to ALA. They agreed to broaden the scope to include all continuing resources, redefine serial along the lines of the JSC proposal (but with minor improvements), and rename the standard ISBD(CR) the International Standard Bibliographic Description for Serials and Other Continuing Resources.

The group also discussed a title change rule that would require many fewer new records. Some of the changes tentatively agreed to include the addition or deletion of the issuing body's name anywhere in the title (also agreed to by the JSC), the addition or deletion of words denoting type of publication anywhere in the title, and the addition to, deletion from, or change in order of words for places, names, or things in a list. The title change rule will have to be harmonized with ISSN and AACR2 and is not final.

Perhaps of most significance was the discussion of an International Standard Title (IST) that would be assigned by catalogers and ISSN agencies, replacing the key title and, in many cases, the AACR2 uniform title. The IST would serve as a benchmark for determining major/minor changes for serials and as a means for distinguishing and identifying the serial, a role currently played by both key and uniform titles. The IST would also make it possible to describe from the latest issue, since the IST would be based on the earliest available issue and would serve as a stable title. A revision of the IST proposal will be prepared by Regina Reynolds (LC) with Reinhard Rinn (Deutsche Bibliothek), Françoise Pellé and Alain Roucolle of the ISSN International Centre, and Jean Hirons (LC) assisting and will be tested this spring.

Next steps include meetings of the JSC and ISSN manual revision group (see below) in March, followed by a meeting of experts to harmonize the three standards in late May. The AACR rule revision recommendations could then be further revised. Presentations on the AACR2 and ISBD(S) revisions will be given at the annual meetings of the North American Serials Interest Group in San Diego and at the ALCTS Preconference on Metadata prior to the annual meeting of ALA in Chicago. The JSC will make the final decision relative to AACR2 at their meeting in London in September. A final draft of ISBD(CR) is planned for the annual meeting of IFLA in Jerusalem in August but final approval could take some time.

-- Jean Hirons (LC)

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ISSN and Seriality

The 23rd Annual Meeting of Directors of ISSN Centres and a meeting of the ISSN Network's Governing Board were held in back-to-back sessions from Sept. 26 - Oct. 5, 1999 in Paris. Regina Reynolds, head of the National Serials Data Program (the U.S. ISSN center) and Maureen Landry, acting chief of Serial Record Division and the U.S. member of the Governing Board, attended the respective meetings which included two joint sessions relating to the strategic plan for the ISSN Network.

Future directions for serials, for the ISSN, and for the ISSN Network were explored by a panel of experts who spoke at the joint strategic planning sessions. Clifford Lynch, head of the Coalition for Networked Information, gave the keynote address in which he reviewed the ISSN's present success and outlined possible scenarios for the ISSN's future. Leslie Daigle of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), Brian Green from Book Industry Communication/EDItEUR, Stuart Ede from the British Library, and Rollo Turner from the Association of Subscription Agents contributed their particular perspectives on the potential uses of the ISSN in the digital environment. Numerous opportunities for the ISSN to solve the identification problems of continuously-updated material on the Web emerged, for example, ISSN's use in subscribing to online services, in computer-to-computer linking, in identifying retrospectively-digitized historic serials, and in e-commerce. Equally numerous were the challenges which the ISSN Network would face in taking on the projected roles: for example, defining the scope the ISSN should encompass, who to serve, and dealing with the limited resources of national centers and current Network funding.

Leslie Daigle also gave a presentation about the URN-ISSN project at one of the joint sessions. This project is one of the first open implementations of the URN (Uniform Resource Name), a persistent naming scheme defined by the IETF. Daigle demonstrated how, by means of a plug-in which is currently being tested by ISSN centers, Web users will be able to type an ISSN into their browser window and be connected to basic metadata about a serial from the ISSN database and to the resource itself, if it is an online serial.

The directors' meeting also devoted several sessions to considering the recommendations of the working group revising the ISDS Manual. This group is adding rules to the manual to accommodate digital serials as well as working on revising current rules to reduce the number of insignificant title changes which result in the need for new ISSN assignments. Additionally, the working group is coordinating their efforts with those of groups revising AACR2 and ISBD(S). One result of such harmonization would be that ISSN records could better serve as the basis for serials cataloging records worldwide.

At the close of the directors meeting, the venue for the fall 2000 meeting was announced. The meeting will be hosted September 26-29, 2000 by the Library of Congress and NSDP.

-- Regina Reynolds (LC)

LC Contracts for Serial Record Conversion

The conversion of the world's largest serial holdings file has long been a pursuit of the Library of Congress' Serial Record Division (SRD). But with the challenges of the size of the file, the many copies, locations and routes associated with many of the titles, getting a vendor had been difficult. Attempts to create an internal system had not been foolproof. So after many years of hopes and false starts and with LC's acquiring Endeavor's Voyager system, SRD finally has the opportunity to and is on the verge of automating its serial record.

Library Systems and Services, Inc. (LSSI) recently was awarded the contract to convert LC's "active" manual serial records. This conversion will entail adding all of the existing holdings, with their corresponding locations, as well as creating predictive "check-in" records, including subscription patterns, for future issues. SRD estimates that approximately 100,000 records will be converted and expects the process to take 18-24 months. LSSI began training the auspicious and snowy week of January 24 when the federal government was closed for two days. January 31, the first actual day of work, brought another "snow" day yet four brave souls reported to work!

Once these records have been converted, users of LC's OPAC either on campus or remotely via the Web, will be able to determine if the Library holds a particular title or issue and where it may be located.

A separate contract, yet to be awarded, will cover the conversion of the "inactive" records. There are approximately 450,000 of these but without the complexities of creating subscription patterns and predictive check-in records, the conversion is expected to proceed more rapidly.

-- Maureen Landry (LC)


PCC Policy Chair, Mike Kaplan, has left Indiana University to return to Massachusetts as Director of Product Management at ExLibris. Mike has been active within PCC from its beginnings and has been a good friend to CONSER. We will miss him and wish him well in his new endeavors.

While this is old news, we have yet to report in CONSERline that Brian Schottlaender, another long-time PCC and CONSER member, left UCLA last summer to become the director of the library at the University of California, San Diego. Brian served as both chair of the CONSER Policy and PCC Policy Committees and was instrumental in the merger of CONSER and PCC.

Carroll Nelson Davis recently left Columbia to return to the Library of Congress as a cataloger of Spanish serials in the Serial Record Division. We at LC are delighted to have him back! Lucy Barron (Harvard) will also be coming to Washington in March as the new head of Serials Cataloging Section II in the Serial Record Division.

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