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The Library of Congress > Cataloging, Acquisitions > PCC > CONSER > CONSERline > No. 20, Winter 2002

No. 20, Winter 2002


From the Editor

Welcome to the Winter 2002 issue of CONSERline.

July 2002 is the expected publication date for the revisions to AACR2 that CONSER members and others in the serials community have worked on since 1997. In preparation for implementation of the revised rules in September, many people are currently involved in rewriting documentation, revising LC rule interpretations, developing training, and working on issues related to implementation. SCCTP will inaugurate two new courses this year, both geared to the changes, and the existing courses are under revision. And, as the two-year pilot of the CONSER publication pattern initiative draws to a conclusion in June, participants are planning next steps. Spring is always a busy time and 2002 will be no exception!

-- Jean Hirons, CONSER Coordinator, Library of Congress

SCCTP inaugurates new courses

Group of people seated at tables

Participants in the Toronto train-the-trainer session: from left, Laura May (Quebec), Dianne Nicholson (Saskatchewan), Carol Baker (Alberta), Steve Shadle (Washington)

Two train-the-trainer sessions were held in January for the newest courses in the Serials Cataloging Cooperative Training Program (SCCTP). Advanced Serials Cataloging Workshop, a two-day workshop developed by Kristin Lindlan (University of Washington) and Margaret Mering (University of Nebraska), will be released in July along with the changes to Chapter 12 of the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd edition, revised. Electronic Serials Cataloging Workshop is a one-day course developed by Steve Shadle (University of Washington) and Les Hawkins (Library of Congress). It will be available at the beginning of April.

Fifty-seven trainers from the United States, Canada, and Mexico attended one of two sessions. The first was held in New Orleans, January 16-18, just prior to the midwinter meeting of the American Library Association. AMIGOS and SOLINET sponsored the session, providing a training room at the New Orleans Public Library and refreshments. The second session was held in Toronto, Canada January 28-30 at Ryerson Polytechnic University. Trina Grover, an SCCTP trainer from Ryerson, and Chair of the Canadian Library Association's Serials Interest Group, coordinated the logistics for the session. Partial funding was provided by the Canadian Library Association and OCLC Canada. This session was truly a North American session, with trainers from Canada, the United States, and Mexico in attendance.

three people talking

Dajin Sun (Yale), Beverley Geer (AMIGOS), and Ann Ercelawn (Vanderbilt) at an informal gathering hosted by Steve Shadle in New Orleans.

OCLC once again made it possible for Cathy Kellum to share her experience with and enthusiasm for training at both sessions.

Many of the trainers for the two new courses are currently trainers for one or both of SCCTP's courses: Basic Serials Cataloging Workshop and Serial Holdings Workshop. However, holding the second session in Canada made it possible for many new trainers from various provinces of Canada to attend. Holding the training sessions in advance of the course finalization enabled the trainers to suggest improvements and additions to the contents.

Both courses will include lecture, exercises, and group discussions. The Advanced Serials workshop is an in-depth review of the rules and principles applied to serials. Each area of the record is covered, as well as major and minor changes (e.g., title changes), and discussion of special types of serials, such as supplements, translations, and reprints. The focus is on printed serials, but the instructions apply to serials in all media. The second day will include opportunities for group review of problems brought from home, full record exercises, and discussions on how serial records are used in library OPACs. The course is geared to those with some experience creating original records for serials, or those with extensive copy cataloging experience.

The Electronic Serials workshop focuses on the issues related to cataloging Web-based journals and other types of electronic serials. Direct access (e.g., CD-ROM) formats and integrating resources are not covered. In addition to reviewing the basic rules and procedures, the course includes problem-solving exercises and discussions on aggregations, single record approach, and other challenges of providing access to electronic serials in libraries. The course is designed for those with some experience cataloging serials and does not include all aspects of serials cataloging, such as title change rules.

A Spanish translation of the new courses will be coordinated by Robert Endean at the Hemeroteca Nacional de Mexico, who attended the Toronto session. There are also plans for translation into French, probably under the sponsorship of the Canadian Library Association.

The popular Basic Serials Cataloging Workshop is currently being reformatted for PDF distribution and the content will be revised to bring it in line with the 2001 and 2002 amendments to AACR2. There will not be any changes to the overall content or scope of the course. The revised materials are scheduled for release in early October.

All SCCTP courses will be available only in PDF format once the Basic Serials Cataloging Workshop has been reformatted. Consult the SCCTP Web site for complete information.

-- Jean Hirons (LC)

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How well are we serving our users?

Serials are a challenge! CONSER catalogers work hard at creating and maintaining accurate records and, with the revision of the Anglo-American Cataloguing Code, there has been much debate in recent years as to what these records should contain. In addition, CONSER has grappled with the proliferation of electronic journals, developing non-cataloging approaches, such as the single record approach and encouraging journal aggregators to supply record sets. More recently, CONSER has begun the sharing of publication patterns by adding them to CONSER records. How are our efforts perceived by the users of the catalog? How successful have we been and what can we do to further improve access to serials?

In preparation for a discussion for the recent CONSER At Large meeting in New Orleans, Jean Hirons invited Kathy Tomajko, Assistant to the Dean, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Julie Gammon, Acquisitions Librarian, University of Akron to provide the perspective from reference and user services and from the acquisitions community. Tomajko is also secretary of RUSA (the Readers and User Services Division of the American Library Association) and a former reference librarian. Each polled their colleagues for responses to four questions supplied by Hirons. Time did not allow for a complete discussion of all of the topics at the At Large meeting. A summary of the discussion and audience comments is available from: <>

The four questions were:

  1. If you, as a reference (or acquisitions) librarian could have your way, what would you change about the way in which serials are currently cataloged/treated in your library?
  2. How effective has CONSER been in addressing the proliferation of electronic serials and the problems involved with them?
  3. How often do you use serial records in the OPAC? How often do you think that patrons use the OPAC for access to serials? In this regard, do you have any thoughts on full vs. core records and the amount of information that we are providing?
  4. What are some of the challenges to acquisitions of successive entry and other serial standards?

Rather than address the questions separately, this article will summarize the problems and potential changes from respondents, explain what CONSER is doing or has already done, and suggest possible future activities for the Program.

How are CONSER records being used?

First, let's begin on a positive note! Despite a number of problems cited in interpreting serial records, reference respondents made it very clear that they and their patrons are using serial records in the OPAC every day and that more information is better than less!

Responding to the inquiry about core records, Kathleen Kleugel (University of Illinois) noted that "a core or other incomplete record shifts more of those lifetime costs from the creator of the record to the searcher and/or user of the record. If a single user of the record has to conduct several searches or consult with a reference librarian in order to find or interpret the record, the time of the user and the time of the librarian must be added to the lifetime cost of that record. These lifetime costs can be reduced if the record is more complete, more readily retrieved, and provides the answer on the first try. So whatever changes are made to the principles and rules for serial cataloging, I would like to see the lifetime costs considered as part of the discussion."

CONSER records are also widely used by subscription vendors. Jennifer O'Connell (EBSCO) and Amira Aaron (Faxon) both noted that they use CONSER records to verify the correct form of title, ISSN, title changes and relationships to other serials, and for subject headings and classification.

The CONSER database is also playing a key role in providing access to aggregations as individual aggregators and vendors use the records to provide access through a variety of products.

Problems and potential changes

While the responses received by Gammon and Tomajko represent a very small portion of the users of CONSER records, the issues raised covered a wide spectrum of problems associated with serials, including inadequate system displays of title changes, multiple ISSNs for print and electronic versions, multiple records for versions, and inadequate maintenance of URLs and bibliographic data.

Many of the comments were in regard to how serial records are retrieved and interpreted. Successive records for title changes, multiple title access points, and poor systems displays make it difficult for users to quickly decipher what a library owns and in which formats. Patrons are used to Amazon and Google and expect to retrieve the "best fit" first, according to Denise Bennett (University of Florida).

CONSER has worked for the past five years on the effort to reduce the number of title changes and the revised rules (expected in mid 2002) will enable significant reductions in new record creation. However, as long as successive entry continues to be used (and there is no change in the foreseeable future), the problem will remain. Better system usage of linking fields may provide one solution.

At the same time, there is, of course, a proliferation of electronic versions in aggregations and as publisher packages. Respondents disagreed on how versions could best be represented in the OPAC. Some emphatically stated that patrons want everything on a single record (including all title changes!). However, some would rather see full records with separate holdings attached to each record. The issue of holdings was also noted in the discussion at the CONSER At Large meeting.

Others pointed out that non-cataloging solutions may be better, particularly in the case of aggregations. CONSER, and later the PCC, pioneered the idea that the creators of aggregations, such as EBSCO, should provide record sets for products. Now, new companies, such as Serials Solutions and TDnet are providing more sophisticated approaches. Interestingly, these companies use the CONSER database as the foundation of their products.

Maintenance of records both on OCLC and locally has always been an issue for CONSER. CONSER was begun in the 1970s with the realization that records for serials would need to be maintained. New categories of membership have been defined that allow maintenance-only contributions by libraries (CONSER enhance) and organizations (affiliate). With the rise of electronic journals, maintenance of URLs has become a major issue. CONSER's new PURL pilot will hopefully be an important step in achieving better control of this volatile but critical information. Comments from acquisitions librarians suggest that CONSER records are not being adequately maintained, that records remain "open" long after the serial has ceased. When records are maintained, the information is included in notes that are not always easily retrievable. CONSER proposed the repeatability of field 260 which will give acquisitions librarians better access to the most recent publisher. But a continuing problem is that CONSER records are maintained on OCLC and not in each library's OPAC. TDnet is currently offering the ability to maintain records at the local level from the updates to the CONSER database. Such solutions are encouraging.

ISSN is a critical part of all serials control and several problems were noted. The first is the ISSN network's policy of assigning separate ISSN to print and electronic versions. The separate ISSN does not work well for libraries that want to tie the versions together in their catalogs. ISSN has enabled much speedier check-in of serials as staff can wand in or key in the ISSN and quickly identify the appropriate record. However, it was noted that publishers are now giving their Web address on the cover rather than the ISSN! The respondent would like CONSER to pressure publishers to put the ISSN back on the covers.

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What can CONSER do?

It is heartening to note that CONSER has or is addressing a number of the concerns and suggestions that were expressed. For instance, one librarian asked that serials catalogers provide access to title abbreviations found in running titles and citations. Several years ago, at the suggestion of the National Library of Medicine, the 210 field was broadened to include all types of journal title abbreviations, rather than those assigned by the ISSN centers, as the field was originally defined. But it is not clear whether libraries other than NLM are using the field. The CONSER PURL pilot is addressing the need for URL maintenance. However, there may be more that CONSER can do. Ideas include:

  • Establish a task force to define "best practices" for system implementation that will optimize linking entry fields (particularly 780 and 785) to enable intelligent displays of successive entry records.
  • Encourage more maintenance of CONSER records through various means. Enabling acquisitions staff in CONSER institutions to update records is one possibility. Increased membership at the CONSER Enhance and affiliate levels is another. Consider whether some of the new vendors might be appropriate affiliate members.
  • Work with the U.S. ISSN Center (NSDP) and MARBI to explore ways of incorporating both print and electronic ISSN in the 022 field of the same record.
  • Encourage CONSER members to provide abbreviations in 210 fields
  • Continue to work on the issues of multiple versions, including awareness of recent experiments with "expression-level cataloging" and working with ILS vendors to enhance system displays.
  • Find ways to continue the dialogue between CONSER and its users.

The contributions to this discussion have been truly appreciated. CONSER Operations Committee members will consider these issues at the upcoming meeting in May 2002.

- Jean Hirons with Kathy Tomajko, Assistant to the Dean, Georgia Institute of Technology and Julie Gammon, Acquisitions Librarian, University of Akron

Update on AACR2

After five years of work, the seriality changes to AACR2 are about to be published! July is the current target and the Library of Congress has announced that it will begin using the new rules as of September 1, 2002. Significant changes to MARC 21, including the code 'i' for integrating resources in the leader and the repeatability of 260, have been published but it is not clear when the changes will be implemented by utilities and systems.

The most significant changes to serials will involve an expanded scope for serial treatment and major revisions to the title change rules. There are also numerous smaller changes to the descriptive rules. The major change in Chapter 12 is that it now covers all "continuing resources," including the newly-defined category of "integrating resources." Loose-leafs, formerly cataloged according to rules created by Adele Hallam, will now be cataloged according to Chapter 12 and the Hallam guide will become obsolete. Electronic resources that are continuing in nature, such as Web sites and updating databases, will also be covered by the new rules for integrating resources in Chapter 12.

Judy Kuhagen, the serial specialist in LC's Cataloging Policy and Support Office, is working with catalogers in LC and in CONSER and BIBCO libraries to revise the LC rule interpretations. Many of the serial RIs will be deleted as they have been incorporated into the rules. Instructions relating to integrating resources will be added, however.

As a result of the changes, the CONSER Cataloging Manual (CCM) is undergoing its first major revision. The CONSER Editing Guide (CEG) will also be revised to reflect AACR2 changes and possibly to incorporate the MARC 21 changes in anticipation of implementation sometime in 2002-2003. The new edition of the CCM and a 2002 update to the CEG are expected in late 2002. There will be no other updates to either document during 2002.

Training is also a high priority. CONSER and BIBCO catalogers will receive training in serials and integrating resources at their annual meeting in early May. Serials training will be provided by Jean Hirons and Les Hawkins. The PCC Standing Committee on Training has asked Steve Miller (University of Wisconsin, Madison) to coordinate the development and presentation of training for integrating resources at the meeting. In June there will be several opportunities for others to receive training. At ALA, Jean Hirons, Regina Reynolds (LC), and Rhonda Lawrence (UCLA Law Library) will provide a training session on Monday afternoon, June 17, sponsored by the ALCTS Serial Section's Committee to Study Serials Cataloging. Later that week, Hirons and Hawkins will provide a three-hour session at the annual meeting of the North American Serials Interest Group that will focus on serials and electronic integrating resources. While no separate SCCTP course will be developed, SCCTP trainers will be available to provide 2-3 hour sessions covering the changes using the course materials developed for the June training sessions. A more formal course in integrating resources may be developed under the auspices of the Standing Committee on Training at a later date.

-- Jean Hirons (LC)

CONSER Pattern Pilot Nears Completion

The CONSER Publication Pattern Initiative began a two-year pilot in June 2000 to add patterns to the CONSER database. June 2002 will mark the end of the pilot and CONSER members and pilot participants will decide on next steps. Surveys were sent to pilot participants and to non-participating CONSER members in February to ascertain their willingness to continue contributing as CONSER or CONSER enhance members, their ability to use the patterns, or their interest in participating in the future.

Those who attended the recent meeting of the task force at ALA in January agreed that the pilot has been a great success. Over 43,000 records now contain patterns and catalogers reported that they frequently found patterns in OCLC records, both for new serials and for serials that have undergone change. In addition to the large load of pattern data from the Harvard database in spring 2001, participants have contributed over 2500 patterns using the pattern macro designed by Robert Bremer (OCLC).

Some libraries have revised their workflows to enable pattern contribution and usage. Michigan State worked with Innovative Interfaces to develop a pattern loader (see CONSERline no. 19) that enables them to bring the pattern in the OCLC record into their local system in order to set up the check-in record. The University of Georgia, a Voyager user, is not able to use the patterns in OCLC at present, but was nevertheless able to contribute over 1000 patterns to CONSER records by having a staff person dedicated to holdings and pattern creation. Wen-ying Lu (Michigan State) will be coordinating the Workflow Task Group, which will develop various templates and best practices regarding pattern creation and usage, depending on size of library and ability of the ILS to use the patterns. The templates should be useful to libraries newly implementing systems that use MARC holdings to enable planning for workflow changes.

With the exception of VTLS and III, other ILS systems cannot make full use of the pattern data because of non-compatibility with the MARC 21 Format for Holdings. While many systems claim to be compliant, there are still significant differences that do not allow full usage. Working with systems to assure compliance will be a major focus of the CONSER initiative in the years to come.

With many libraries implementing MARC holdings for the first time, CONSER is trying to meet the needs of training and information sharing. In addition to the excellent SCCTP Serial Holdings course, CONSER will sponsor informal two hour workshops at ALA on Sunday mornings from 10:00-12:00. These sessions are open to all and will provide a forum for information sharing on recent developments, a chance to share problems in pattern creation, and an opportunity to discuss system-specific applications of the holdings format. Problems and solutions from the workshop will be posted to the CONSER Publication Pattern Initiative Web site.

The end of the pilot will also mark the completion of Sally Sinn's term as chair of the CONSER Publication Pattern and Holdings Task Force. Sinn has been an eloquent spokesperson for the initiative and an able chair. Ruth Haas (Harvard), who has extensive experience with the format, will become the new chair following the June 2002 meeting.

-- Jean Hirons (LC)

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CONSER PURL Pilot is Underway

January 28th marked the beginning of CONSER testing of an OCLC-hosted PURL server. The use of PURLs (persistent uniform resource location) enables one-time maintenance of the source URL (uniform resource location) on the server, rather than in each instance of its use in bibliographic records. The PURL is a creation of OCLC and it has been widely used by the U.S. Government Printing Office and other libraries.

The suggestion that CONSER use PURLS was proposed by Becky Culbertson (UCSD) and Valerie Bross (UCLA) at the annual CONSER meeting May, 2001. The proposal recommended that a group of CONSER participants test the concept of cooperative maintenance of URLs for freely available e-resources through an OCLC-hosted PURL server. The proposal further recommended that (contingent on success of the test) a recommendation be forwarded to PCC regarding use of a PURL server for records maintained by BIBCO/CONSER institutions.

Currently, seven volunteers have registered with the PURL server: Naomi Young (University of Florida), Steve Shadle (University of Washington), Mary Grenci (University of Oregon), Renette Davis (University of Chicago), Becky Culbertson (UC San Diego), Charlene Chou (Columbia University), and Valerie Bross (UCLA). Eric Childress acted as OCLC Liaison for the group May-September 2001; Susan Walker replaced him as OCLC Liaison in September. She helped guide revision of the PURL software, and is serving as OCLC resource person for the group.

Several people helped re-write the proposal as a project document, notably Renette Davis (University of Chicago) and Renee Chin (UCSD). The project document--still a work in progress--now includes an overview, a time frame, evaluation questions, and a summary outline of procedures. Aside from the project document, Renette Davis has also developed step-by-step working procedures. In addition to ongoing development of documentation, participants submit monthly reports during the test period and will assist with the final report due at the end of April 2002.

The minimum requirement for participation in the CONSER PURL Pilot is creation of at least 20 PURLs for URLs on new or existing OCLC records. As of February 19, 2002, volunteers have created nearly 300 PURLs.

A Web page for the project is hosted on the CONSER Web site:

-- Valerie Bross, University of California, Los Angeles

At Long Last—Bowker Cataloger Hired for NSDP

Vanessa MitchellWhat does it take to turn a dream into reality? In this case it took almost five years, several teams of attorneys and human resources staff, drafts of contracts, amendments to contracts, and lots of patience to turn an idea that Judy Salk, (then a Bowker manager) and I shared into a present-day reality.

On January 22, 2002, Vanessa Mitchell began her work as an R.R. Bowker employee located in NSDP assigning ISSN to U.S. serials and creating records in both the ISSN database and Bowker's Ulrich's database for these same serials. One focus of Vanessa's work will be identifying serials new to the Ulrich's database, especially electronic serials. NSDP's stream of ISSN requests for new and forthcoming serials will provide Vanessa with an ongoing source of serials to catch in her Ulrich's net. In addition to creating Ulrich's records for new serials, Vanessa will also research, request, and add ISSN to those records in the Ulrich's database which lack ISSN, and work on occasional projects for Bowker that can benefit from her location at the Library of Congress. Vanessa will ensure that all ISSN added to Ulrich's are also present in the Library of Congress's ILS. As a result of this collaboration between Bowker and NSDP, Bowker has become an affiliate member of CONSER. Vanessa will serve as Bowker's representative to the CONSER program and the ISSN records she creates in the CONSER database will represent Bowker's contribution as an affiliate member.

NSDP and the Library of Congress also expect to benefit from this partnership in many ways. NSDP will gain needed assistance in answering requests for ISSN from U.S. publishers, especially in the growing area of electronic serials. Also, the addition of ISSN to serial records in the ILS results in greatly increased efficiencies for Acquisitions and check-in staff because search, identification, and retrieval of records is faster and more accurate using the ISSN. Finally, the CONSER ISSN records Vanessa creates in conjunction with Ulrich's records will be enhanced by the addition of subject headings, fuller Dewey numbers than NSDP typically provides, and information concerning abstracting and indexing and peer review.

Welcome, Vanessa! Welcome, Bowker!

-- Regina Reynolds (LC)

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