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The Library of Congress > Cataloging, Acquisitions > PCC > CONSER > CONSERline > No. 22, Winter 2003

No. 22, Winter 2003


From the Editor

Welcome to the Winter 2003 issue of CONSERline.

After a very cold and very intense ALA midwinter conference in Philadelphia, CONSER is beginning to tackle the idea of an "aggregator-neutral" record and all that is associated with it. As I am becoming more engrossed in the issues, I'm realizing just what an unstable and difficult bibliographic world we are trying to control! 2003 promises to be another busy and challenging year for all aspects of the program as new task forces address various issues related to publication patterns, as we look to new types of training, and as we reexamine the current membership structure. But 2003 also marks the 30th anniversary of CONSER and we can be collectively proud of all our achievements, knowing that the challenges have always been there and always will be.

As this issue of CONSERline "goes to press," I have made the difficult but exciting decision to take early retirement from the Library of Congress at the end of June. I am retiring in order to pursue my love of pastel painting, as well as getting more exercise and time to enjoy travel with my husband. I hope to retain some involvement with the library community for a while to assure a smooth transition. There will be more about this in the next issue of CONSERline, I'm sure!

-- Jean Hirons, CONSER Coordinator

CONSER Begins Defining The "Aggregator-Neutral" Record

[Editor's note: it was during a discussion on publication patterns at ALA when a participant from Connecticut said that her library had defined an "aggregator-neutral record," that we finally got a better name for "Option B+"! Thank you!]

Now to back up a bit. As many of you know, last year CONSER surveyed the library community to determine how we could best meet our own needs and those of other libraries in the realm of online serials. The survey suggested a single record for all online versions, which was almost unanimously approved. 85% also agreed that the description of the record should be based on the journal as presented on the primary publisher's Web site, if available. Two options were included. Option A would include all appropriate URLs and other data about the aggregator. Option B would be a clean record with no aggregator-specific URLs or other aggregator information. Somewhat surprisingly two thirds of the respondents chose Option B. In discussing how to carry out these wishes in the existing database, Jean Hirons, in consultation with Robert Bremer at OCLC, proposed Option B+, which was later approved by CONSER. This was essentially the clean record with the addition of URLs. A proposal to proceed with this approach was brought to the PCC Policy Committee in November and approved.

The Option B+ proposal entails a number of tasks, including the collapsing of existing records in OCLC, creating cataloging guidelines for the single online record, resolving issues related to ISSN, educating aggregators, and finding ways to create records so that the CONSER database is more complete.

The last task raises the issue of the continuation of the CONSER single-record option. The option will be retained and it is still quite appropriate for some resources. However, its popularity has meant that many CONSER libraries have not created separate records for online serials. Some libraries are now opting for a separate record approach because of the ability to more easily add and delete the records. And with print subscriptions being discontinued, and the potential future disappearance of some print, this may not be a good long-term option. However, for internal use at least, the single-record remains very popular and it will need to be retained as an option for CONSER libraries. There will be further discussion of this topic among CONSER libraries.

In order to help CONSER with the creation of some of the needed records, the PCC/SCA's 3rd Task Force on Journals in Aggregator Databases, under the leadership of Adolfo Tarango (University of California, San Diego), is investigating machine-deriving records from records for the print or other formats. As a first step in the process, the Task Force is isolating the data elements in a source record that can be transferred or edited to create a core base record for the online version. Additionally, they will identify elements that need to be added to the resulting core record and methods by which these elements can be added during the machine-deriving process. While the task force will continue its role of working with aggregators to create record sets, the creation of a single complete set of records in the CONSER database that can be used by aggregators, serials management companies, OCLC, and libraries to create sets for in-house use has become a primary role.

Various groups have been established to investigate the tasks outlined in the Option B+ proposal. Robert Bremer is leading a group that will propose guidelines for record collapsing. Regina Reynolds (LC) is working on ISSN issues and is leading the group that will work on aggregator education and is hoping to hold a forum at ALA annual in Toronto. Completed recommendations will be brought to the CONSER Operations meeting in early May for approval. Following the meeting, work will begin on collapsing records in the OCLC/CONSER database and cataloging procedures will be documented.

This is an important step for CONSER. Up until now, the CONSER database has consisted of whatever records its participants have chosen to contribute. With this approach, we are identifying a body of titles that require records and we are looking at various means of creating and maintaining those records. The challenges of maintenance cannot be minimized and there are important issues that need to be decided. As always, the decisions will be made collectively from the knowledge and wisdom of all of those in the Program.

-- Jean Hirons and Adolfo Tarango (UCSD), Chair, PCC 3rd Task Group on Journals in Aggregator Databases

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New Projects Underway for CONSER Publication Pattern Initiative

Since successfully completing the two-year pilot to add publication patterns to CONSER records, members of the CONSER Publication Patterns and Holdings Task Force have been busy identifying new goals and adding new members. Those recently joining the initiative are: Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, the Detroit Law School at Michigan State University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign.

Four new task groups have been set up to address the possibilities of a universal holdings record, whether there is a need for pattern data related to electronic journals, methods by which subscription companies might contribute, and issues related to the long-term storage of pattern data. In addition, OCLC is exploring the possibility of providing new products and services related to the pattern initiative.

The Task Force to Explore the Use of a Universal Holdings Record is chaired by Diane Hillmann (Cornell). The charge is to define potential uses and recommend strategies for implementation, as appropriate. A basic concept of a "universal holdings" record is that it would exist in utilities, it would be linked in some manner to the bibliographic record, and would contain information universal to the serial itself, such as the publication patterns and the complete published holdings. The task force met in Philadelphia and discussed the need for a less confusing name for the concept, the need to keep FRBR considerations in mind, and the need to consider relationships with various aspects of the bibliographic record. The group hopes to complete their work by winter 2004.

Linda Miller (LC) is chairing the Task Force to Explore Long-term Storage of Publication Pattern and Holdings Data. While publication pattern data is now stored in OCLC bibliographic records, this is not a good long-term solution. The work of this group will be closely aligned with the universal holdings group, as Miller's task force will be considering the technical aspects of storing such data.

Beth Jedlicka (University of Georgia) is chairing the Task Force to Explore Partnerships with Subscription Agents. Currently, the group is working with EBSCO and reviewing lists of frequency changes to determine how such data might be used to update patterns in the CONSER database.

The Task Force to Explore the Needs and Uses for Holdings and Pattern Data for Electronic Journal, chaired by Yumin Jiang (University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Library), is exploring the potential need for publication pattern data for electronic journals. They are developing a survey that will be circulated to the library community in March and are investigating other avenues for gaining insight into the future needs for control of electronic journals. This topic was the focus of an informal discussion at ALA Midwinter and drew lively conversation but no conclusions.

In addition, OCLC is exploring the possibility of offering an update service for patterns and a "snapshot" of records containing patterns that could be purchased by library vendors.

It is indeed a very busy and stimulating time as we continue our efforts to add and maintain patterns while exploring new directions. In Philadelphia, we took the chance to honor several of our most active contributors at the PCC Participants meeting on Sunday night. Wen-ying Lu (Michigan State) was presented a certificate of appreciation for her efforts in recruiting and developing a mentoring program. Rene Blakey (University of Georgia) was noted for being the single largest contributor of patterns. And Frieda Rosenberg (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) was recognized for her many contributions to the world of holdings which have earned her the title "mother of holdings"!

-- Carlen Ruschoff (University of Maryland), Chair CONSER Publication Pattern and Holdings Task Force

CONSER Task Force on FRBR and Continuing Resources

Last spring at the CONSER Operations Meeting, in response to increasing interest in the IFLA FRBR document within the international cataloging community, the CONSER "FRBR and Continuing Resources Task Force" was established. The group is co-chaired by Everett Allgood (New York University) and Ed Jones. The task force does not have a specific directive to accomplish; rather, the charge in its broadest terms addresses the group's role of "providing ongoing comment and analysis on the uses of FRBR for continuing resources."

Published in 1998, FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records) is a conceptual model that holds great promise in moving toward a more robust and functional catalog. Two specific areas, of particular interest to serialists that may be addressed by the model are: 1) the multiple versions problem; and, 2) the ability to display and take advantage of the complex linking relationships serial catalogers have painstakingly constructed. Relationships are a primary component of the FRBR model, not only the vertical and horizontal relationships between titles within a successive-entry catalog, but also creator/issuing body and subject relationships.

Successive-entry conventions have forced the CONSER task force to confront some difficult questions in our deliberations. "What is a work within the realm of continuing resources, and specifically for serials cataloged according to successive entry?" "How may we best represent multiple physical manifestations of serials?" Most of these questions remain unanswered but the discussions have been lively!

One approach being considered by others that the task force will address is the potential for gathering works and expressions via identifiers or citations within the authority file. For this effort, we are closely following the developments of two groups. The JSC Format Variation Working Group is charged with studying expression-level cataloging. This group is currently working on rule revision proposals for AACR Chapter 25 (Uniform titles). Second, The IFLA FRANAR (Functional Requirements and Numbering of Authority Records) Working Group is studying the role of authority records within the catalog. Their final report will likely become a companion to FRBR.

The task force charge and roster and related documents are available via the CONSER website.

-- Everett Allgood (New York University), Co-chair, CONSER Task Force on FRBR and Continuing Resources

SCCTP to Release Integrating Resources Course

Thanks to the talents and hard work of Steve Miller (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), SCCTP will be releasing a new course in integrating resources this spring. One of the first opportunities to take the workshop will be at ALA annual where this course and the popular Electronic Serials Workshop are each being given in four consecutive one-day sessions as preconferences. Registration is now open on the ALA Web site.

The Integrating Resources workshop covers all aspects of description and maintenance of both electronic and printed integrating resources. The focus of the course is on the cataloging of updating Web sites and online databases and includes numerous examples. The cataloging of updating loose-leafs is also included and optional components cover some of the more complex aspects, such as loose-leaf services. As with all SCCTP courses, practical suggestions and problem solving are combined with instructions on how to catalog to national standards. For more information on the course, visit the SCCTP Web site.

With the completion of the Integrating Resources Workshop, SCCTP will have developed five workshops in the five years since the Program was first conceived! This has been an extremely busy time, particularly as several of these courses have also undergone extensive revision. Although no new workshops will be developed this year, e three new initiatives are planned for 2003. The first is an assessment survey that will help us determine the effectiveness of SCCTP workshops. Trainees regularly fill out evaluations at the end of each session and these evaluations have been very useful in determining needed changes. However, there has been no study to determine how effective the course materials have been once the trainee is back on the job. The survey will contain separate parts for completion by trainees and their supervisors. The results will be used to determine further changes to the existing courses and to help direct future initiatives, particularly in the area of distance learning.

Another initiative will be to recruit new trainers to teach the first and most popular workshop, Basic Serials Cataloging. Since the original group of over forty catalogers were trained in 1999, many have gone on to teach subsequent SCCTP workshops or have moved to other positions. New recruits and training sites will be identified during the year with the goal of holding two train-the-trainer sessions in 2003. Announcements will be sent to various lists.

SCCTP's next venture will no doubt involve some form of distance learning. There are several possibilities. We could develop Web-based alternatives to the existing workshops, revising them to fit this format. A second possibility is to develop Web-based adjuncts to the workshops that students could sign on to after taking a workshop. This would hopefully allow students to process what they have learned as they are working on the job. The results of the assessment survey will be particularly useful in helping us decide which direction to take. Any ventures into distance learning will no doubt be done in conjunction with one or more of the OCLC network affiliates. A big thanks to Laura Kimberly of AMIGOS, who represents the networks on the SCCTP Advisory Board and is a strong proponent for this type of continuing education.

-- Jean Hirons

CONSER Documentation Update

The new 2002 edition of the CONSER Cataloging Manual (CCM) was issued last November and will soon be available on the Cataloger's Desktop. This is a complete new edition that incorporates all of the changes to AACR2, as well as changes in CONSER practice that have occurred since the CCM was first issued in 1993. It is available from the Cataloging Distribution Service. The next update to the CCM will include a completely revised Module 31 (Remote Access Electronic Serials) that will incorporate the new provisions of the "aggregator-neutral" record (see above.) It will hopefully be available in early fall.

The first update to the CONSER Editing Guide (CEG) since 2001 is almost complete and should be available in printed form in early spring. Work on the CEG was halted while the CCM was being revised. As might be expected, this is a very large update and encompasses a number of changes that have occurred during the past two years.

With the completion of the new CCM edition and the update to the CEG, we hope to return to a more normal pattern of updating. That schedule usually entails two updates to the CEG and one to the CCM per year. However, the schedule always remains flexible to enable us to provide updates as needed.

-- Jean Hirons and Les Hawkins (LC)

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510 Indexing and Abstracting Coverage Fields to be Removed

The PCC Policy Committee at its November 2002 meeting made the difficult decision to remove most of the abstracting and indexing coverage 510 fields from CONSER records. 510 fields previously maintained by NLM will be stored in the NLM LOCATORplus catalog and will no longer be included in CONSER records. 510 fields maintained by Chemical Abstracts, however, will be retained in the records. The decision to remove the 510 fields is based on the fact that the majority of the data has not been and cannot be maintained. Perhaps the largest problem is that new services have come into existence since the data was first added that are not represented in CONSER records. There is also the recognition that more reliable sources of this data, such as the Bowker and EBSCO directories, are readily available online.

The abstracting and indexing coverage fields were added during the mid 1980's as a specially funded project to enhance the value of CONSER records. The original plan called for the national libraries in the United States and Canada to maintain the data over time. However, continued staffing shortages have made it impossible for most of the libraries to fulfill this responsibility. During the mid 1990's, a task force headed by Cindy Hepfer (SUNY-Buffalo Health Sciences Library) polled the library community to determine whether the 510 fields should be retained or deleted. The responses were exactly a 50-50 split! With this inconclusive result, little was done, other than to make it possible to systematically remove selected 510 fields to a Web site to relieve problems related to record-length. While the record-length issue is about to go away, the fact that the data is no longer reliable cannot be ignored.

The experience with the 510 fields is also informing us as we make decisions regarding the addition of URLs in CONSER records. We know that the 510 fields were very useful for some time and we also know that URLs in CONSER records have also been useful. But as technology, publishing patterns, and in-house needs change, we may find that URLs are the 510s of the 21st century!

The removal will begin in early March and proceed through the spring.

-- Jean Hirons


Ron Watson ("Uncle CONSER") Retires

Ron Watson

Ron at the CONSER 25th anniversary celebration in 1997

Ron Watson quietly retired from the University of California, Los Angeles on January 6th after 37 1/2 years of service to the UCLA Library. Ron's dedication to serials cataloging and to CONSER were famous throughout UCLA and CONSER and his program colleagues affectionately dubbed him "Uncle CONSER."

Ron began his career at UCLA in July 1965 as a library assistant and by 1971 was head of the Processing Section. After receiving his MLS from UCLA, he began work as a serials cataloger in October 1973. For many years he was the heart and soul of the Serials Cataloging Section and for approximately five years served as its head.

Ron's career in serials parallels CONSER's. According to Ron, he wasn't actually present at the first meeting of the "Toronto Group" (the first group to discuss the formation of the CONSER Project), but he did walk by the room in which they were meeting! He attended the first CONSER Operations Committee meeting at OCLC headquarters in Dublin, Ohio, October 10th, 1978. The high quality of his work and that of his section led to LC's inviting UCLA in the 1980s to be among the first institutions to independently check the accuracy of ("authenticate") its own work. He fostered a cooperative spirit within the program, where the work of CONSER serial catalogers came to be treated as the equivalent to that of LC's catalogers.

He personally advocated that LC stage a CONSER Subject Seminar in 1993; this did much to bring the serials catalogers' knowledge of subject analysis up to the level of expertise they had achieved in descriptive cataloging. His efforts to teach, train, review, and share advice have always been numerous and generous. He expanded CONSER participation at UCLA to include Law, East Asian languages, and Biomed catalogers and he helped catalogers at the University of California, San Diego and the University of Oregon achieve independence as CONSER member libraries.

In 1991, Ron bought a new Honda with license plates that read "California CONSER." The photo of Ron and his car graced the cover of the CONSER newsletter and helped earn his reputation as a true "CONSERholic"! He will be greatly missed.

-- Jean Hirons (LC) and John Riemer (UCLA)

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