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The Library of Congress > Cataloging, Acquisitions > PCC > CONSER > CONSERline > No. 23, Summer 2003

No. 23, Summer 2003


From the Editor

Welcome to the Summer 2003 issue of CONSERline.

As this is the last time that I will serve as editor of CONSERline, I thought I would write a personal message to you all on the occasion of my retirement, rather than asking someone else to write yet another article about me! I am now officially retired and working part time as a consultant to the Library of Congress. Les Hawkins and I are keeping CONSER going until a new coordinator is hired, hopefully this fall.

Many of you read the message I sent out in March or heard me speak at ALA, but others may be wondering why I chose to retire at this time. I am taking early retirement for the primary purpose of advancing my career as a pastel painter. I have been working in pastel for some time now and have recently begun teaching and I find myself being drawn more and more in that direction. I also want to spend more time with my husband, get more exercise, and travel. But perhaps equally important, I believe it is time for a new CONSER Coordinator, one who is more in tune with today's environment and the changes in serials. So, for all of these reasons, I am embarking on a new phase in life and it is quite exciting.

I am privileged to have served in this position for the past ten years. There have been so many challenges, but also so many opportunities to work collaboratively with a very hard working, dedicated group of librarians. For me, this has definitely been the best part of being CONSER Coordinator. As CONSER looks to its future, after the successes of the past thirty years, I know that it will continue to enjoy the support of a talented and dedicated group of catalogers, trainers, and administrators who are now international in scope. I hope to continue to play a small role in that future, at least for a short time. Many thanks and best wishes to you all.

-- Jean Hirons, CONSER Consultant

CONSER Celebrates 30 Years

Bob Wolven and Jean Hirons

Bob Wolven, (Columbia), Chair of the PCC Policy Committee and Jean Hirons

It was most fitting that CONSER, which was conceptualized in Toronto in 1973, should celebrate its thirtieth anniversary in Toronto at the combined meetings of the American and Canadian Library Associations. Despite the SARS scare, the Program for Cooperative Cataloging's Participants meeting was well attended, as were the SCCTP workshops, held as three consecutive preconferences in honor of CONSER's anniversary. The workshops, co-sponsored by the ALCTS Serials Section, included a session on Electronic Serials, taught by Steve Shadle (U.Washington), and two sessions of Integrating Resources presented by Steven Miller (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) and Trina Grover (Ryerson University). Participants in the workshops and the PCC meeting received commemorative CONSER robotic calculators. Many thanks to Julie Gammon of the ALCTS Serials Section who did much of the planning for the preconferences.

At the Sunday night PCC meeting, Bob Wolven (Columbia), Chair of the PCC Policy Committee, updated the audience on the state of the PCC, and then turned the program over to CONSER. To celebrate the Canadian connection to CONSER, the program featured two speakers from Canada, as well as Jean Hirons speaking on the future of CONSER. Elizabeth McKeen, Director of Bibliographic Access, Library and Archives of Canada (LAC), spoke about the history of CONSER from the Canadian perspective. The Library, then the National Library of Canada, was one of the founding members of CONSER. McKeen reminisced on some of the challenges of the early days of computerization, specifically noting that "the line that ran between Ottawa and somewhere in upper New York State was a fairly accurate indicator of thunderstorms and other meteorological disturbances!" Despite early thoughts that CONSER was a "pretty crazy notion," the Library has remained an active participant and now, according to McKeen "Canada is in the happy position of being a country whose serial imprints are widely captured in one of the most complete, most high quality, and most accessible databases in the world. On a fundamental level, CONSER has assisted the spread of Canadian thought and ideas throughout North America and the world." McKeen concluded that "with all of the accomplishments of the first 30 years as a rock-solid base, the world is CONSER's oyster."

Group shot

Ann Ercelawn, Jean Hirons, Steve Shadle, and Trina Grover

Carol Baker, serials cataloger at the University of Calgary, spoke on the impact of the Serials Cataloging Cooperative Training Program (SCCTP) in Canada. Canadian trainers have been involved since the beginning of SCCTP, but the fact that three train-the-trainer sessions were held in Canada made it possible for more to become involved. There are now trainers from coast-to-coast and over a dozen workshops have been held across Canada. But there are challenges in a country the size of Canada. With one trainer in each of provinces the size of Alberta and Saskatchewan, how do you provide a team of trainers? Canada also lacks the training infrastructure provided by ALA regional associations and OCLC network affiliates. However, with the addition of new rules for electronic serials and integrating resources, these workshops are needed more than ever. She noted that plans are underway to have an official French translation of the Basic Serials workshop in the near future. [Editor's note: LAC is coordinating the translation and two francophones will be attending train-the-trainer sessions this fall.] In her concluding remarks, Baker claimed that SCCTP has been well received in Canada. Participants have gained increased confidence in their ability to catalog continuing resources and SCCTP has brought effective, affordable, and highly desired cataloging training to the Canadian library community. Baker finished by expressing her gratitude to Jean Hirons for initiating and implementing SCCTP.

Hirons then discussed the future of the CONSER program and the challenges that will be faced by the next CONSER Coordinator. The cataloging environment is constantly undergoing change and the program's vitality depends on its ability to change with the environment. Hirons outlined five strategies that have been useful to her in the past and which will serve the program and the new coordinator well in the future.

  1. Find that which is sharable and avoid duplication. Shared records, maintenance, and training have been the strength of CONSER and no doubt will continue to be in the future. However, the increasing degree of individual customization in libraries is challenging our ability to share.
  2. Be creative in solving problems. When a new challenge presents itself, decide first what it is that must be accomplished, and then consider if the rules need to be changed or amended. The materials cataloged, particularly electronic resources, force us to remain flexible and think outside the box. We need to acknowledge when an approach we've taken doesn't work and must be willing to change.
  3. Periodically redefine the program. Early on in CONSER's history, a retreat was held to redefine the program's goals, membership, even its name. CONSER is once again redefining itself by reviewing membership levels, CONSER's international role, and the role of the bibliographic record. The baseline of quality records and documentation that CONSER has established provide a good foundation.
  4. Leadership. CONSER has played a leading role in many areas, the revision of AACR2, development of SCCTP, defining standards for electronic serials. Paraphrasing Brian Schottlaender, Hirons said that CONSER's role is the business of cataloging. We are not just about records, but everything associated with cataloging-- the ILS, user needs, and documentation--and CONSER needs to continue its leadership role in these areas.
  5. Retain the personal touch. Collegiality has been a key to CONSER's success, and this can't be overvalued. The program has drawn on the talents, connections and discussions of its members to solve problems.

Final remarks included thanks to her many PCC and Library of Congress colleagues who she has enjoyed working with over the past years. A videotaped version of the speech is available.

Following the speech, Hirons presented certificates of appreciation to three of the many people involved in SCCTP: Ann Ercelawn (Vanderbilt University), Steve Shadle, and Trina Grover.

The program ended with a celebratory cake, contributed by the Library and Archives of Canada, and coffee, contributed by TDNet, an electronic journals management system produced by TDNet Ltd., a subsidiary of Teldan Information Systems.

CONSER Welcomes New Members

CONSER has a new associate member and four new enhance members. Cooperative Computer Services is a consortium of 21 public libraries in the North Suburban Library System, located near Chicago. They have joined as an associate member and will be the first group of libraries to join as a type of CONSER funnel. CCS is an active NACO contributor. Collection strengths include popular adult and juvenile magazines, Illinois serials, Spanish and Eastern European language serials. Roger Anderson, database manager for CCS, will serve as the CONSER Operations representative. Andrea Olson, Cleveland Public Library, will coordinate training for CCS members contributing to CONSER.

Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR and the National University in San Diego have recently become independent CONSER Enhance members. Oregon State has nationally recognized programs in Forestry, Oceanography, Marine and Estuary Research and Engineering. Oregon State is a land grant, sea grant and space grant institution, one of only six universities in the country to have all three titles. Bonnie Parks is the representative from Oregon State. Kristin Lindlan and Steve Shadle at the University of Washington served as mentors.

National University is a non-traditional institution focused on the adult learner. The central library is in San Diego, with satellite facilities (library information centers) throughout California. Because of the dispersed nature of its student population, remotely accessible electronic resources form a greater proportion of NU's collections than in most libraries. Ed Jones represents NU. Ed was formerly the head of Harvard's CONSER office and is currently co-chair of the CONSER FRBR Task Force.

Tulane University and the University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Library System are currently undergoing training and mentoring to be CONSER Enhance members. Valerie Bross (UCLA) is mentoring Peter Fletcher of Tulane and Hien Nguyen (LC) is mentoring Yumin Jiang, Pittsburgh.

CONSER welcomes all of the contributions of these libraries. As we embark on creation of aggregator neutral records and increased maintenance of electronic resources records, we welcome the participation of additional members. Contact Les Hawkins for more information, or view the membership pages on the CONSER Web site at:

-- Jean Hirons (LC)

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CONSER Defines the "Aggregator-neutral" Record

At the CONSER Operations Committee meeting in May, members agreed to guidelines for the creation and modification of aggregator-neutral records for titles in electronic aggregations. The aggregator-neutral record is separate from the record for the print, and is intended to represent all online manifestations of a serial. Information that is specific to particular electronic providers is not included in the record, except in the source of description note and URLs.

Earlier CONSER policy called for creation of separate records for a title held in multiple electronic packages. It is expected that the aggregator-neutral record will reduce maintenance required on CONSER records and provide a cleaner record for libraries and serial management companies to download and customize.

According to decisions made at the meeting, aggregator-neutral records will not contain aggregator names in uniform titles, issuing body notes, and added entries. Once a record is created or adapted and any duplicate records reported for deletion, the record would contain multiple URLs for all the aggregators that provide the title. OCLC has identified a subset of records that will need to be consolidated and has begun maintenance on records that will be retained. Aggregator names have been removed from uniform titles and further adjustment of specific fields is ongoing. Cataloging guidelines on the CONSER Website (see below) include instructions for consolidating and reporting duplicate records as catalogers encounter them.

CONSER Operations Committee representatives agreed that cataloging efforts and URL maintenance should be focused on aggregations and publisher Web sites that maintain e-serials as discrete identifiable entities in a package. For databases that are article-based rather than issue-based, the PCC Task Group on Journals in Aggregator Databases is testing the automated creation of record sets. The group has begun creation of a small test record set for Lexis-Nexis to determine how records will be authenticated and which fields are needed.

CONSER representatives also agreed that the cataloging guidelines for the aggregator-neutral record should be applicable as much as possible to the cataloging of all electronic serials, whether or not they have a print equivalent. Implementation began July 1, 2003. Field-by-field cataloging guidelines and an FAQ have been posted at: The full CONSER Operations Committee meeting summary is available from and contains the principles upon which guidelines for the aggregator-neutral record were made. The CONSER Cataloging Manual Module 31 will be updated to reflect the guidelines this summer and should be available through CDS sometime this fall.

-- Les Hawkins, CONSER Specialist

Arabic Vernacular Records Now Being Added to CONSER Database

Group sitting around a computer monitor

From left, LC Cairo Field Office staff: Yousry Wissa Guirguis, Wessam Samir, Ayman Mohamed El-Masry, Magdy Hosny (Turkish Acquisitions and Cataloging Specialist), Ahmed Mostafa El-Sayed (Head, Serials Section), and LC Serials Cataloger, Hoda Fateen.

What began as an idea in December 2002 for the Library of Congress and its Cairo Field Office to begin using vernacular script in records for Arabic serials in OCLC became a reality in just a few months. Hoda Fateen, the Arabic serials cataloger in LC, trained the serials staff in the LC Cairo Office in March 2003 to input Arabic records in dual script in OCLC. The serials staff became pioneers in creating CONSER records with data in non-Roman script for Arabic! Only institutions with OCLC Arabic software will be able to input, display, and further edit non-roman data. However, OCLC provides this downloadable software at no cost. One of the best features about the software is that it automatically creates the vernacular script from the romanized data.

Most of the procedures for creating the Arabic records have been developed by Hoda Fateen during the training in Cairo, and upon her return to LC she completed an appendix for the CONSER Editing Guide: Creating Records with Data in non-Roman Script for Arabic Serials. Appendix E will be included in the next update to the CONSER Editing Guide, and is now available on the CONSER Web site.

With CONSER procedures now available, other CONSER libraries are expected to begin adding Arabic vernacular script to CONSER records.

-- Hoda Fateen, Library of Congress

ISSN Standard Undergoes Five-Year Review

The international ISSN standard, ISO 3297, is currently undergoing its 5-year systematic review by ISO (International Standards Organization) members. The ISSN International Centre, as the registration authority for this standard, has recommended that the standard be revised. ISO voting members had until June 30 to vote to revise the standard. As of this writing, the results of the vote have not yet been made available, but according to Pat Harris, executive director of NISO (National Information Standards Organization, the U.S. information standards body), it is likely that the outcome will be in favor of a revision of the standard.

In order for NISO to obtain U.S. input to the review process, Priscilla Caplan, Chair of NISO's Standards Development Committee, posted a survey in April 2003 to various discussion lists soliciting input on such issues as whether the scope of the ISSN should be broadened to cover continuing resources; whether the ISSN should retain its current eight-digit format, and remain "dumb," that is, without meaningful information about country, publisher, or language; and whether the "current practice of assigning different ISSNs to online, CD-ROM and print versions only be continued." (A copy of the questionnaire can be accessed at the SERIALST archives, posting date: April 2, 2003).

Regina Reynolds, head of the National Serials Data Program (the U.S. ISSN center), gathered input on these and the other questions from stakeholders at the Library of Congress. Much of the LC discussion centered on questions relating to the current make-up of the ISSN and the current practice of assigning separate ISSN to the different formats of a serial. LC stakeholders found particular appeal in a base ISSN that would identify a serial's content, plus a suffix that would indicate the serial's physical format. Staff of the National Serials Data Program (NSDP) also favored this approach. Many publishers with whom NSDP deals are reluctant to have more than one ISSN assigned to resources that are available in multiple manifestations. Also, other ISSN users tell NSDP that one ISSN works better for connecting a single bibliographic record to the content of a particular resource regardless of the form the content takes. The LC consensus was that a base ISSN plus a medium suffix could result in a "best of both worlds" solution.

Reynolds also solicited informal input on the multiple ISSN issue at several serials-related meetings in the spring, including the meeting of the CONSER Operations Committee in May and at the annual NASIG (North American Serials Interest Group) meeting in June. All those who offered comments favored changing ISSN policy so that a single ISSN can represent a journal's content, with the possibility of a suffix to indicate the medium, where necessary.

If the vote to revise the international ISSN standard is positive, a working party will be formed by ISO. Any aspects of the standard will then be open for consideration in a process that can sometimes be lengthy, not just the multiple ISSN issue, or the other issues raised by the NISO survey. The Library of Congress has requested that if such a committee is formed, Regina Reynolds be a U.S. representative.

The current policy regarding multiple ISSN dates to the early 1980's when it was the subject of much discussion and debate within the ISSN Network. The decision made at that time was the result of very broad-based input favoring the assigning of multiple ISSN so that different formats could be identified. However, that decision is being questioned, as evidenced by the NISO survey and by an article, "The Role of the ISSN in the Electronic Linking Environment" by Marian Shemberg, a reference librarian at Ohio State University, which appears in the current issue of Serials Review (Volume 29, Issue 2, Summer 2003, pages 89-96, available online from Science Direct). In that same issue (pages 97-99), Regina Reynolds and Françoise Pellé, Director of the ISSN International Centre, react to Shemberg's article in a short article entitled, "Comments on 'The Role of the ISSN in the Electronic Linking Environment.'" In their article, Reynolds and Pellé present background on the decision to assign multiple ISSN, examine the current policy in light of today's online environment and the pending review of ISO 3297, and conclude that more input and a further examination of the issue is needed. Comments may be sent to Regina Reynolds at [email protected] or Françoise Pellé at [email protected]

-- Regina Reynolds, Library of Congress

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Electronic Serials Holdings Data Survey

To investigate how libraries manage their electronic serials holdings data and how they view the potential need for holdings and pattern data for electronic serials, the CONSER Publication Pattern Initiative established the Task Force to Explore the Needs and Uses for Holdings and Pattern Data for Electronic Journals in the winter of 2003. Yumin Jiang, University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Library, chairs the task group. The group conducted an informational survey through the CONSER web site in March 2003.

We received 155 responses to the survey, of which the majority are from academic libraries. About 50% of the libraries surveyed use a serials management company. About a third of the respondents record electronic serials holdings information in the bibliographic records, and about 40% of the respondents record that information in the holdings records. More than half of the libraries also maintain holdings data in a separate list outside their ILS. Most respondents reported that they use summary (Holdings Level 3) and open-ended holdings. About 20% of the respondents said they report their holdings of electronic serials to a union list.

About a third of the respondents believe that detailed check-in data would be useful for managing electronic serials. Potential uses include: better knowledge and control of the library's electronic resources, document delivery, archiving projects, and link resolvers. Although many respondents pointed out that the usefulness of publication pattern data depends on their ILS's capability to handle MARC holdings standard and the 891 fields in CONSER serials records.

Electronic serials are a relatively new type of resource for libraries. As they become more important in a library's collection and the need for integrated access grows, however, it may be only a matter of time before CONSER will have to re-examine the issue of detailed holdings data for electronic serials. Meanwhile, the group needs to continue to monitor the evolvement of electronic serials management practices in libraries, and to follow up on some specific examples of need for detailed holdings (e.g., LOCKSS) that emerged from both the group's initial investigation and this survey. Last but not least, library communities must continue the collaboration with ILS vendors and serials management companies to develop better holdings-related functionalities.

-- Yumin Jiang, University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Library System


Three men talking

From left, Dr. Felipe Martínez Arellano, Angel Villalba Roldán, and Joseph Hinger (St. John's University, NY)

Sue Fuller (University of Texas, Austin) and Jean Hirons (CONSER Coordinator) attended a four-hour session at the Transborder Library Forum, or "FORO" in College Station, Texas, March 30, 2003. The session was billed as "Serials at the FORO" and included four presentations and much informal discussion. Lisa Furubotten (Texas A&M) coordinated the meeting. Dr. Felipe Martínez Arellano, Director of the Centro Universitario de Investigaciones Bibliotecológicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), was the moderator.

The purpose of the meeting was to share information about cooperative serial activities in Mexico and in CONSER. Hirons, with the assistance of Fuller, gave a presentation on CONSER's history and how the program has grown and changed over its thirty years. Dr. Martinez spoke on SERIUNAM, a national union catalog of serials created by the National Library of Mexico, UNAM, that includes the holdings of 241 libraries in Mexico. It began in 1976 and thus, is as old as the CONSER database. It includes over 53,000 titles from around the world, uses ISSN, AACR and MARC 21.

Angel Villalba Roldán, Head of the Cataloging Dept. at the Hemeroteca Nacional de México (the National Serials Library) spoke about the collections of his institution. The cataloging department creates full records according to AACR2 and MARC 21.

The final presentation was given by Ana Laura Martínez Lastiri and Julia Margarita Martínez Saldaña from the Universidad Autonoma de San Luis Potosí. Using their own software, San Luis Potosí has developed the RESBIUC Serials Union Catalog that over 25 years has (or will soon have) expanded to include 35 universities from states all over Mexico. Participants have had NACO training and are interested in CONSER participation. They are using the SCCTP Holdings and Basic Serials Cataloging Workshops to train participants in serials cataloging and the recording of holdings.

Following the meeting, Dr. Martínez met with Hirons and Fuller to discuss SCCTP. A train-the-trainer session for Mexican catalogers was subsequently held in Puerto Vallarta, in conjunction with AMBAC, the annual meeting of the Mexican Library Association. Dr. Martínez has graciously agreed to coordinate SCCTP activities in Mexico.

-- Jean Hirons (LC)


Frieda Rosenberg wins the Bowker Award

Frieda RosenbergCongratulations to Frieda Rosenberg, Head of Serials Cataloging at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, for winning this year's Bowker/Ulrich's Serials Librarianship Award. Frieda earned the award for her many contributions to the advancement and understanding of serial holdings, particularly the MARC 21 Format for Holdings Data. Frieda has given numerous workshops and speeches on holdings, co-authored the SCCTP Serial Holdings Workshop, and was a founder of the CONSER Publication Pattern Initiative. Whenever there is a question on holdings, people turn to Frieda. So much so that she has become affectionately known as the "mother of holdings"! In addition to her involvement with the Publication Pattern Initiative, Frieda is a CONSER enhance member and an SCCTP trainer for the Basic, Advanced, and Electronic Serials Cataloging Workshops and, of course, the Serial Holdings workshop. When not discussing holdings, Frieda is a composer and fine pianist.

Congratulations are also due to Valerie Bross who was named 2003 Librarian of the Year by the Librarians Association of the University of California, Los Angeles. The award reads "As Serials Cataloger and Digital Resources Cataloging Coordinator for the Charles Young Research Library, Valerie has been a key player in helping to usher UCLA's library system into the digital age. Valerie's dedication to providing UCLA with the best serials and digital cataloging records possible has earned the highest respect of both her colleagues and patrons alike. The spirit of cooperation that pervades her attitude towards librarianship has helped foster a new collaboration between technical and public services at UCLA. Valerie's expertise has made her widely known in the cataloging field, particularly for her efforts on behalf of Library of Congress' International Cooperative Serials Cataloging Program." CONSER colleagues know Valerie for her leadership in the PURLS pilot, for leading the Integrating resources task force, and for her seemingly endless energy and good will.

Tom Champagne left the University of Michigan this spring to move to San Diego. Tom served as the operations representative from the University for many years. He is continuing to catalog electronic journals for the University from his home in California.

Hien Nguyen has returned to the Library of Congress from the National Library of Medicine. Pamela Simpson and Chad Abel-Kops have also returned to LC, to the National Serials Data Program Section, Pamela after working at Pennsylvania State University and teaching, and Chad after working at the National Library of Medicine. Other new serial catalogers in the Serial Record Division are: Rick Fitzgerald, Ana Kurland, Iliana Mitropolitsky, Kristie Muldrow, Diana Snigurowicz, and Soon Yang.

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