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The Library of Congress > Cataloging, Acquisitions > PCC > CONSER > CONSERline > No. 24, Winter 2004

No. 24, Winter 2004


From the Editor

Welcome to the Winter 2004 issue of CONSERline.

What an exciting time to have become CONSER Coordinator! The upcoming CONSER Summit will provide an opportunity to assess CONSER's future direction in the control of electronic resources. The Task Force on Journals in Aggregations will soon begin experimenting with a macro for generating e-serial records to help expand coverage of e-serials in the database. A task group of the Publication Patterns Initiative has been refining its vision of a shared publication history record. The FRBR Task Force is beginning to make links with other groups working along similar paths. CONSER is restructuring its membership requirements for the Enhance and Associate levels in the hope of expanding record contributions. This issue of CONSERline contains short articles on these topics and news about CONSER members and friends.

-- Les Hawkins, CONSER Coordinator, Library of Congress


The CONSER Summit on Serials in the Digital Environment will take place March 18th-19th, 2004 with the participation of 70 invited attendees. Attendees represent all aspects of the serials industry and library service areas.

The idea for the Summit is based on CONSER involvement with electronic serials and the prominence of new developments in the control and delivery of electronic resources. CONSER has been working on defining useful cataloging practices for electronic serials in the past few years and making decisions about the type of data needed in catalog records. The CONSER Publication Patterns Initiative has been exploring the need for holdings and patterns data in controlling electronic resources. At the same time, ILS systems, serial management companies, abstracting and indexing companies, and aggregators have developed systems for delivering and controlling electronic content and these systems are configured with on data about the resources. New standards for OpenURL, ONIX for serials, and metasearch have appeared or are under development and contain data specifications that overlap to varying degrees, bibliographic standards used by CONSER. What is the role of CONSER as an organization, the CONSER record, and shared database in this environment?

The Summit program will include panel discussions and facilitated breakout sessions that will result in recommendations for CONSER's future direction. Discussions will focus on the needs of users in identifying, selecting, and obtaining electronic serials at the journal, issue, and article levels. Summit attendees will look at data needed by libraries and others to sustain the business practices of providing access to serials (acquiring, licensing, paying, auditing, rights management, archiving). Recommendations from the Summit will be used for shaping the content of the CONSER record, evaluating the usefulness of its database, and direct CONSER's involvement with evolving standards and technological developments. Summit recommendations will be incorporated into CONSER's action plan and implemented by the CONSER Operations Committee.

Keynote speakers are Sandy Hurd, Director of Sales, Digital Solutions, Innovative Interfaces, Inc. and Brian Schottlaender, University Librarian at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Planning for the Summit included the gathering of background information from participants with a pre-conference survey and the preparation of short summaries of areas such as standards and technological developments. Information is available from the Summit Web site.

-- Les Hawkins (LC)

Task Force on Journals in Aggregations

During ALA's midwinter conference, members of the Third Task Group on Journals in Aggregator Databases met, their chief order of business being a review of the results of a CatME macro developed for them by Robert Bremer of OCLC. The macro is designed to retain, add, or modify select fields in an existing bibliographic record to create a new, aggregator neutral record for the online version. Generally, the Task Group found that the macro worked very well. Some refinements were suggested and appropriate coding of the records, to clearly indicate level of authenticity and quality of description, was determined. Robert Bremer is currently revising the macro based on this feedback, and once finished members of the Task Group will test the macro again. Once refined for production use, Task Group members will test the record creation process using titles from Ingenta. Results will be reported at the CONSER Ops meeting in May, and if sufficient progress has been made, a recommended plan of action will be submitted for consideration.

-- Adolfo Tarango (USCD)

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Publication History

The notion of Publication History (formerly called "Universal Holdings") as a useful concept for the serials community grew out of discussions of the CONSER Publication Patterns Task Force during ALA Annual in June 2001. Prior to that time, shareable publication patterns were seen primarily as a method for providing prediction data for serials control systems.

The first definition read: "A [Publication History] Data Record includes the complete pattern and published holdings of a particular title. It does not reflect the holdings of a particular library, but does express an 'ideal' complete run or set of a particular bibliographic entity." This information, potentially analogous to the bibliographic record (which describes the title as a whole, regardless of where local holdings might begin) contains detail that can be re-used in a library setting in a variety of ways. Creation and maintenance strategies for Publication History information parallel those for bibliographic information, and a pilot project has been underway within the CONSER database for over two years.

Use cases in development by the CONSER Task Force to Explore the Use of a Universal Holdings Record, explore the relevance of Publication History information for inventory, interlibrary loan, management of back files in repository settings, preservation planning, archiving and other situations where the more limited idea of "library holdings" is insufficiently broad.

Recent discussions by the Task Force have centered on the use of Publication History as a part of a FRBR-based strategy to manage relationships between electronic, print and archival versions of titles as well as title changes. The centerpiece of this strategy is the idea of the "super-record," which corresponds to some extent with the Work level, although with somewhat different functions. "Super-records" would manage the various relationships between versions and titles over time, and serve as the place where Publication History is linked to the body of bibliographic records representing the life of a title.

Although this idea is newly articulated, it contains the seeds of a reasonable, relatively low impact solution to problems with management of serials in the electronic age. The Task Force is currently working on a discussion paper on "super-records" which will be distributed prior to the Summit.

For further information, see the Task Force's documents, available at: (external link)

-- Diane I. Hillmann, Cornell University, CONSER Task Force to Explore the Use of a Universal Holdings Record


Report from ALA Mid-Winter

The group will soon be sending comments and suggestions to the IFLA Working Group on FRBR chaired by Patrick LeBoeuf. The Task Force has also begun discussing the recently-released "Final draft statement of International Cataloging Principles,"that specifically mentions both FRBR and FRAR (Functional Requirements of Authority Records).

The CONSER FRBR Task Force has formed relationships with several Working Groups and Task Forces working in parallel and related directions. One of these is the Joint Steering Committee's Format Variation Working Group. This group has two primary efforts currently: 1) rule revisions for AACR Chapter 25; and, 2) deconstructing the GMD [General Material Designation] and the Mode of Expression. The FVWG has submitted a first group of rule revision proposals for Chapter 25. CC:DA will be considering these soon and forwarding the ALA recommendation to the Joint Steering Committee.

Two members of the CONSER FRBR TF (Regina Reynolds and Judy Kuhagen) are also members of a recently-formed IFLA Working Group on FRBR and Continuing Resources so we will be monitoring the work of that group closely. The IFLA Working Group has two charges: 1) to provide comments on the FRBR model; and, 2) to provide input to the ISSN Revision Working Group.

Because of areas of overlap within our charges and areas of interest, the CONSER FRBR TF also needs to develop stronger relationships with the CONSER Linking Entry Task Force chaired by Mecheal Charbonneau, and the work on Universal Holdings Data [now known as Publication History] conducted by Frieda Rosenberg and Diane Hillmann.

In a FRBR-related note, Jennifer Bowen reported on the final report of the CC:DA Task Force on Rule 21.0D at the Monday morning meeting of CC:DA at ALA Midwinter. The recommendation of the Task Force was that catalogers provide a more rigorous and systematic use of relator codes within bibliographic records. Such a practice will dramatically enhance the display of relationships among FRBR entities within library catalogs.
CC:DA approved the recommendation and will be forwarding this decision to the Joint Steering Committee.

-- Everett Allgood (New York University)


The change in membership structure for the Enhance and Associate levels was approved in November 2003 and is being implemented after having been formally announced at the CONSER At-large meeting at ALA Midwinter 2004.

Current Enhance members are being moved to the Associate level. Once all the preparations are in place, these members will begin authenticating records for the titles they create or adapt in addition to continuing with maintenance of records. The new requirement for the Associate level is a minimum of 100 records per year that may include first time authentications, subsequent authentications or maintenance transactions.

With this change, the only Enhance members now are those in the Publication Patterns Initiative, though several other institutions have already inquired about becoming new CONSER members. They have been asked to withhold their applications until the current membership change has been fully implemented. CONSER is also revising its structure for OCLC funding to the annual CONSER Operations meetings for Associate members.

The following article is a profile of one of the new Associate members, the Health Science Library System of the University of Pittsburgh.

-- Hien Nguyen (LC)

Health Sciences Library System

The Health Sciences Library System (HSLS) (external link) provides library services to the six schools of the health sciences at the University of Pittsburgh and to the hospitals, clinicians and patients of the UPMC|University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, a network of hospitals in Western Pennsylvania and abroad. It comprises Falk Library of the Health Sciences, The Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic library, and professional/consumer health libraries at UPMC Shadyside and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. HSLS' serials collections reflect the diverse nature of our user population, and our CONSER activity likely will also. HSLS' will contribute records for clinical titles in print or electronic format that are not widely held in general academic settings.

Since 1998 HSLS has been committed to building a body of cataloging records for electronic resources in the Health Sciences, and using that data in innovative ways to support user needs. As information systems in the health sciences become increasingly integrated, strong data sets are essential for reliable links between clinical information and scholarly resources. HSLS' CONSER contributions will support the efforts of biomedical libraries to provide effective serials management and access, in both the print and electronic arenas.

-- Deb Silverman (Health Sciences Library System, University of Pittsburgh)

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Cataloger's Desktop Coming to the Web

The Cataloging Distribution Service (CDS) of the Library of Congress (LC) is pleased to announce that its flagship cataloging documentation tool, Cataloger's Desktop, is moving to the Web. Cataloger's Desktop provides access to the most widely used cataloging documentation resources in an integrated online system. Desktop is currently distributed only on CD-ROM.

Beta testing of a Web version of Cataloger's Desktop will begin on March 1, 2004. The Web version will employ nxtTM 4, an open source, XML-based content delivery system. CDS chose nxtTM 4 because it is one of the few standards-based software packages on the market that also supports Unicode. According to Bruce Johnson, Cataloger's Desktop Development Team Leader, "Librarians expect the Library of Congress to be in the forefront of content standards application, and the Web version of Desktop will give LC an important opportunity to demonstrate how an XML content delivery system makes it possible to provide documentation resources more specifically tailored to the needs of individual catalogers."

Catalogers are encouraged to use the beta product from March 1 to April 30, 2004. "CDS will provide the Web version of Cataloger's Desktop at no cost during the beta test," said Johnson. "We are looking forward to user feedback to help us fine-tune it before its scheduled launch as a fee-for-service product at ALA Annual in June."

"As Web-based cataloging capabilities mature," said Kathryn Mendenhall, Cataloging Distribution Service Chief, "CDS continues in the forefront of product development with the introduction of a Web version of Cataloger's Desktop. We expect to collect valuable feedback from users during the beta test," she continued, "and we encourage users to report back to us in detail about their experiences with the beta version."

Current users of Cataloger's Desktop should note that CDS will continue producing the CD-ROM version for as long as there is significant interest. However, when the fee-for-service Web version becomes available in June 2004, subscribers will be able to transfer their subscriptions, if they like, from the CD-ROM product to the Web. Annual subscription prices will be announced as the product nears completion in late spring.

For up-to-date announcements about the Web version of Cataloger's Desktop, visit

-- Peter Seligman, CDS, (202) 707-1314, [email protected]


Kathleen Dougherty, Head of the Serials Cataloging Section at the National Agricultural Library (NAL) retired on January 9, 2004 after 38 years of government service, all of it with the Agricultural Research Service, and the last 20 years with NAL. Mike Easman, Head, Cataloging Branch and Acting Head, Indexing Branch, National Agricultural Library is acting as NAL's CONSER coordinator.

Kathleen was raised in the Maryland suburbs outside of Washington. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland and began her career in 1965 as a research assistant in the Insect Pathology Laboratory working with Dr. Spiro Louloudes. She worked on research problems associated with insect viruses, insect cell culture and Bacillus thuringiensis.

In 1979, she became a technical information specialist with the Current Research Information System (CRIS). She indexed research projects for the CRIS database and provided search services for information in CRIS and related databases to scientists in participating institutions.

In 1983, Kathleen began working at the National Agricultural Library as a serials cataloger. In 1991, she became Head of the Serials Cataloging Section and CONSER coordinator. Kathleen demanded high quality serials cataloging records from her staff, and had a unique ability to resolve serials cataloging problems.

Kathleen was especially valued at NAL for her role in the implementation of two online catalogs. Her ability to understand the functionalities of the complex software underlying online catalogs made her an invaluable resource to both NAL staff and management. She was the Technical Services Division system coordinator for the first implementation in the late 1980s and played a major role in the implementation of NAL's new library management system launched prior to her retirement.

-- Michael Esman, Head, Cataloging Branch and Acting Head, Indexing Branch, National Agricultural Library

Gene Dickerson, formerly Head of the Bibliographic Control Unit, Serial Records Section is now Head of Cataloging Unit 3, Cataloging Section, as of July 1, 2003. (This is actually the same unit, with the addition of a cataloger. The entire unit was transferred from the Serial Records Section to the Cataloging Section and given a new title.) Christa Hoffmann, Head, Cataloging Section, left her position as Head, Cataloging Section, as of December 31, 2003. She is on special assignment and will retire from NLM as of February 27, 2004. Duane Arenales, Chief, Technical Services Division, is also retiring. She will be leaving NLM as of April 2, 2004.

-- Gene Dickerson, NLM

Malgorzata (Gosia) Fort, Ph.D. is the new CONSER representative from the Health Sciences Library System, University of Pittsburgh, replacing Yumin Jiang, who has relocated to Boulder, CO in Oct. 2003. Yumin is now Technical Services Librarian at the University of Colorado School of Law. Welcome, Gosia! Best wishes, Yumin!

Adolfo R. Tarango, Head of Serials Cataloging at University of California, San Diego Libraries has replaced Becky Culbertson as UCSD CONSER Operation representative. The move was made after UCSD decided to become an Associate level member. Welcome Adolfo! Becky has long been a major contributor to CONSER e-serial cataloging efforts and we look forward to her continued contributions of e-serial expertise and creative thinking.

The artist formerly known as CONSER Coordinator, Jean Hirons, is the featured artist of the month for February 2004 at the Creative Partners Gallery in Bethesda, MD. The reception for this pastel landscapes solo show, titled "New Beginnings", was very well attended by loyal Hirons fans as well as new "patrons". Look for Jean's artwork on the cover of this year's issues of the Serials Librarian.

-- Hien Nguyen, LC

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