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The Library of Congress > Cataloging, Acquisitions > PCC > CONSER > CONSERline > No. 25, Fall 2004

No. 25, Fall 2004


From the Editor

Welcome to the Fall 2004 issue of CONSERline.

On March 18-19, 2004, 70 people (PDF, 114KB] met in Alexandria, Va. to share their experiences in serials related library work, commercial information services, and standards development. The CONSER Summit was developed by Jean Hirons, former CONSER Coordinator and Carlin Ruschoff, Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) Policy Committee Chair, to identify opportunities for collaboration, data sharing, and the most useful content of CONSER records for electronic resources. Panel discussions and facilitated breakout sessions resulted in specific recommendations for CONSER and the PCC.

Identification and fulfillment of user needs were persistent themes of the Summit and we recognized that users of library systems vary greatly in information seeking behavior and information needs. Researchers are interested in directly obtaining full text and it is not important to many of these users weather it is obtained through Google or through a library search tool. Librarians need to track resources at the title and summary holdings level and often make use of separate records for electronic and print versions. These records, in turn, are sometimes confusing to researchers. We were also reminded to consider the needs of future users: what metadata creation practices can we put into place now to assist long term preservation and access in the future?

Interoperability among systems was another theme. Mismatches in data contained in interacting systems such as OPACs, indexing tools, and link resolvers interfere with researchers obtaining full text. Robust resource identifiers at the title, version, and package levels are needed to make these systems work well together. As you will see below in the Actions on Recommendations, the ISSN revision process and cooperation between the ISSN Network and CONSER are important factors in working on this problem.

Jean Hirons, in her role as organizer and consultant for the Summit, prepared a summary and list of recommendations available from the Summit website. The Summit website also includes a list of attendee's, background information on selected topics, and a short bibliography. I am pleased to present the following personal impressions of the Summit from PCC members and an update on follow-up activities.

Personal Impressions

Cindy Hepfer
Head, Collection Management Services
Health Sciences University, University at Buffalo

For more than two decades, I have relied every workday on serial bibliographic records for collection development, acquisitions, and union listing. I also use them daily to answer user and staff questions. Because I rely on them so heavily, I have never taken serial bibliographic records for granted - I am very aware of how much time, effort, and thought goes into not just the creation and maintenance of the records themselves, but also into the rules, policies, and procedures that underlie the records.

I became a CONSER Enhance member in 1994 and will be beginning work at the Associate Level this year. Because I am not a trained cataloger, but a collection development-acquisitions-e-resources librarian who handles serials cataloging out of necessity, I have brought different points of view to the organization. For example, in 1997 when CONSER was discussing the potential removal of the 510 fields from the CONSER record, I objected and found myself chairing a CONSER A&I/ISSN Task Force. Likewise, I brought non-cataloging viewpoints to the Summit.

Many of the concepts I heard in Alexandria were not just encouraging, but downright exciting. While dealing with "legacy data" was a definite concern of those present, I really liked the concept of a serials record comprised of related packets of data. Three potential packets which I think hold great promise are an historical record, with full title and holdings/publication pattern data; an administrative metadata record, with up-to-date data or "administrivia" (i.e. not provided from the earliest issue in hand) that those of us doing acquisitions and e-resources work need; and a central vendor record. Imagine being able to widely share information about access and licensing terms, rather than having to create substantial amounts of data from scratch at each institution!

Standards permeated the Summit. We repeatedly discussed the need for an identifier to help provide easy, universal access to serial publications at a granular (article) level. Issues of display in ILS systems were also brought up frequently. In the end, the Summit Steering Committee was left with a list of recommendations. I fully expect to see CONSER begin to work more collaboratively than ever, to look into the potential for the creation and maintenance of various metadata packets, to look for opportunities to tie into research about user needs, and to revisit its own mission statement!

Wen-ying Lu
Catalog Librarian and Linguistics Bibliographer
Michigan State University

The CONSER Summit provided an excellent opportunity to share experiences and insights on electronic serials. The keynote conversation and the panel discussions touched on many factors pertinent to electronic journals, including: publishing, acquisitions, indexing/abstracting, aggregations, standardization, cataloging, administration, user needs, access, and archiving. The questions raised by the moderators and the Summit's steering committee generated balanced and inspiring discussion. It was very productive to have all attendees in the same room so that everyone was on the same page. Issues and questions raised were addressed by appropriate representatives from libraries or the serials industry, and proposals and responses were communicated immediately to all.

It was very encouraging to hear that publishers and vendors at the Summit were very willing to work with CONSER to be more responsive to the needs of libraries. The Summit participants agreed that collaboration and compliance to standards are key to minimizing potential problems associated with electronic serials. In the electronic age, serials catalogers need to work with various library communities and all sectors of the serials industry to ensure efficient and effective access and management methods. Some recommendations from the Summit's participants reinforce the need for CONSER to take an expanded leadership role in collaborating with various organizations pertinent to serials in general, and electronic serials in particular. Developing standards collaboratively across the library community and the serials industry is also essential in easing standard compliance and system interoperability.

Information and ideas shared at the Summit were very useful not only for serials catalogers but also for people responsible for collection management and public/reference services. As a cataloger and a selector who also provides reference services, I greatly appreciated the fact that the Summit presented an integrated, holistic perspective on electronic serials. I have shared with colleagues in my library information on publishing trends, user's needs, OAI, Open URL, and options to improve the usefulness of serial bibliographic records. I have also encouraged the administration in my library to continue our participation in the LOCKSS project (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Save). It was my privilege to participate in the CONSER Summit. It has broadened my perspective on electronic serials and inspired me to continue to participate in the discussion of serials-related topics and to collaborate with vendors as much as I can. Together we can make a difference for the users in providing simpler and clearer access to electronic serials.

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Roxanne Sellberg
Assistant University Librarian for Technical Services
Northwestern University Library

Because I am not a serials specialist I was especially honored and challenged by the opportunity to attend the recent CONSER Summit. In spite of the helpful background readings, I was a little afraid that I would't be able to participate in--or even follow--the discussions. As it turned out, however, the range of experts invited was very broad, and the group discouraged jargon and highly detailed technical talk. Some of the issues were completely new to me, but they were presented in a way that was understandable and meaningful. I was interested from two distinct points of view: as an academic library administrator and as a member of the PCC Policy Committee.

As an academic library administrator, I was fascinated by the opening, keynote conversation that focused on changes in scholarly communication and information consumption patterns. The phrases "collapse of inconvenience," "new generation of Web search engines," and "I love the library, because I never have to go there" were compelling to me, peppering my conversation in the weeks since the Summit. I really started to understand how the information repository concept might evolve in a partly commercial, partly open access environment. Over the two days I became pretty well convinced that the scholarly journal as we currently know it does not have a long life ahead of it. However, there will be life after--for publishers and vendors and libraries. The Summit conversations also sparked my interest in automated electronic resource management systems and got me thinking about strategies for developing existing library staff for future electronic resource management work.

From the point of view of a PCC leader, I was concerned that the conference proceeded smoothly and was worthwhile for the participants. On that score I need not have worried: the planning committee did excellent work, and participants were cheerfully tossing ideas back and forth at a mutually stimulating pace. I was also concerned about what these ideas implied about the future of the CONSER program. In my mind the overall message from the two days was clear: If we choose to do so the PCC can play an important ongoing role, not only in helping libraries to make sense of the changes taking place in the serials world, but also in facilitating communication and coordination among the disparate stakeholders in that world. Whether we wish to take up that challenge, and how doing so might relate to the CONSER program's continuing work of maintaining an international cooperative database of serials information, are questions meriting careful consideration in the weeks and months ahead.

Action on Recommendations

Two recommendations from the Summit focus on CONSER and the ISSN:

  • CONSER should provide input on the ISSN standard revision process
  • CONSER should work to improve the usefulness of ISSN that are recorded in the CONSER database.

Regina Reynolds, head of the National Serials Data Program (NSDP), is working with CONSER members to gather input on the ISSN revision process and ideas for improving ISSN accuracy in the CONSER database. Regina is a member of the ISO working group leading the review of the ISSN standard and was awarded the 2004 Marcia Tuttle International Grant to draft wording for the revised ISSN standard. Regina's membership on the ISO working group and the NISO/EDItEUR Joint Working Party on the Exchange of Serials Subscription Information (JWP (external link)), gives her a good perspective on the wide range of needs associated with the ISSN. Regina has conducted surveys and addressed many audiences including those at NASIG, the CONSER Operations meeting, and ALA to gather input for the ISSN revision and the need for accurate ISSN data.

Ideas for increasing accuracy of ISSN in CONSER records include the possibility of providing wider access to ISSN assignments. If basic ISSN data were easily available to CONSER catalogers, it could be accurately transcribed onto CONSER records. The CONSER office surveyed its membership on behalf of the ISSN Network on the type of access needed to verify ISSN. Maureen Landry, chief of the Serial Record Division LC, is consulting with the Cataloging Distribution Service and the ISSN Network on possibilities for sharing data.

Other Summit recommendations were discussed at the CONSER Operations meeting in May and resulted in the formation of task groups to explore issues within CONSER. Valerie Bross (University of California, Los Angeles) presented a proposal to include digital object identifiers (DOI) on CONSER records, which include a title level ISSN as a DOI suffix. The proposal addresses the Summit recommendation to find ways of accommodating OpenURL on CONSER records. It offers the opportunity for CONSER to examine its existing policies on URLs on CONSER records and to enhance persistence in URLs for commercial resources. This effort will require coordination with the ISSN revision efforts and CrossRef, one of the DOI registration agencies that provide a mechanism for DOI resolution.

The CONSER Operations meeting also resulted in a task group to explore the recommendation that CONSER expand its coverage of e-serials within the database. The group will look at existing coverage in the CONSER database and consider ways to coordinate the creation of records for titles in particular packages. In a related discussion at the operations meeting, Adolfo Tarango (UCSD) demonstrated a macro developed by Robert Bremer (OCLC) as part of the work of the 3rd Task Group on Journals in Aggregator Databases.The macro will be made available to CONSER members to assist in the creation of e-serial records for titles in packages based on existing print version records. The task group completed its work in August and the macro will provide a valuable tool for adding records for e-serials to the CONSER database.

Lucy Barron (LC) proposed new procedures for updating pre-AACR2 records and records from non-AACR2 cataloging sources at the operations meeting. The proposal is a result of a Summit recommendation to monitor the success of the aggregator-neutral record and explore ways to accommodate non-AACR2 cataloging in the CONSER database. A CONSER task group has been formed to examine existing CONSER guidelines on updating pre-AACR2 records and to consider the application of this proposal to other types of non-AACR2 records, such as catalog records created in countries that do not use AACR2.

Members of the CONSER Publication Patterns Initiative also attended the Summit and have been working on Summit related recommendations. The Publication History Task Group has been considering a display model that would tie different types of records for a serial together, including holdings records and multiple bibliographic records for online and print versions to provide a more meaningful display for users. Members of the task group illustrated the idea for this "super record" at two ALA annual meeting venues. Diane (Cornell), chair of the task group, presented the idea at the Serials Standards Updates Forum and Frieda Rosenberg (University of North Carolina) gave a presentation at the MARC Formats Interest Group Meeting. Linda Miller (LC) is working on a standards compliance survey that will be a basis for a meeting at ALA Mid-winter 2005 to discuss standards compliance and interoperability with vendors. Linda has also joined the Serials Release Notification (SRN) sub-group of the JWP. The SRN is a format intended to support the exchange of information about item availability at the issue and article levels. Linda's involvement with the group allows her to contribute her knowledge from her library systems background and experience with the MARC21 Holdings Format. It also helps establish a connection between CONSER efforts and the work of other serials standards organizations, another of the recommendations from the Summit. The Publication Patterns Initiative has proposed a new task force at its ALA annual meeting, the Standards Interoperability Task Force to monitor and provide liaison with other standards groups.

The PCC Policy Committee will be looking at other recommendations from the Summit this fall at its annual meeting in November.

-- Les Hawkins, CONSER Coordinator, Library of Congress

Article and Presentations

NASIG Conference 2004 Poster Session presented by Hien Nguyen [No longer available online 12/08/2006]

Forthcoming article: The Serials Librarian (external link) "The CONSER Summit : addressing user and library needs for the electronic 21st century" by Hien Nguyen and Lucy Barron

Les Hawkins and Cindy Hepfer discuss the Summit in the columns Electronic Journals Forum and Serials Spoken Here in the forthcoming Volume 30, Issue 3 (Sept. 2004) of Serials Review.

-- Les Hawkins, CONSER Coordinator, Library of Congress

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