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The Library of Congress > Cataloging, Acquisitions > PCC > CONSER > CONSERline > No. 28, Spring 2006

No. 28, Spring 2006


From the Editor

Welcome to the Spring 2006 issue of CONSERline.

Just before the CONSER/BIBCO operations committee meeting in April and the NASIG meeting in May, the Library of Congress (LC) Library Services Directorate announced that effective June 1, 2006, it will no longer create or maintain series authority records. At this time, it is uncertain what the full impact will be on libraries and cooperative cataloging programs such as the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC). Many librarians are weighing in on the value of controlled series to users, others have suggested that we need to reconsider our practices to focus on access to the growing number of electronic and other collections. The quality of services we provide to various categories of users is receiving close attention and this is a good thing. Combined with the discussions at NASIG and the operations meetings, the series decision has made me think that we serials specialists have opportunities to focus more than ever on contributing our skills, knowledge, and efforts toward user-centered access to our collections.

An interesting program at NASIG involved defining library users and their needs. Lynn Silipigini Connoway (OCLC) presented research that focused on different categories of users, undergraduate, graduate students, and faculty staff researchers. These populations vary in information seeking behaviors, and the degree to which they rely on library resources. More experienced researchers use library resources at least at some stage of information seeking. Undergraduate students are less aware of the library and its resources and tend to choose Google as a first strategy. All choose the path of least resistance that fits their information seeking style. Even for experienced researchers, Google is an important place to start to gain an overview of a topic, find definitions and key words that can be used for consulting resources provided by the library and colleagues. Undergraduates frequently found library resources confusing and were sometimes uncertain if databases offered by the library were part of the library, so library interfaces need to better integrate and brand resource discovery/delivery tools.

On the same program at NASIG and at a presentation during the CONSER/BIBCO Operations meeting, Regina Reynolds (LC) gave an update on the revision of the ISSN standard and explained the concept of the "linking ISSN" (ISSN-L). ISSN-L is a new name for what has most recently been called the Medium-Neutral ISSN. In the context of enhancing services to our users, it provides a way to support OpenURL services and interoperability with other identifiers, DOI, URN, etc. The ISSN-L is a function or mechanism for providing a collocating ISSN to link among different media versions of a continuing resource. To enable ISSN-L to function as intended, the ISSN Network is exploring the development of look-up and distribution services so that OpenURL knowledge bases, utilities, and other databases can be populated with current and correct ISSN, ISSN-L, and ISSN relationship information.

One prevalent theme at NASIG was that libraries have access to multiple tools to describe e-resources, the OPAC and the knowledge bases running behind MARC record services, A-Z lists, ERM systems, and link resolvers. These systems are not entirely integrated and sometimes get out of synch. Many librarians are looking for the one primary place to record data about resources. Some librarians have been able to use one system to update another to stay in synch, others have just chosen one over the other, e.g. A-Z lists over OPACS or vice versa, as the primary delivery mechanism for e-resources. I think it became clear to us all that librarians and vendors need to collaborate on ideas for increasing interoperability and compliance with standards.

At the CONSER/BIBCO Operations meeting, CONSER members discussed methods to enhance user displays with current title and publisher information. While these approaches are focused on using available MARC21 fields, working with vendors and developers of systems will be a vital part of efforts to improve user displays.

Several developers have begun to incorporate methods to enhance searching and improve display results (1). Some of these make use of clustered results and taxonomies based on library or user contributed subject tags to allow the user to narrow results. The Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) are also being employed to enhance search results. Working with a mix of MARC and non-MARC records, some systems can search across library databases and institutional repositories, widening and integrating the resources available to users in a single search. The widening of access to institutional resources and the ability to narrow search results is an improvement over the first page of Google search results that many users rely on.

Our opportunities as serials specialists include working with developers of new systems to make use of FRBR for accurately displaying serial "families" of related serials and formats. The very thought provoking program on serials and FRBR at NASIG provided many ideas on how FRBR can be used to think through relationships between serials and displaying them to users, but more work is needed with its application to serials in evolving systems.

Regina Reynolds (LC) and Diane Boher (NLM) are co-chairs of the PCC group that developed basic record requirements for a serial in any format using FRBR user tasks. As part of the access level record for serials project, the group developed cataloging guidelines aimed at reducing redundancies, making fuller use of system-display capabilities, and providing for the possibility of vendor or publisher supplied data being added to records at a later time. A pilot study was conducted involving 13 institutions to compare records created at the access level with those created at a fuller level.

Public services and reference staff evaluated how well the records served end user needs and a cost comparison was done. The final report should be available in June, but overall the evaluation of these records was that they met user needs in most instances and there were savings in time spent on cataloging. The project has been important for attempting to measure users needs against the content of our records. It has also been a collaborative effort, involving public services, acquisitions and cataloging staff from many institutions. More details on the project are provided in a separate article in this issue of CONSERline.

I think there are many other areas that provide opportunities for collaboration and refining our services to users. But I’ll close now with a consideration of series statements and access points. At the CONSER/BIBCO Operations meeting, representatives made a motion to ask the PCC leadership to begin a process for evaluating user needs for series statements in our records and simplify practices and documentation surrounding them (2). I think the idea is a positive reaction and look forward to the collaboration and input from PCC members, other libraries, and the vendor community in that process.

1. For example:

2. Recommendations from the CONSER/BIBCO Operations meeting are available from the summary:

-- Les Hawkins, CONSER Coordinator, Library of Congress

Links to Series Documentation

Access Level Record for Serials

The Access Level Record for Serials pilot began in February, just five months after co-chairs Regina Reynolds (LC) and Diane Boehr (NLM) held the first meeting with its working group members. The working group and pilot study volunteers collaborated on preparing for the training phase and to finalize the element set and cataloging guidelines. The pilot phase followed with record creation, review, and data input once the set of test records were selected. Pilot study volunteers included teams made up of cataloging, reference, and acquisitions staff from 13 different libraries. An Access Level Record Review Survey was designed by Peter McCracken (Serials Solutions) to collect input from reference and public service staff on any impact the access level records might have on the end user’s ability to find, identify, select, and obtain access to the resource.

In describing results from the group's preliminary report at the CONSER operations meeting, Regina Reynolds noted that there were differing views from reference staff on the evaluation of the access level records. Some clearly embraced the advantages of the pared down record which gave most users an uncluttered view of the data. Another reviewer, recognizing that while the access level record would work "in 99 out of 100 reference transactions" prefers a record with as much detail as possible.

There were significant savings of nearly 20% in the time it takes to create the access level record compared to control records. The sample used for analysis included mostly original records with some copy. Catalogers did not remove data from cataloging copy. A learning curve was identified and it’s expected that more time and costs savings will be realized as catalogers become used to the cataloging guidelines.

Further background on the project can be found on the Access Level Record for Serials Pilot Project web page. The summary of the CONSER Operations meeting gives details of a preliminary report: The final report will be presented to groups at ALA annual and to the PCC Policy Committee for approval as the base level CONSER standard for record creation.

-- Hien Nguyen (LC)

Serials Cataloging Cooperative Training Program (SCCTP)

Four SCCTP trainers attended the online course "Teaching Courses in a Live Online Environment" taught by Christine Peterson, Continuing Education Librarian of Amigos Library Services, throughout the month of February. The trainers were introduced to Centra, a Web-based application that supports real-time online communication in a "virtual classroom" setting, learned its interactive functions, and identified ways to incorporate interactivity into their individual practice sessions of live online SCCTP courses. The trainers also learned to use Moodle, an open source course management system, to build class agenda, develop homework assignments, and handle other classroom technicalities such as the registration process and classroom communications. Though specific Web tools were used in this course, the techniques to effectively lead a synchronous classroom and to convert course materials from existing face-to-face workshops acquired are generic to all online learning systems. SCCTP plans to begin converting the PowerPoint presentation material for the Basic Serials workshop in late summer 2006 while continuing to investigate other Web teaching interfaces. Sincere thanks are due to Laura Kimberly, Amigos’ Continuing Education Services Manager and a member of PCC SCT Task Group on Online Training, for making the training possible.

The SCCTP Integrating Resources Cataloging Workshop has been converted for online learning by the workshop's original creator, Steven J. Miller, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries and School of Information Studies and with content redesigned and supplemented by Lisa Furubotten, Texas A&M University. Many thanks to Steven and Lisa for making the project possible. Steven reports that the first online workshop hosted by his institution May 1-19th 2006 was a big success according to the evaluations and online survey he conducted. Steven had 16 enrollees, "… from all over the U.S. and from England, New Zealand, and Lebanon. Needless to say, the librarians in New Zealand and Lebanon were especially grateful to have had the opportunity to take an SCCTP workshop, which they could not have gotten except online."

-- Hien Nguyen (LC)

Publication Patterns News

The Publication Patterns Initiative met at ALA mid-winter and received an update on the ONIX for Serials formats from Linda Miller (LC). Linda described several pilot projects that are taking place involving vendors and publishers. Meeting participants emphasized the importance of increasing the involvement of publishers in ONIX for Serials tests and concluded that the timing is right to form a publisher advisory group for the Initiative.

In early May, the NISO/EDItEUR Joint Working Party for the Exchange of Serials Subscription Information announced the availability of updated pilot versions of the ONIX for Serials Serials Release Notification (SRN) and Serials Products and Subscriptions (SPS) formats. An XML schema and a prose overview for these formats are available on the EDItEUR website at (external link). Linda Miller and Katharina Klemperer have published an article in Serials Review, "What is ONIX for Serials? What Potential Does it Have For the Serials Workflow?," vol 32, no 1 (Mar. 2006). The article emphasizes that publishers, "middle" agents, and librarians can make many gains by piloting and adopting the ONIX for serials formats as soon as they appear in final forms.

-- Les Hawkins (LC)

CONSER Documentation

The CONSER Editing Guide (CEG) update 16 was completed in Dec. 2005 and distributed in February 2006. Special thanks to Carroll Davis, Judy Kuhagen, and John Levy of LC who helped review the final draft. The CEG is a living, working document that benefits from ongoing review and updating by numerous practitioners in the field. Thanks for all your contributions. The Cataloging Distribution Service (CDS) plans in the future to provide free PDF updates to the CEG and CCM downloadable from the CDS Web site, CDS will post updated information about accessing the PDF versions as they become available. Standing order of the hard copy will still be available for purchase.

-- Hien Nguyen (LC)

Membership News

Connecticut State Library (CSL) was declared an independent Associate level CONSER member in January. CONSER trainer Rick Fitzgerald (LC) reported that CSL's cataloger, Glynis M. Georgie, entered the training and review period with a high level of serials cataloging skill and has now attained a very firm understanding of CONSER policies and practices. Congratulations to Glynis and CSL for reaching independence status. Many thanks to Rick for the training and review he provided CSL in the process.

Congratulations to New York University Law Library who has become an independent Associate level CONSER member in March. Thanks also to Foster Reding (LC) for providing the law library staff very good training and review. George Prager, NYU Law Library Head of Cataloging, is the operations representative. NYU Law Library also plans to participate in the Serials Holdings Project in the future.

Saint Louis University Pius XII Memorial Library was welcomed as a new Associate level library in February. Shana L. McDanold, Pius Assistant Professor and Serials and Non-Print Formats Cataloger, is the representative and attended the CONSER Operations Meeting. Pius XII Memorial Library is the general academic library of Saint Louis University. The University also supports the Law Library (CONSER Associate Level member since 1996) and the Health Sciences Center Library. CONSER training and review is being provided by Margaret Smith, Saint Louis University Law Library CONSER representative.

I am happy to announce that Serials Solutions is the newest affiliate level CONSER member. It has been several years now since we’ve had a new member in this category. In applying for CONSER membership, Peter McCracken, Director of Electronic Content Management at Serials Solutions mentioned his eagerness to contribute to the greater good of the library community through error detection techniques used to process the CONSER file (distributed by the Library of Congress Cataloging Distribution Service as the MDS-serials subscription product). In linking bibliographic records with metadata from electronic resource vendors, Serials Solutions has been able to detect record control number errors in linking fields and identify other issues that require attention in CONSER records. In the past, Peter has reported these errors to the CONSER office for correction; now as a CONSER member Serials Solutions can make corrections directly in OCLC.

Last fall, Peter participated in the CONSER/PCC Access Level Record for Serials project working group. Peter was invited to participate from the perspective of a CONSER file subscriber and made significant contributions in the data collection phase of the project.

The training plan for Serials Solutions involves three phases, beginning with corrections to record control numbers in linking fields and progressing to work that requires more verification and cataloging experience. John Levy (LC) has begun working with Serials Solutions catalogers, Amanda Louie and Kara Hyde, for the first phase of training. Amanda and Kara also attended the CONSER operations meeting held April 27th and 28th, 2006 at the Library of Congress.

A later phase of training will include adding other enhancements to CONSER records. As a subscriber to the ISSN Portal, Serials Solutions is in a good position to transcribe ISSN data for non-US/non-Canada serials on appropriate CONSER records. The US and Canadian ISSN centers both contribute records directly to the CONSER file, so being able to verify ISSN data for records that are not covered by these two centers will be a valuable enhancement. Staff in NSDP, the US ISSN Center, will handle training for this phase.

An open-ended phase is envisioned that will allow Serials Solutions catalogers to make other changes to records, including those that require more precise verification and other record enhancements, based on data supplied by Serials Solutions.

A proposal submitted by a group of University of California (UC) campuses to form a CONSER Funnel Project in December 2005 has been approved. The PCC Steering Committee members see this as an exciting opportunity, very much in line with PCC strategic goals for membership, and were very happy to support it. Assisted by UCLA (CONSER Full Level member since 1980) and UCSD (CONSER Associate member since 1996) the UC CONSER Funnel will offer interested UC campuses several levels of participation. A basic organizational structure is being established which will designate a UC CONSER Funnel Coordinator, a steering committee, and a campus liaison for each participating campus. UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and UC Irvine will participate in the first phase of the Funnel with others to join in the next phase. Training, mentoring, and a review process to certify new catalogers are being arranged by SCCTP trainers and catalogers in the UC system. Congratulations to all UC CONSER members in this collaboration. Pat French, formerly at UC Davis (see more below) deserves special recognition for initiating the proposal. Thanks also to Valerie Bross (UCLA), Melissa Beck (UCLA) and Adolfo Tarango (UCSD) for taking the leadership role in guiding this group.

-- Les Hawkins (LC)


Pat French formerly of UC Davis, is getting married this summer and will be starting her new position as Head of Collections and Technical Services Multnomah Public Library, Portland Oregon. Pat has been an SCCTP trainer and supporter of CONSER efforts for quite a long time. We are grateful to Pat for her support and her work in getting the UC CONSER funnel off the ground. Congratulations Pat!

Vanessa Mitchell, R.R. Bowker affiliate representative to CONSER, reports that "As of January 2006, the Ulrich's family of products -, Ulrich's Serials Analysis System, Ulrich's Resource Linker, and Ulrich's On Disc, have been transitioned to CSA, Bowker's sister company in the Cambridge Information Group. The Ulrich's editorial team and its many language specialists, along with the Ulrich's serials product development team, have also joined CSA as employees. The Ulrich's products continue on their existing product platforms under the Ulrich's brand, and all sales, marketing, support, and customer training are handled by CSA." There has been no change in the collaboration formed between Bowker and NSDP in 2002. As a CSA employee, Vanessa will continue her work in making ISSN assignments and creating Ulrich's listings for U.S. serials. As a result of this, CSA has become an affiliate member of CONSER. A press release regarding the Bowker - CSA transition is available at: (external link)

In February, MIT Libraries announced that Bonnie Parks is Head, Serials Cataloging Section. Bonnie comes to MIT from Oregon State University Libraries where she held the position of Serials Cataloging Unit Head and CONSER coordinator. She also served as Serials Catalog Librarian at the University of Washington. Bonnie is known nationally for her involvement in the NASIG and as an SCCTP trainer. Bonnie possesses an impressive breath of experience in library services. Bonnie received her MLIS from the University of Washington and a B.A. from John Carroll University. Bonnie represented MIT at April CONSER OpCo meetings.

Melanie Watts, research librarian at EBSCO’s Title Information Department, represented EBSCO at the CONSER Operations Meeting in April. Best wishes to Jennifer Fons (formerly Jennifer O'Connell), long time EBSCO representative to CONSER, in her relocation to California. Congratulations to both Jennifer and Ted Fons, (Innovative Interfaces, Inc.) on their marriage! Jennifer will continue working for EBSCO from California. We thank Jennifer for her many contributions to the Operation committee over the years. We missed seeing you at the annual meeting Jennifer!

CONSER dinner in San Antonio

Sue Fuller (University of Texas at Austin) and Lisa Furubotten (Texas A&M) organized the CONSER ALA dinner in San Antonio in January. A large CONSER group met at Mi Tierra, a restaurant specializing in Mexican food and famous for its bakery, year round Christmas decoration, Zapata tee-shirts, and strolling musicians. As promised, all attendees were given a big Longhorn and Aggie Texas welcome. There were many happy drawing prize winners. Thanks to Lisa and Sue for a super fun gathering!

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