Library of Congress

Program for Cooperative Cataloging

The Library of Congress > Cataloging, Acquisitions > PCC > CONSER > Cataloging Issues > CONSER At Large Summary January 2002

ALA Midwinder, New Orleans, LA
8:00-9:30 AM, January 20, 2002

Bob Wolven (Columbia), Chair-Elect of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging, welcomed attendees and extended a special thanks to Faxon for the coffee and beignets!  He noted that in the forthcoming year CONSER Operations Committee representatives would be considering the strategic planning points that were developed at the PCC  Policy Committee meeting last fall. 

Jean Hirons reflected on past CONSER At Large meetings and how they have grown over the years to include many librarians with an interest in CONSER.  She also noted that the membership discussions from the June 2001 At Large meeting had an important impact on the strategic planning issues discussed at the Policy Committee meeting last fall and would be useful in future planning. 

Reports and updates

AACR2 revisions.   Hirons reported that the Chapter 12 revisions are scheduled to be finalized in February 2002 as part of the 2002 amendments.  In publishing the 2002 amendments package, ALA publishing will be converting AACR2 to a loose-leaf.  The new version is expected in July 2002.  LC has announced it will implement the rules Sept. 1, 2002. Judy Kuhagen is leading two groups in writing rule interpretations for continuing resources, one focused on integrating resources, the other on serials. The CONSER Cataloging Manual is undergoing revision by a group at LC. Hirons and Les Hawkins (LC) are planning a workshop at NASIG to cover treatment of serials and integrating resources under the new rules. Hirons will be participating with Rhonda Lawrence (UCLA) and Regina Reynolds (LC) in providing training at ALA annual.

SCCTP.   A three day train-the-trainer session was held prior January 16-18 for two new SCCTP courses: Advanced Serials Cataloging and Electronic Serials Cataloging.  Another session is scheduled for January 28-30 in Toronto.  The E-Serials course will be released in April and the Advanced Serials course will be released in July.  In addition, a revision of the Serial Holdings workshop is underway to provide more system-specific information and additional simpler examples.  The revision will be released in June or sooner.

Publication patterns.  Sally Sinn (National Agricultural Library) gave an update on the CONSER Publication Patterns Initiative. She reviewed factors the task force will use to assess the success and future direction of the project. One of the successes of the project is that over 43,000 patterns have been added to records (over 2500 of these by participants, the rest through the Harvard load of patterns on OCLC records). Task force members reported at the Saturday meeting that pattern data is now routinely encountered when searching records on OCLC and they are also finding that new patterns have been added to reflect frequency and numbering changes.

With the experience gained in implementing pattern work into existing workflows, the task force is now looking at how workflow analysis for different types of library environments might help those wishing to consider their own workflows.

June 2002 will mark the end of the two-year pilot and two surveys will be distributed to assess its success and where we go from here.  One will gather information from current participants to analyze workflow and other issues. The other survey is for CONSER members who are not yet participating in the pattern initiative, to assess barriers to implementing pattern work.

Sinn also mentioned discussions focusing on universal MARC holdings format that were held at the MARC Formats Interest Group (MFIG) meeting. CONSER and MFIG will co-sponsor a managed discussion on what is universal in holdings records at the summer meeting in June.

Jean Hirons added the comment that the success of adding pattern data quickly and easily was largely due to the macro Robert Bremer developed for participants.

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CONSER PURL Pilot Project

Valerie Bross (UCLA) reported on the development of the CONSER PURL Pilot Project. She credited Becky Culbertson, University of California, San Diego as its co-developer. The project will allow CONSER participating members to cooperatively maintain URLs on OCLC records through a PURL server. The scope will be on any type of non-commercial, non-government, online electronic resource. OCLC is hosting the PURL server. The server was implemented the week of Jan. 16, 2002 and will be tested by a group of volunteer testers from CONSER this spring. Requirements for participation in the project include the commitment to enter at least 20 PURLS and maintain them on an at least a monthly basis. In return, participants will receive reports on URLs on a weekly basis.


Glenn Patton (OCLC) briefly described the status of OCLC’s new database implementation and answered questions about implementation of new MARC 21 codes associated with the AACR2 revisions. The implementation of code “i” is a very major change, since it will have an impact on record revision, indexing, and record distribution. OCLC will be looking at the new MARC 21 documentation and considering whether or not it will be able to make the new code available in OCLC when LC implements the revisions in Sept. 2002. He also briefly outlined OCLC plans for phasing out Passport, first in favor of CatME and eventually in favor of a new Web based user interface expected to be available sometime during summer 2002.

Panel discussion

Jean Hirons introduced guest panelists Kathy Tomajko, Assistant to the Dean of Libraries, Georgia Institute of Technology, and secretary of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) and Julie Gammon, Head, Acquisitions Dept., University of Akron. Hirons invited Tomajko and Gammon to provide feedback from the reference and acquisitions communities, respectively, on several questions relating to CONSER and serial records.  In providing their responses, both panelists consulted with colleagues in their field and provided summarized answers.

Question 1:  If you could have your way, what would you change about how serials are cataloged?

Tomajko responded that, according to her colleagues, there should be one serial record for all formats and all title changes! Patrons don’t like multiple records and those responding felt that a single record would better serve them.  Her respondents also wish that the ISSN practice of assigning separate ISSN would be discontinued and one ISSN would be assigned to all versions.

According to Tomajko, users are frustrated with library catalogs compared to search engines and Web sites, such as Amazon. Sometimes the OPAC contains too much information, too many possible versions for example, where a search engine leads the user to believe they are getting the best hit first. Users want to just see the one correct hit for a search and move on.

Tomajko also noted problems with linking relationships.  Too often OPACs don’t correctly label the linking relationships found in serial records.  Title changes are not being displayed well in our catalogs and one librarian said that returning to the days when such changes were labeled as “superceded” and “supercedes” would be an improvement over current displays that are labeled “another title.”  Tomajko noted that in some catalogs all that appears are the links, rather than the displays that are supposed to be generated from those fields.

She concluded with the observation that if the record leads to more questions than answers, it does a disservice to users.

Gammon’s responded that acquisition librarians “love your records.” She and her colleagues remembered the early MULS records and how pleased they were just getting access to some kind of record. Acquisitions librarians are happy to find that a serial record exists. The colleagues that Gammon consulted included those who oversee e-serial management systems at universities, as well as representatives from EBSCO, Faxon, and TDNet.

Gammon said that from the e-serials management perspective, more cataloging records for e-serials is better. And up-to-date records are needed for acquisition, payments, and problem solving.  She would particularly like to see URLs updated.  Another item on the “wish list” was for liscensing information to be available in the bibliographic record.

Acquisitions librarians want more ISSN printed on the cover in the SICI to enhance check-in and they would like CONSER to press publishers to do this!  She also noted that shared publication pattern data and maintenance would be a benefit to all serialists because it saves them from updating patterns/frequencies one by one in each library.

Hirons commented that CONSER is already addressing some of these issues, such as maintenance of URLs with the PURL pilot, and sharing of publication patterns. The implementation of multiple 260 fields, a CONSER proposal approved by MARBI, will also allow for better access to and display of current publishing information.

Ellen Rappaport (Albany Law) commented that, while she appreciated the desire for a single record covering all title changes and formats, separate records better allow matching with holdings records. If universal MARC holdings format will allow greater granularity with holdings records, for example, if five different format/version holding records can be linked to a single “work” bib record, then successive entry would make matching to holdings easier. We need to tell vendors the type of local control we need and demand that it’s a part of the systems we buy.

Wendy Riedel (LC) pointed out that what is presented to the user of an OPAC can be controlled by the display in the local search interface and result displays.  All of this varies, system by system. The way records display in the local database is the cause of a lot of problems for interpreting and using records. Its very helpful for all staff to understand the MARC format and how a system indexes records and interprets results. Local databases can be manipulated to clarify how 780/785 information displays- so that to the end user, it might really look like they are looking at one display, even though the information comes from two successive records. Hirons asked whether CONSER could do more with OPAC displays, particularly for title changes and suggested that CONSER develop guidelines for the use of linking entry fields in OPAC displays.  This idea was well-received and will be further explored.

Hirons asked Gammon how well CONSER was doing at maintaining records and Gammon replied that the updated information is not always there when it’s needed. 

Ann Ercelawn (Vanderbilt) noted that people working in acquisitions discover changes in serials (frequency, title) but catalogers can’t make changes until they get an issue in hand which shows the change.

Regina Reynolds mentioned that maintenance on the local level means needing to download a change, library by library. She discussed the value of the “virtual record,” an idea suggested at the At Large meeting January 2001. If a library OPAC mirrored the master record, the change would only need to be made once and all catalogs would then show the changes.

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Question 2 How effective has CONSER been in handling the proliferation of e-serial records and the problems involved with them?  Some of CONSER’s initiatives have included the single record approach and providing access to journals in aggregations through record sets.

Tomajko stated that she and the librarians she spoke with appreciate the challenges of cataloging. One comment she received was that the single record can be a “nightmare” for a large library and that separate records may be better as long as they file together.

She also received comments on approaches to handling aggregator databases. One respondent had contracted with Serials Solutions to handle aggregations and noted that their OPAC does not handle aggregator packages any better than Serials Solutions. Still, there is a lot of work involved in compiling data to maintain the Serials Solutions index of your serial titles.

Tomajko shared a comment she received about OCLC World cat records for e-serials. She noted that the local OPAC doesn’t always implement links in the records well and it is hard to maintain other information such as embargo periods or other time-span limits imposed on particular e-serial titles with the OPAC record approach because this info isn’t part of the record. This commenter noted that JAKE does a good job with this type of information tracking, better than what can be achieved through World cat  records.

Tomajko also noted that reference librarians use the OPAC all the time. A&I databases don’t give the complete information needed to actually locate an article in your library, or the packages you subscribe to.

One other comment she received was on the need for journal title abbreviations being searchable in the OPAC. If abbreviations used by A&I services were a part of the catalog record, this would save time and effort. CONSER members pointed out that field 210 had been expanded to include these abbreviations.

Reynolds noted that perhaps NISO should be involved in the areas of license management, selection criteria for integrated serials management systems, tracking software, etc.

Gammon’s TDNet contact commented that CONSER records are used by TDNet to update information and allow downloading of updated records into subscriber databases. Hirons said that other serials management companies, such as Serials Solutions, had also purchased the CONSER database to maintain up to date information.  Naomi Young (University of Florida) mentioned that automated downloading of records from one of the integrated serials management systems like TDNet can cause a problem by overlaying local/customized information in the existing catalog records.

One CONSER participant remarked that because these companies are using the CONSER database for supplying access to aggregations, CONSER members still need to catalog and maintain records!  Valerie Bross suggested inviting these companies to become affiliate members of CONSER to help process updates of records, and, as such, they would have better insight into how catalog records and serials standards, like ISSN work.

It was suggested that CONSER invite vendor representatives to the summer At Large meeting to further discuss issues of access and CONSER’s role.

Hirons and Wolven both thanked Tomajko and Gammon for their contributions. A more complete article will be included in the next issue of CONSERline.

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