Library of Congress

Program for Cooperative Cataloging

The Library of Congress > Program for Cooperative Cataloging > CONSER > CONSER At Large Meeting January 14, 2001 ALA Midwinter Meeting, Washington, DC

CONSER "Visioning" Exercise


At the November 2000 PCC Policy meeting, Maureen Finn described upcoming changes at OCLC, including the acquisition of a new relational database. This raised many possibilities for CONSER records and Jean Hirons suggested that perhaps a visioning exercise would be appropriate to come up with a CONSER wish-list. The group quickly decided that this was an excellent idea but that it should be PCC-wide and not limited to OCLC. The following list of questions relates to not only CONSER records and their distribution, but also to various aspects of the CONSER Program in general. A similar exercise also took place at the BIBCO At Large meeting with questions of interest to that program.

The intention of the discussion was to brainstorm freely and, if there was time, to agree on top priorities. The results are being made publicly available here on the CONSER Web site. The necessity for further follow-up on specific points, such as feedback to OCLC, will be determined by the PCC Policy Committee and CONSER Coordinator with input from CONSER members.

Questions relating to records and record distribution

  • Given the various uses of the CONSER record and the various types of adjunct information, such as A&I data and publication patterns, that we convey through our records, what capabilities might we want from records on OCLC?
  • While the CONSER database is constantly updated and distributed, most contributors or users of records do not receive updates in their catalogs. With the rapid increase of even more dynamic resources on the Web, this need may greatly increase.
    • What current methods are being used?
    • Should we try to achieve a better model for updating internal catalogs for CONSER or all PCC records?
    • How might we do this?

Summary from the meeting (developed by Jean Hirons and Sally Sinn):

What we want

  • The ability to create and maintain records in the simplest way, including more methods for global update of records and maximizing cooperation
  • The ability to access the most up-to-date information at any one time from our catalogs
  • The ability to easily combine both universal and local data in our catalogs
  • The ability to access more types of data via the bibliographic records Resolution to the problems of multiple versions!

Long-term solutions

        The virtual record.   By virtual, we mean that rather than downloading a record from OCLC to a local catalog, a library's catalog would point to the CONSER record with the addition of local data. In this way, the record viewed at the local level would always be the most up-to-date version. We see this as the key to solving many of the problems related to maintenance and we think it would greatly increase support for CONSER and maintenance of records. However, we realize that this is not currently feasible in the near term and only some version of this might ever be achievable. 

Shorter-term solutions


  •         External links.   We want the ability to link from the CONSER record to external records and databases, such as jake for full text and A&I data, a publication pattern/holdings record that would be built on the data now being input to CONSER records, and a future ISST (international standard serials title) database.
  •         Internal links among bibliographic records.   We want the ability to make better use of existing links in records to bring together related records in our catalogs. We would also like to have a hierarchical record where records could be linked from a record for a conference and the analytics for each conference. This is also important for multiple versions.
  •         Automated creation of links from existing records.


  •         Batchloading of maintenance transactions
  •         The ability to batch lock and replace groups of records [e.g., changing the URL in a set of records from the same publisher]
  •         Change OCLC's record update service to include all CONSER transactions, rather than just changes that increased the level of the record
  •         More global updating of names, series, and subjects
  •         Find ways to maintain URLs outside of the bibliographic record, such as the use of PURLS

Questions relating to the CONSER Program: CONSER's successes, challenges, and the future

  • What do you think CONSER is doing most successfully? What do you think CONSER is less successful at doing? How can this be improved?
  • What challenges do you see for CONSER and other PCC programs in the next five years and how can CONSER best ready itself for those challenges?

Summary from the meeting (developed by Jean Hirons and Sally Sinn):

The responses to these questions are grouped into six areas. The challenges and thoughts for the future follow the successes.


Focus on serials

        CONSER's focus on serials has given it a clear mission that is broadly understood and for which there is strong support. The fact that serials are complicated and constantly changing has also kept CONSER flexible and focused on the bigger problems.


        CONSER has excelled at providing documentation and training that reach far beyond the program. Because of this, CONSER standards have become the norm in many institutions. This has given CONSER a stature and respect that has allowed them to set new standards, as well as taking the lead in revising existing standards, such as AACR2.


        The fact that the CONSER database resides in one database was cited as a strength. It was also noted as a weakness or challenge.

Stability and consistency

        Two aspects were cited: the CONSER Coordinator, who plays a pivotal role in the program, and the fact that the CONSER Operations Committee is inclusive and not rotational. Both of these provide a strong base of experience and ongoing support.


        CONSER's ability to anticipate and respond to issues in a timely manner has also been a great strength.

        It was also mentioned that CONSER is not afraid to tackle difficult issues, or take on new areas, such as publication patterns.

Trust and collegiality

        CONSER is a unified group where members respect one another and work together to solve problems. They also enjoy their work together. This is key to CONSER's overall success and the recruitment of new members.



        CONSER's scope is currently limited to English-language records for serials cataloged according to AACR2 and MARC. Should CONSER broaden its scope by encompassing one or more of the following?

  • Non-MARC records, such as Dublin Core
  • Non-English language AACR2 records
  • Non-AACR2 records (as a result of international harmonization efforts)
  • Non-serials [i.e., should some or all integrating resources be eligible for CONSER authentication?]


        If any of the above are incorporated into CONSER, it will create an even greater need for standards.

        Consider finding ways of making its documentation more available via the Web and perhaps for free? [A PCC Standing Committee on Training task group has also recommended this.]

        Are CONSER standards for quality and quantity barriers to getting more people involved or retaining existing members? How can we overcome perceptions that participation is expensive or too difficult?


        We have never found a way for non-OCLC participants to participate.

        This is important if we want to expand internationally.

Stability and consistency

        CONSER is growing and the Operations Committee is also growing. Will inclusive representation be able to be sustained?

        The graying of CONSER! We are getting older; are there enough young people coming up to replace us?

        Financial and institutional support in a time of budget tightening may be a threat. 


        Achieving a clear sense of CONSER's role in PCC was noted. There is still the perception that there are two programs: PCC, which includes NACO, SACO, and BIBCO; and CONSER.

        More aggressive outreach and promotion of our expertise. Should CONSER have more interaction with publishers and developers of Web sites to suggest best practices for presentation of bibliographic information? Play a more active role in setting policies for digital libraries, and working more closely with reference librarians and system vendors.

        Find ways to market our expertise, including doing contract cataloging for other libraries.

Comments and additions for this visioning exercise are invited and may be sent to: Jean Hirons, CONSER Coordinator, Library of Congress.

Click here for Additional Summary from Meeting

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