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Program for Cooperative Cataloging

The Library of Congress > Program for Cooperative Cataloging > CONSER > Summary of the 1998 CONSER Operations Committee Meeting MAY 7-8, 1998

Jean Hirons, CONSER Coordinator (LC) and Ann Della Porta, BIBCO Coordinator (LC) welcomed the participants to the first joint session of the CONSER Operations Committee and the newly-formed BIBCO Operations Committee. Brian Schottlaender (UCLA), chair of PCC, and Sally Sinn (NAL), chair-elect, also attended the opening sessions and a portion of the BIBCO meeting.


The Evolution of CONSER/The Birth of BIBCO

Ruth Haas (Harvard), Adam Schiff (Washington), and John Schalow (Maryland) opened the meeting with their thoughts on CONSER and BIBCO. Haas reflected on the early intentions for the Conversion of Serial Project, how it developed into the Cooperative Online Serials Program, and the importance of the Operations Committee in the success of the Program. Schiff noted the differences between CONSER and BIBCO due to the expected size of BIBCO and his hope for more diversity and burden-free documentation. Schalow expressed his hopes for BIBCO in terms of "communication, coordination, documentation, and incentives," which he acknowledged was not as catchy as "more, better, faster, cheaper!" Peer pressure and credits are the incentives most important to catalogers and administrators, respectively, and thus, to the success of the Program according to Schalow.


Jean Hirons and Regina Reynolds (LC) presented a new approach to the redefinition of "serial" and a revised model of the bibliographic universe. Their thinking is a result of recent efforts to redefine "serial," as requested by the Joint Steering Committee for the Revision of AACR (JSC) following its conference in October 1997. Hirons and Reynolds explained the new model, its potential impact on AACR2, MARC, systems, and cooperative cataloging programs, and outlined a number of issues for discussion. The proposal and the presentation can be viewed on the CONSER Web site.

There was much enthusiasm and overall approval for the new model. Comments included exchanging the term "monographic" for a better term, such as "finite," because the concept is outdated; the need for the introductory material about "ongoing entities" to be at the beginning of the code; the use of the authorities format as an example; the graying of the lines between monograph and serial; and the fact that the cataloging of electronic resources has gone beyond the rules. Hirons noted that Tom Delsey (NLC) has been charged with modeling the current code and may as a result recommend a different structure to the rules.



Sue Fuller announced that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is now an independent CONSER Enhance member.

CONSER 25th anniversary celebration. Jean Hirons asked that CONSER members send pictures for the 25th anniversary by June 13th. Invitations will be sent soon. The program will include several speeches; additional reminiscences or humor will be much appreciated. There will also be a special 25th anniversary CONSER mug! The PCC Participants meeting will focus on CONSER, including a slide presentation on CONSER and a panel discussion on CONSER's impact on the bibliographic control of serials.

OCLC report. Robert Bremer reported that CONSER national authorizations have been changed to include NACO-regular activities. He also noted the guidelines issued by OCLC on choice of format. Bremer and others are in the process of changing some of the computer file serials to the serials workform, based on manual reports. OCLC is investigating changing CONSER's authorization to make it possible for CONSER members to change the type code in the record, possibly by the end of the year.

USNP. Bill Anderson reported that there are still 13 active cataloging projects in the United States Newspaper Program and that cataloging will probably require another eight to ten years. He noted that changes were recently made in the instructions for place names in the CONSER Cataloging Manual, Module 33, Newspapers. He reported on other activities that are aiming to bring USNP cataloging under the CONSER umbrella. USNP statistics will be included in the CONSER statistics by this summer, with representatives reporting to Anderson who inputs the data as a single figure. A representative to the CONSER Operations Committee is also under consideration, as well as a USNP component to CONSER Enhance. These topics will be discussed at the USNP meeting at the end of May.

ILS Focus Group. This idea originated with Carroll Davis (Columbia) who explained that in thinking about a particular procedure, he realized that changes in LC's ILS implementation could impact on CONSER. He had suggested to Hirons that several CONSER participants with ILS experience might be willing to work with LC as it explores its ILS implementation. Rather than the proposed focus group, suggestions were made that we use CONSERLST, that we wait to see what LC's system will be, and that we make use of the PCC Automation Standing Committee as much as possible. A number of us are going through this at the same time. Can we pool our resources and work on it together?

Accuracy review. Bill Anderson reported that we discontinued routing accuracy review two years ago. Since that time we have made all members independent and are currently not performing any review. Anderson asked whether any review process is needed for independent members and whether this should be a program responsibility or an institutional responsibility. Ron Watson (UCLA) commented that serial records are constantly used and updated and this serves as a form of review. A number of others reported on the review process within their own institutions. The decision was to leave the review process as it currently stands (i.e., for new members and those needing special help).

Core record report. David Van Hoy (MIT) reported on the process of developing a core record standard for MIT. Catalogers met with other librarians to discuss their needs and the result was a "rather full core." They will give all linking entries, for example. What will not be given are: 1) the nature of work/contents code (008); 2) reports numbers (fields 027 and 088) and CODEN (030); 4) language and geographic codes (fields 041 and 043); and 5) secondary subject headings (6XX). Most notes, except the technical documentation note (556) will be given. MIT will code their records as core, even if they could be considered full. David also noted that the workflow considerations could lead to data being added locally but not nationally. This is a time savings because less experienced staff can do the updates.

Ron Watson reported that UCLA marked records as core for about 6 months and Ruth Haas reported that Harvard is doing some core. Jean Hirons noted that LC is negotiating and that implementation of core has not yet begun.

Hirons reiterated her belief that creating core records is not our ultimate goal but rather being as efficient and effective as possible in the creation of CONSER records and that the core standard is one of the tools/options we can use. Kristin Lindlan reported that the University of Washington will be doing more minimal level cataloging. The question was also raised as to whether there should be a separate maintenance standard for core.

Module 35, Legal Serials. The draft, prepared by Rhonda Lawrence (UCLA) was distributed to the Committee and will be sent to others in the legal cataloging community.

Action: Send comments to Jean Hirons by end of July.

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Description of serials (AACR Review Group 2A)

Kristin Lindlan (Washington) led a discussion on whether we should change the basis of the description of all serials from the earliest to the latest issue. Several noted that acquisitions and reference librarians would very much prefer to have the latest information up front in the record and many electronic serials will of necessity be described from what is "current." The latest information is particularly useful in brief displays and in claims. Primary points of the discussion were:

  • Can we disconnect areas of the record between those that should be transcribed (title statement) and those that are identifying? (publisher)?
    • - We want to keep the title proper stable (i.e., not change it each time there is a title variation)
    • - We'd like to either use the latest publishing information or repeat the 260 fields. Do we want all the publishers in multiple 260's? Yes.
  • Would switching from earliest to latest issue as the basis for the description swap one set of problems for another? Are records maintained well enough that the "latest" information would really be the latest information? If title in 245 is moved to 246 for slight title variations, would this have an impact on key and uniform titles, citations, and increased maintenance in links in other records?
  • Rather than thinking solely in terms of earliest or latest perhaps we should be thinking in terms of describing the whole serial. We could indicate a span of issues by using "earliest issue consulted: ...; latest issue consulted: ..." along with the source of title and date viewed (for e-resources).
  • Should the statement of responsibility be given in the title statement or would it be better to record all responsible bodies together in one place in the record?
  • Should other title information be removed from the title statement? Yes -- give it in a quoted note (as we did before AACR2).

Whatever we decide to do in terms of changes, we should be cognizant of the varying needs of different libraries and aim for as much flexibility as possible.

Description of electronic serials (AACR Review Group 2B)

Pamela Simpson (Pennsylvania State University) discussed the role of the cataloging record in the physical inventory and the fact that this role will still be important, though somewhat different perhaps, for electronic resources. For serials available online less needs to be said about them because the item itself can more easily provide that information (e.g., holdings, file formats, etc.). Primary points of the discussion were:

  • Is the "Description based on" note, which implies description from a particular issue, still a useful concept for electronic serials? Most agreed that it isn't and that the "Coverage as of ..." and source of title/date viewed notes are sufficient.
  • The file formats (516) and system requirements (538) notes currently being given on electronic serial records seem no longer necessary. We will review our core record requirements and CONSER documentation and make the change as soon as possible, rather than waiting for AACR2 revision.
  • What should the source of title be for an electronic serial/resource?
    • Should it be the homepage or the issue? Do we know what the "homepage" is?
    • Can we use the "most complete source of information"? What do we mean by "most complete"? How much should be there?
    • How much can be left to catalogers' judgment? How will this work with international concerns for consistency?
    • For CD-ROMs can we reexamine the preference for internal sources? This is not a good approach for ongoing resources because of the reliance on check-in staff to catch title changes.

Action: Anderson and Hirons will initiate a review of current guidelines and the core record for remote serials to see might be changed with the next update to the CEG/CCM.

Electronic journals and Modified Model C: considerations of entry conventions (AACR Review Groups 1 and 3)

Regina Reynolds explained that many electronic journals (i.e., those where all issues are grouped under a single home page) don't cleanly fit into either the successive or the integrating columns in the model. She suggested that there are three possible ways for handling title and other entry changes: do all as successive, do all as latest, or use either approach, depending on the way in which the journal presents itself. A straw poll revealed almost unanimous favor for the mixed approach.

Sara Shatford Layne (UCLA) suggested that there is a different way to approach electronic journals that is more compatible with their "form of issuance." Her approach would combine some of the features of successive and latest entry with the concept of the analytic. If a journal has a single home page and the title changes, a new record would be created. The new record would begin, however, with whatever the first issue is on the site (i.e., both record 1 and 2 would have the same beginning numbers/dates of coverage). The linking relationship would be one of incorporation, with linking notes beginning: "incorporated into ..." and "incorporates." Questions raised included:

  • Should all earlier titles be carried over onto each new record or would we only link back one title? By carrying them all over a library could elect to retain only the latest record.
  • How much other data, particularly access points, should be carried over? Sara suggested that you catalog what you see and that if an access point contained on an earlier record is not in evidence currently that it not be given.
  • Do we need a new linking field? Would 773/774 be appropriate? Is the "absorbs/absorbed by" relationship appropriate?
  • Should this approach, if accepted, be limited to electronic journals or should/could it be applied to other electronic serials and integrating entities?
  • How would this impact on holdings?
  • How does this fit with the single record approach and use of the 776 field? It was suggested that perhaps we are using the 776 too much.

Participants showed keen interest in the suggested approach while recognizing that many of the details are yet to be thought out. One of the big pluses is the recognition that people are currently creating new records for loose-leaf services, databases, etc. even when they shouldn't be because they don't realize the connection to an existing record or because they lack the ability to update the existing record. Robert Bremer (OCLC) noted that he and others at OCLC are currently deleting such records. However, the "incorporating entry" approach might be better suited to a cooperative database. Concerns include users' dislike of multiple records and the potential maintenance of earlier records.

Following the discussions on Friday, Joan Swanekamp (Yale), former chair of CC:DA, offered advice on how to successfully approach the topics with CC:DA. She urged that we be as broad and as prepared as possible, that we elicit international support, and that we go to CC:DA first and MARBI later. She also encouraged Hirons to get on the CC:DA agenda for this summer. [Following the meeting Joan Schuitema emailed Dan Kinney who invited Hirons to speak on the new model at the Saturday afternoon session of CC:DA.]

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Bill Anderson led a discussion of the draft module to be published next fall. Anderson explained that the module is intended to serve as an organizing tool and that it references procedures found in the CEG and CCM. Frieda Rosenberg (UNCH) noted that this is an excellent training tool for new Enhance members.

Do we want to rethink record maintenance requirements? Some participants explained that they are not able to do as much maintenance as they once did, particularly frequency and publisher changes. We may want to review section B4 in the CONSER Editing Guide which sets the policies for what is required and what is optional.

Action: Review Section B4 in the CONSER Editing Guide to determine if changes should be made based on current practice. Group to be assigned.

Anderson asked whether changes in procedures might be desirable in the following areas.

  • Converting pre-AACR2 records. The CEG says currently to convert records for monographic series in all cases, however, we really only need to do so when the entry would be different. We will change the instruction.
    • Judy Kuhagen (LC) noted that if the serial and SAR records don't match that they should be sent to her.
    • John Clark (NLC) reported that it may be possible to convert NLC records. He will let us know via CONSERLST.
  • Duplicate records. Anderson asked whether the current guidelines for selecting the record to retain are too confusing or constraining. There was agreement that we be able to use the best record when both are at the same level but not to entirely drop the requirement to select the authenticated record. The instructions will remain as they are.

  • Consolidation. We will also retain the current procedures of consolidation and separation of records.

  • Reporting changes to LC. Anderson noted that when a CONSER participant makes a significant change to an LC record that would affect the holdings that LC must be notified. He asked whether all CONSER members shouldn't be notified. The mechanism for the notification could be CONSRLST or some other means. While some seemed to appreciate the desirability of receiving the information, there was little support for the suggestion due to the perceived burden of reporting and dealing with others' reports.

  • Deleting records from the CONSER database. Should LC continue doing all of this or is it time for CONSER libraries to be able to do it. It was suggested that we start slowly and that an institution would delete only their own records. Rather than paper reports, could we use a Web form?

  • When and when not to review the record. John Riemer (Georgia) suggested that we make it clear in the instructions that a CONSER institution is not expected to review the entire record each time it is updated. Closing off the record may mean a more thorough review in order to determine what needs to be closed off. His suggestion was favorably received.

Action: Send further comments to Bill Anderson by end of July.


Full text databases. Ruth Haas discussed the problem of providing patrons with the information that a journal is covered in a full-text database. Ideally, we want to lead the user to the database via the catalog, what she described as a "backwards 'hook-to-holdings' approach"! Problems include the fact that all articles may not be available, that titles are added and dropped from services, and that there are a number of services and a wide range of access possibilities, from no access to full cataloging records. Ruth expressed her desire for an automated approach, perhaps via vendors, such as EBSCO Host. She also noted that OCLC Tech Pro is creating records for Elsevier journals that can be purchased as a set.

Lyle Minter, LC's head of serials reference, reported that like many other libraries, LC is keeping this information on its Web site. As listing journals on Web pages becomes unwieldy, however, more are turning to the catalog. One possibility, aside from separate records, is using the 510 field on the print record. This would involve expanding the definition of the field and would also result in the problems we now have with the 510: record length and the maintenance burden.

Jean Hirons requested that as a first step, Haas and others survey the situation: what kinds of databases are available and what kinds of access are currently being provided. John Riemer and Jeanne Baker (U. Maryland) will assist Haas in doing an "environmental scan." It may be appropriate to broaden the scope of the A&I/ISSN Task Force to examine possible approaches and solutions (see discussion below).

Action: Haas, Riemer and Baker will report their findings at the CONSER At Large meeting at ALA in June.

The cataloging of Web databases as serials was raised during the discussion and Kevin MacShane (NLM) explained that NLM is currently treating them as serials but not authenticating them. There was general enthusiasm for more wide-spread CONSER experimentation because many titles that are serials in print and CD-ROM are now available in Web versions and are currently disqualified from serials treatment. Robert Bremer expressed concerns from the OCLC perspective and standards.

Action: Consider whether there is any way to catalog such databases as serials prior to AACR2 revision. Hirons will confer with Kuhagen on the possibility of an LCRI.

Single-Record Approach. Steve Shadle (U. Washington) reported that he recently conducted a survey on the use of single or multiple records as part of an article that he is preparing. 95% of the respondents are academic libraries and of these 50% are using a single record. 30% use separate records and the remaining 20% use a mixture. Institutional policies vary, some depending on resources, others more concerned about potential differences between the print and online versions. Carroll Davis reported that Columbia has received some negative feedback from having too many formats on one record. All still agree, however, that the approach is a useful tool and no changes should be made to the policy.

Metadata. Where we include information in USMARC records will be important if these records are mapped to Dublin core (or the other way around). We should consider this as we rethink some of our current practices. Would it be useful to map the CONSER core for remote serials to the Dublin core? [Note: An article in v. 1, no. 3 of the Journal of Internet Cataloging by Glassel and Wells includes a DC-MARC mapping.]

Action: Review the CONSER core record for remote serials with the Dublin Core.

BE-Online. Hirons reported that Regina Reynolds is participating in a project at LC to catalog electronic resources in the areas of business and economics. In an effort to streamline the records as much as possible, the serial records will not include the 256, 516 or 538 notes.

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510 fields in CONSER records. Reynolds summarized the survey results that concluded that 510 fields are still useful and that the lack of maintenance is not a serious concern. The record length, however, is still a serious problem that won't be resolved any time soon and thus, removing selected 510 fields from records is our only recourse. OCLC is willing to mount a form on its Web site by which CONSER libraries could "deposit" discarded 510 fields so that they could later be added back to the records.

Kevin MacShane asked whether a repeatable $a might solve some of the problem and Steve Shadle noted that a single string would be preferable for those that come in clusters.

Reynolds also reported on the results of a survey that task force members conducted with A&I services that asked whether the services reconsidered their coverage of a journal when the journal's title changed. Most said they didn't and thus, CONSER libraries should feel safe in copying the 510 fields from the old record to the new.

Action: Bill Anderson will add the new guidelines for removal of 510 fields and use of the OCLC form to the CEG and will place on the CONSER Web site in the interim. Instructions for copying 510 fields for new records resulting from title changes will also be included.

Concern was expressed about the services that were not originally covered, such as ISI, or are new since the original project. Should we consider a new grant and a new project? The full text databases were brought up and the idea of including this information in the 510 field was reintroduced. The CONSER record seems the logical place for information both about the indexing and the full text availability.

ISSN Issues. The other part of the task force's current charge deals with the use of ISSN in A&I services. Regina urged libraries to convey problems with ISSN to her and also encouraged them to purchase the ISSN Compact which has come down in price. She also noted possible future access via the Web. The International Centre is hoping to target the A&I community as a marked for ISSN Compact.

During both the discussion of the full text databases and the single record approach on Thursday, the problem of having dual ISSNs for print and electronic versions was raised. The vendors are indexing the printed publication and using the print ISSN; however patrons want to access the electronic journal and the two have different ISSN. It was noted that the hooks-to-holdings feature works best when the A&I services use the print ISSN. However, the ISSN is used for ordering and having separate ISSN for this purpose is important. On Friday, Reynolds reported that she had attended a DOI meeting on the previous day where participants also commented on their unhappiness with the ISSN policy. Reynolds will convey these comments to the International Centre.


CONSER Curriculum. John Riemer reported that he, Faye Leibowitz (Pittsburgh), and Judy Knopp (ATLA) were charged with developing a curriculum for new CONSER members. There was much enthusiasm for the curriculum, both from the perspective of training new CONSER members for training catalogers within current CONSER institutions.

Knopp also noted that she will be training a cataloger from Claremont School of Theology as the first participant in an ATLA CONSER funnel.

Suggestions included:

  • Consider the trainer's and the trainee's perspectives separately
  • Create a subset for CONSER Enhance
  • NACO reporting should be clearly explained, and included in the CEG

[Note: CONSER members should go through their SRD liaison first; if the problem is with a monograph of SRD can't handle for some other reason, send to [email protected]]

  • Cheat sheets would be very useful; could be included in Module 21
  • Include information on what fields are not distributed (090 in particular; 936, etc.)
  • Indicate when to claim maintenance credits

Serials Training Initiative. Jean Hirons reported on the work that she has been doing with a Steering Group, comprised of representatives from CONSER (David Van Hoy and John Riemer), NASIG, ALCTS, and FEDLINK. The results of a survey, conducted in March, made the desires for training clear: basic and electronic serials training that is conducted locally and as inexpensively as possible for a relatively inexperienced group of people that do not catalog serials exclusively. With that in mind, the Steering Group has discussed a modular approach to training development using in-person sessions with the Web for before and after exercises and follow-up. Mentoring by trainers following the session is also being considered. The basic plan is for this initiative to standardize the materials and train the trainers but not plan or organize the sessions. This will be left to local organizations, library schools, etc.

Hirons outlined a fairly ambitious agenda that would have a pilot available by next spring. She will work with the Steering Committee to further develop the pilot and with Brian Schottlaender to review funding considerations. [Hirons sent the proposed timeline to Operations Committee members following the meeting.]

Suggestions included:

  • Pre-and post-accessment to gage success.
  • Clearly stated performance objectives for mentoring to assure closure

Another piece of the program is training the trainers. The training would focus on presentation skills and tips on tailoring the training materials to meet the needs of specific groups. Joan Swanekamp (Yale) reported that PCC has had mixed success. Some trainers have done training, others have not. However, the support they provide for each other via a list and meetings at ALA has been helpful. There was a positive show of hands when asked how many would be interested in being trainers and would have the institutional support.

Suggestions included:

  • Start small and build
  • Consider geographic distribution

Hirons noted that the PCC Training Standing Committee might be the place for ongoing update and review of the materials. Perhaps a subgroup might work within that committee.

Steve Shadle commented that this will be a real boon to those who currently do serials training and that being able to share experiences will be very valuable.


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