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Program for Cooperative Cataloging

The Library of Congress > Program for Cooperative Cataloging > CONSER > CONSER POLICY COMMITTEE SUMMARY OF MEETING

The annual meeting of the CONSER Policy Committee was held at the Library of Congress, November 14-15, 1996. The meeting on the 15th was held jointly with the Executive Council of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC). The main topic on the agenda for both days was the consolidation of the CONSER and PCC Programs.

Sue Phillips (University of Texas at Austin) chaired the meeting on the 14th. Brian Schottlaender (UCLA) chaired the meeting on the 15th in his capacity as new chair of CONSER Policy and interim chair of the PCC Executive Council.


During their initial discussion on the 14th, CONSER Policy representatives affirmed their desire to consolidate the Programs and to do so as speedily as possible. Summing up discussion from the PCC Executive Council meeting on Nov. 13th, Schottlaender outlined reasons for combining the Programs:
  • To provide a single voice for cataloging issues;
  • To combine the best aspects of both programs;
  • To reduce bureaucracy and redundancy within the program in order to be able to respond more quickly to matters of urgency;
  • To be able to better address issues that are not specific to any one format; and
  • To provide a strong voice that can address the "business" of cataloging.

During the Thursday discussions, Policy members defined the principles under which they felt the Program should operate, the governance structure and responsibilities of each committee within it, and further issues that will need to be addressed. All of these were reviewed and appended at the Friday meeting and what follows is the final outcome of the two-day discussion.

Details of the consolidation will be addressed by Schottlaender and a small working group which will report to both Programs by February for discussion at the ALA Mid-Winter conference with an eye to effecting a consolidation on October 1, 1997.


  1. There are benefits that accrue to a cooperative effort.
  2. PCC is a program composed of institutions rather than individuals.
  3. Membership will be broad-based and composed so as to achieve programmatic objectives.
  4. Membership will be open to any institution that meets the stated membership criteria.
  5. Differences in membership levels within the technical programs are allowable as long as overall programmatic aims are upheld.
  6. Membership implies responsibility.
  7. There will be appropriate representation from BIBCO and CONSER on Program committees.
  8. Policy Committee membership should be diverse.
  9. Members of the Program will work with each other as is necessary and most useful.
  10. The Program will keep decision-making at the lowest level, as appropriate.
  11. Cataloging records produced by program members will be made as widely available as possible.
  12. The work and meetings of the Operations and Standing Committees should be facilitated to the maximum extent possible (i.e., financially).
  13. The Program will maximize resources by coordinating/sharing workloads as much as possible (e.g., training, language expertise).
  14. The Program will provide leadership in the information community.
  15. The Program will be future-oriented.


The PCC Program will have a single mission statement and set of goals, based on the principles outlined above. Each technical program (e.g., BIBCO, CONSER) will have a tactical plan that will serve as a task list. The working group will look at the current PCC and CONSER plans and suggest ways in which they can be combined.

Duane Arenales (NLM) suggested that a retreat may be in order once the CONSER and PCC Programs are combined to address planning and future direction.


The newly-configured Program for Cooperative Cataloging will serve as an "umbrella" to the four technical programs: BIBCO, CONSER, NACO, and SACO. A Policy Committee, consisting of representatives from the membership who will serve rotating terms, will make high-level decisions regarding the Program as a whole. A Steering Committee, comprised of Policy Committee members, will work with the secretariat (LC) to manage the Program. Two separate operations groups--the current CONSER Operations Committee and a newly-formed BIBCO Operations Committee--will provide active participation at the working level. The Program will also maintain the current three PCC Standing Committees on Automation, Standards, and Training, which will work closely with the Operations and Policy Committees.


After examining the current responsibilities of the CONSER standing committees, as outlined in CEG, A5, "CONSER Management and Meeting Structure," and the responsibilities of the PCC Executive Council, the group agreed to the following basic composition, roles, and responsibilities.

Policy Committee

The Policy Committee will be representative, rather than inclusive, as has been the case with CONSER. How new Policy Committee members will be elected and the composition of the Committee will be addressed by the working group. However, it was agreed that each institution would maintain a policy-level representative, even though that person would only be called upon from time-to-time to serve on the Committee. The policy representative will be apprised of activities via email and will be expected to attend appropriate meetings at ALA, such as the CONSER At Large and Cooperative Cataloging meetings, as schedules allow. In this way, each institution can still have a voice at the policy level, and prospective Policy Committee members will be informed as to the issues of current concern.

Responsibilities of the Policy Committee are to:

  1. Develop criteria for membership.
  2. Develop, review, and approve long term strategies, plans, goals and objectives.
  3. Initiate, review and approve policy in regard to non-technical matters.
  4. Review resource implications of technical policy initiatives and other operational recommendations (e.g., establishing task forces).
  5. Approve changes to the organizational structure and procedures as necessary.
  6. Appoint chairs of standing committees and monitor progress.
  7. Communicate with the membership (i.e., those not represented on the committee) and more broadly with the community at large.
  8. Keep Operations and Standing Committees informed of current developments.
  9. Monitor and ensure coordination among operations and standing committees.
  10. Develop and implement mechanisms to evaluate program effectiveness.

Steering Committee

There was much discussion as to whether this should be a higher- level "executive" committee or a more administrative "management" committee. As resolved, the "Steering" Committee will function much like CONSER's current Executive Committee does, i.e., to keep the Program focused and moving. Administration is the job of the secretariat and overall decision-making the job of the Policy Committee.

Responsibilities of the Steering Committee are to:

  1. Approve or disapprove of membership applications in consultation with the secretariat.
  2. Develop and approve draft agendas for meetings of the Policy and Steering Committees.
  3. Poll committee representatives and other members in regard to important issues that arise between regularly-scheduled meetings and make decisions, as appropriate.
  4. Inform the Policy Committee about issues of importance as they arise.
  5. Identify mechanisms to ensure effective communications with all Program participants.
  6. Direct the strategic planning process for the Program.
  7. Seek and manage resources to support goals.

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Operations Committees

In keeping with the principle of moving decision-making to the lowest possible level, representatives endorsed empowering the CONSER Operations Committee to make more decisions and the creation of a similar group for BIBCO.

The separate operations groups were the subject of some discussion, with Christian Boissanas (Cornell) expressing a desire to see one group now or in the near future. Others, however, felt that the separate groups are needed, at least for the present, and that no specific date of merger should be planned. If in the future both groups are addressing the same issues, a combined committee would make sense.

Sandy Wolff (New York State Library) suggested that operations meetings be held back-to-back so that issues of common interest could be jointly addressed and to facilitate training at LC.

Responsibilities of the Operations Committees are to:

  1. Help to develop and maintain technical documentation.
  2. Review operational procedures and suggest changes.
  3. Contribute to the development of standards by reviewing and commenting on proposed changes to rules, rule interpretations, USMARC format, or other standards.
  4. Propose to their own institution or to their policy representative appropriate or necessary changes in PCC policy.
  5. Keep their institutional policy representative and the Policy Committee informed of current developments.
  6. Coordinate with the Standards, Automation and Training Standing Committees, as appropriate.
  7. Identify the need to establish task forces to address specific issues.


These have been established under PCC as operations-level groups and have been successful in accomplishing a number of specific tasks. CONSER representatives acknowledged the benefits from having serial representation on these committees, particularly automation. There is the possibility of confusion, however, as to what decisions are made by whom and clear guidelines and lines of communication will need to be established.

Representatives to the Standards and Training Committees should probably come from BIBCO and CONSER member institutions, but the Automation Committee should be free to draw on appropriate people from any PCC member institution. The Policy Committee will appoint the chairs and the chairs will appoint the individual committees. One of the primary responsibilities will be to have oversight for task forces dealing with issues that cross formats.


Funding is a complex issue, encompassing travel costs, utility credits, telecommunications, staff support, and documentation. The group agreed to the basic principle that costs should be shared widely and that we need to be ever-mindful of controlling costs. They also agreed that the majority of the funds should go to the Operations Committees and that Policy Committee members might be asked to fund their own expenses. Once the specifics of the Program are agreed upon, an economic modeling task group will be assigned to examine how sufficient funds can be obtained and managed.


The working group will prepare recommendations on the following issues and others, as deemed necessary.
  1. The composition of the Policy and Steering Committees.
  2. Meeting needs and structure.
  3. The role of the Operations Committees in establishing task forces.
  4. A combined strategic plan.
  5. Immediate representation from CONSER to the PCC Standing Committees (prior to mid-winter ALA).
  6. An advisory structure, to include the CONSER liaisons.
  7. Defined roles and lines of communication between the operations groups and standing committees.
Other larger issues that could not be addressed at the meeting will be addressed over the coming year. These include:
  1. The relationship of the Program to the non-library community.
  2. How to involve user input.
  3. International involvement in the Program.
  4. A possible seminar to kick off the new Program.

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The following were discussed prior to and following the discussion on the PCC/CONSER convergence on Thursday, Nov. 14th, and are grouped here for convenience.

REPORT OF THE CONSER COORDINATOR. Jean Hirons (LC) reported that the CONSER database now contains over 780,000 records and that while new authentications are down by 5%, maintenance activity rose by 9%. She outlined the activities of the Conferences and AACR Review Task Forces and noted that some action is beginning to take place on batchloading. She also reported that the next CONSER Operations meeting is set to be held during the last week in May at the University of Michigan, in conjunction with the meeting of the North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG). One of the primary activities that Bill Anderson and others in CONSER have been involved in is producing a new module on newspapers for the CONSER Cataloging Manual, which replaces the manual used by members of the U.S. Newspaper Program.

BATCHLOADING. Liz Bishoff (OCLC) reported that OCLC staff will begin the analysis in December to determine how new CONSER records can be contributed via batchload. Harvard and NLM will serve as the test cites. A survey is needed in early winter to determine others who may be interested. Bishoff also reported that members will be reimbursed retroactively for telecommunications credits that were not given to institutions when they switched to a TLP connection.

ACTION: Survey members for interest in batchload capability.

ELECTRONIC RESOURCES TASK FORCE. It was agreed that we should follow the suggestion of the chair, Regina Reynolds (LC), disband the group. They are to be commended for all that they have accomplished.

ACTION: Hirons will draft a letter for the chair to send to the task force.

CONSER INTERIM GUIDELINES FOR ONLINE VERSIONS. Hirons noted that this issue will need more attention during the spring and hopes that we can develop guidelines for situations in which the one- record approach is appropriate. CONSER will also be participating in a discussion of the topic at the NASIG meeting. The PCC Standing Committee on Standards may want to consider how and if this might be used for monographs. There was general agreement that the guidelines, as they stand, are usable and flexible and have been well-received.

CIC and JSTOR. Bill Gosling (University of Michigan) reported that CIC is archiving titles that have been selected for the project but that the records are pointing to the location of the original. He expects the collection to grow to over 300 titles in the next few months. Gosling also reported that the JSTOR project is moving rapidly and a pricing structure is now in place.

OCLC PROJECT. Bishoff then noted that OCLC will be managing a collection of electronic journals that could include up to 500 titles that libraries could purchase as sets. She asked whether CONSER libraries might want to provide the cataloging. This could be similar to a master microform project.

ACTION: Hirons will discuss further with Bishoff.

The Thursday meeting ended with a thanks to Sue Phillips for her leadership during the past two years. On Friday, representatives thanked Sarah Thomas (who concluded her term as chair on Nov. 13th) for her leadership in establishing the PCC and carrying it to this point.

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