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Bicentennial Conference  on 
        Bibliographic Control for the New Millenium: Confronting the Challenges of Networked 
        Resources and the Web
sponsored by the Library of Congress Cataloging Directorate
Topical Discussion Group 3a:
What Near-Term Cooperative Partnerships Should Libraries Explore in the Digital World?
Discussion Facilitator:
Larry Alford
Deputy University Librarian
Davis Library
CB 3900
Chapel Hill, NC 27514-8890

The Conference topical discussion groups are for the purpose of identifying recommendations made by the speakers and commentators in their presentations and for developing recommended actions and an overall action plan for discussion and approval by the Conference in its concluding plenary session. Each topical discussion group consists of a facilitator who, with a designated number of participants, is assigned a specific topic related to the presentations that will serve as the focal point for identifying recommendations and deriving recommended actions and an overall action plan. Each group will also have an LC staff member to take notes and capture highlights throughout the discussion.

In a few cases, topics for the topical discussion groups are assigned to address near-term and long-term directions. We have defined "near-term" to be a recommendation of an action that is "doable" in the range of 12 to 18 months, and "long-term" to be recommendations or actions accomplished within 2 to 5 years. These definitions have been applied to this topic, which will involve one topical discussion group addressing near-term directions and a second topical discussion group addressing long-term directions.


Academic and research libraries have a distinguished history of leadership in the creation of cooperative partnerships aimed at making their collections widely available and accessible to scholars and researchers. These partnerships range from card-based union catalogs to today's WebPACs, and include a large and broad range of successful collaborative efforts such as the Name Authority Cooperative Project (NACO), Subject Authority Cooperative Project (SACO), Cooperative Online Serials Program (CONSER), and the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC), to name just a few. This leadership continues today, but still remains largely focused on the physical collections that are associated with these libraries, such as books, journals, maps, and the like. With the introduction and development of the Web within this last decade, these libraries have witnessed a sea change: enormous amounts of networked resources have been published and made available; and, perhaps of greater significance, important research material is increasingly being mounted and delivered via global networks. Given this belated recognition of the growing centrality of the Web, how do these libraries catch up? How, for instance, can they extend the kinds of cooperative efforts they developed for the bibliographic control of print materials to networked resources on the Web? In the conference papers on the topic of "Exploring Partnerships," Michael Kaplan explores the role of libraries as partners with vendors in bringing Web resources under bibliographic control, while Regina Reynolds examines the potential partnerships of libraries with publishers in using publisher-supplied metadata to create catalog records. In the National Academy of Sciences report: LC21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress (, it notes the current transition to digital content calls for "extraordinary, unprecedented collaboration and coordination." Although directed to LC, it has implications for other research libraries who might become LC's collaborators. It is also noteworthy that the report envisions collaboration throughout all areas of library work and activities. In addition to bibliographic control efforts, it cites the building of digital collections, digital preservation, and the management of skilled professional and technical staff. Among potential partners mentioned are other libraries, publishers, consortia, the metadata community, and commercial service providers.


In this assignment, we are asking you to develop a prioritized list of 4-6 recommended cooperative partnerships that academic, research, and national libraries could undertake in the near-term (12-18 months) to address some of the many pressing issues surrounding the bibliographic control of scholarly resources on the Web. There is one exception, cooperative partnerships relating to the development of metadata standards are covered in Topical discussion group 8. We believe this list would provide some much needed guidance for library administrators, and particularly for technical services administrators who, though committed to organizing and providing intellectual access to these resources, lack the extensive human and monetary resources to undertake them singly.


Your topical discussion group is organized into two parts to cover the two Conference days in which you meet.

  1. The first meeting is in the afternoon of Day 2 of the Conference. The objective of this meeting is to have you brainstorm your topic by sharing your thoughts and ideas in an informal discussion. Your facilitator will serve to direct the discussion and to keep it focused and moving. An LC staff member will be present to record major points of discussion.

    Follow the lead of your facilitator in determining the format of the discussion. Then start by identifying any suggestions or recommendations offered by the speakers, commentators, and participants on your topic. In addition to the papers presented by Michael Kaplan and Regina Reynolds, was there any discussion or mention of cooperative partnerships--general or specific--in any of the other plenary sessions? Next, move on to identify possible new and creative partnerships that academic, research, and national libraries could undertake and complete in the near-term. Discuss the purpose and goals of these projects and the strategies needed to initiate, implement, and complete them. Consider any work or administrative experience you may have had in this area. By close of the meeting, you should have an extended list of partnerships and strategies to review on the following Day 3 of the Conference.

  2. The second meeting begins in the morning of Day 3 with the facilitator and LC recorder present. Time spent at this meeting is focused on reviewing the list of near-term cooperative partnerships drafted in the first meeting and extracting from it a list of 4-6 recommended partnerships and strategies arranged in priority order. In the course of determining this list, consider these questions:

    1. Does the list identify specific partnerships that libraries could easily or readily initiate and complete in 12-18 months?

    2. What are the purpose and goals of these partnerships?

    3. What steps must be taken to initiate and implement them?

    4. Who are the people, organizations, or groups involved?

    5. What are the possible benefits that will accrue academic and research libraries from these cooperative efforts?

Once you have finalized the prioritized list of criteria, the LC recorder will input it to a computer and a Powerpoint presentation will be created for your facilitator to present to conferees.

Presentation and Action Plan:

Your facilitator will present the prioritized list of near-term cooperative partnerships and strategies for discussion and approval in the closing session of the conference. Conferees will use this list along with the prioritized recommendations presented by the facilitators of the other topical discussion groups to develop an overall action plan that the Library of Congress can carry forward from the Conference.

Library of Congress
October 22, 2000
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