PCC Policy Committee Meeting
November 1-2, 2007
Report of the SACO Representative
The November 2007 meeting of the PCC Policy Committee was the first which included a designated representative from SACO. The following notes are not a comprehensive account of the meeting, but rather are intended to touch on some of the matters discussed, from the perspective of a SACO participant.
Discussion: WorldCat Local & Network-Level Catalog (Steve Shadle, University of Washington)
Steve Shadle led a discussion prompted by the University of Washington's current investigation of OCLC's WorldCat Local (WCL), as a potential primary end-user interface to the library collection. The discussion was seeded by a message to "Big Heads" from William Jordan, Associate Dean of the UW Libraries. WCL has the potential of reducing the number of content and delivery "silos" among which UW users must choose: at present, it is configured to search the UW union catalog, the Orbis Cascade Alliance union catalog (known as Summit), and several article databases available via FirstSearch. Searches in WCL present results in the following order: UW local holdings, union catalog resources, FirstSearch results.
Multiple questions arise when considering long-term adoption of WCL as the primary search and discovery environment, many of which are linked to local maintenance and enhancement of records. If WCL is to become the "database of record," much discussion and experimentation will be needed to implement the concept of "network-level cataloging" in OCLC, beyond what is now possible for the majority of OCLC member libraries. Among the many desired functions are global update tools similar to those available in local systems; a more open process for obtaining Enhance status; "a conflict resolution process to avoid edit wars;" an edit history, with potential for reversion, for bibliographic records; and implementation of full authority control in OCLC. Jordan notes that "There are technical, political, and cultural hurdles to overcome, but the potential benefits in moving to a shared bibliographic services environment are substantial. We can leverage the work being done by technical services staff at libraries around the world, and we can all benefit from each others' contributions to our common enterprise."
SACO participants will understand immediately that it would be most useful to be able to share our local work on subject analysis and classification to a greater extent than is currently possible. With subject headings in particular, we often encounter situations where the headings on an existing record, while not "wrong", are in need of sharper focus either through the addition of subdivisions or through providing additional headings reflecting different perspectives on what is being cataloged. The same situation exists, perhaps to a lesser extent, with genre headings. Additionally, as classification continues its gradual liberation from only serving shelf order, the ability to provide alternative classification numbers within the same scheme would also be of benefit. These benefits would be gained regardless of whether WCL is adopted as a primary user environment. In cases where WCL is so adopted, there is presently the risk that local work on classification and subject analysis, done with care in the service of a library's own user base, would be simply obliterated without expanded abilities to share our work at the network level.
Policy Committee Decisions/Updates
- Individual CONSER Membership Proposal: Les Hawkins
Les Hawkins, CONSER Coordinator, reported on an experiment in progress, in which a CONSER cataloger has taken a job at another institution. The new institution is not itself a CONSER member, but the cataloger is eager to continue CONSER contributions, and his employer is also enthusiastic. This pilot project, in which an individual rather than an institution is certified for CONSER contributions, has been a success so far, but there are many questions which must be addressed before this practice is expanded. These include:
- What minimum requirements would be required for becoming an individual member (such as some number of months' experience, or a number of records already contributed from a previous CONSER institution)?
- How will individual membership "rights and responsibilities" be spelled out in the PCC governance document?
- How should contribution levels (statistics on authentications and maintenance) be set for individuals?
- How would the individual's authority work, which would be done through the institution's authorization, be counted for NACO?
Individual "certification" for SACO participation is not currently under discussion, but it may be worth considering whether or not there could be a useful parallel. As it stands, institutions which propose SACO-only participation must state that they are able to commit sufficient resources to meet at least the minimum contribution of approximately a dozen proposals per year. Would a SACO-only individual cataloger be required to meet the same minimum contribution, and would there be any effective difference in the nature of the institution's commitment in this case? How would an individual's appropriate background knowledge and experience be demonstrated? In other respects, individual SACO membership would likely be simpler than is the case with CONSER, as the single critical activity is the contribution of LCSH and/or LCC proposals.
- PCC Task Group on the Internationalization of Authority Files: Barbara Tillett
This Task Group has been formed within the larger context of work toward greater internationalization of the PCC generally. The Task Group is charged to "investigate the feasibility of designing a model for international participation in a global authority file [and to] [a]ssess and document the implications for such an endeavor, including costs and PCC governance policies." This initiative envisages the development of additional regional or national authority files based on the NACO model, and implies linkages among these files through a system like the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) now in development. To begin with, this project would focus on personal and geographic names, with a planned expansion to corporate names and uniform titles. It is not planned, at present, to expand this project to encompass subject data. The entities involved in subject analysis and classification are different in nature from those coming under name/title authority control, necessitating different kinds of linkage mechanisms among subject headings systems/thesauri and classification schemes.
Carolyn Sturtevant (Library of Congress) provided a statistical report of the numbers of institutions taking part in PCC programs. The number of SACO-contributing institutions has increased between FY2006 and FY2007, with 114 participating institutions at the end of FY2007, as compared with 100 at the end of the previous year. Of these, there are 42 BIBCO/CONSER institutions, 28 NACO individual institutions, 16 NACO funnel institutions, 21 SACO individual institutions, and 7 SACO funnel institutions. Most of these individual numbers have also increased from the previous fiscal year, and none have decreased. It was noted that the popular course on subject cataloging using LCSH, taught frequently by John Mitchell and Paul Frank of LC, have helped to increase the number of SACO institutions.
Although not included in this report, SACO participants may be interested to know that during FY2007, SACO member institutions contributed 3,047 new Library of Congress Subject Headings and 2,214 new Library of Congress Classification numbers. The comparable numbers for FY2006 are 3,619 new LCSH and 2,089 new LCC (source: LC Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access Directorate Fiscal 2007 Report
Report of the PCC Standing Committee on Training
Carolyn Miller, Chair of the SCT, reported that the course on Library of Congress Classification, jointly prepared by the SCT and the ALCTS CCS Subject Analysis Committee, was presented at LC late in October and was well received. The course is now available for purchase from the Cataloging Distribution Service, and it completes the suite of jointly developed PCC/ALCTS CCS courses, the first of which was Basic Subject Cataloging Using LCSH. John Mitchell noted that revisions to the latter course have been completed, and the revised materials will be available later in 2007.
Levin Library, Curry College