2002 /2003 ANNUAL REPORT
OF THE CONSER PROGRAM
Compiled by the Library of Congress
Serial Record Division, October 2003
2003 marked the 30th anniversary of CONSER and a year in which electronic serials once again dominated the attention of most CONSER discussion. CONSER catalogers implemented the seriality changes to AACR2, but the development of the "aggregator-neutral record" was the key topic on meeting agendas. Jean Hirons served as CONSER Coordinator, but took early retirement at the end of June. Les Hawkins continued as CONSER Specialist.
Program membership continued to grow. Cooperative Computer Services, a group of public libraries from the North Chicago area, joined as an associate member and as CONSER's first real funnel. Four new Enhance members joined: National University (San Diego, Ca.), Tulane University, University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Library System and Oregon State University.
The CONSER database grew to 1,004,788 records, with the addition of approximately 27,000 new records.
Significant additions and deletions to the CONSER database also occurred. Thanks to the efforts of Hoda Fateen (Library of Congress), Arabic vernacular data was introduced to CONSER records during the spring of 2003 by LC catalogers in its Cairo office. The data is created with use of OCLC software and with the help of documentation developed by Fateen, others in CONSER will begin adding vernacular data to CONSER records. 2003 also marked the removal of much of the data that had been added almost twenty years ago by the CONSER Abstracting and Indexing Coverage Project. Based on recommendations from Hirons, and with the approval of the PCC Policy Committee, the 510 fields containing abstracting and indexing data were removed by OCLC during the winter of 2003. The removal was due to the fact that the data has never been maintained. However, 510 fields currently maintained by Chemical Abstracts were retained in the records.
Despite SARS and a smaller number of participants, CONSER happily celebrated its 30th anniversary in Toronto, Canada, the place where it began. It was thirty years ago that the so-called "Toronto Group" met to discuss the idea of CONSER. At the PCC Participants meeting, Elizabeth McKeen of the Library and Archives of Canada reminisced on the history of CONSER through Canadian eyes and spoke to CONSER's importance in spreading Canadian thought and literature. Carol Baker, University of Calgary, spoke on her experiences as an SCCTP trainer in Canada. Jean Hirons presented her thoughts on the future of the program and how the strengths of the past will lead CONSER into the future. Three consecutive SCCTP sessions were held as ALCTS preconferences in honor of the anniversary and commemorative robotic calculators were received by all.
The Library of Congress and other CONSER libraries implemented the seriality-related changes to AACR2 on December 2, 2002. Training was held at LC and other CONSER libraries, and the LC training sessions were video-taped for widespread availability. After the many years of discussion and preparation, the implementation was a quiet event, followed several weeks later by a flurry of messages on CONSERLST concerning what constituted a major title change. The new rules for integrating resources and the title change rules were the most significant changes and received the most attention overall. New documentation and training materials for integrating resources were prepared and issued during the year. While OCLC made some of the MARC 21 changes available by December, the new code 'i' in the record leader for integrating resources was not available and won't be for some years. This has complicated the issue of authentication and distribution of records, which will require further discussion.
CONSER defined the "aggregator-neutral record" at the annual meeting of the CONSER Operations Committee in May following nine months of discussion. A proposal regarding the records' contents was prepared during the fall, based on results of a survey conducted in summer 2002. Various task groups were established that would recommend record content, how to handle existing records in the database, and the education of aggregators. At the CONSER At Large meeting in January, participants commented on a set of assumptions developed by the PCC 3rd Task Force on Journals in Aggregations that broadened the original proposal to make all aggregations eligible for CONSER control, such as large databases like ProQuest and Lexis-Nexis. However, CONSER catalogers rejected this proposal at the May meeting and agreed only to catalog titles in full-text collections that included the entire serial. Robert Bremer (OCLC) led the task force that prepared recommendations on data elements for the record, as well as recommending ways in which to clean up existing records. The resulting record will include only information relevant to all aggregations, with the exception of URLs for aggregations that contain the complete serial. Instructions were added to the CONSER Web site and will be documented in the CONSER Cataloging Manual.
The changes taking place in the electronic serials environment also led the PCC Steering Committee to approve a proposal from Hirons for a CONSER summit to be held in March 2004 that would bring together members of the serials industry and librarians to discuss future directions for CONSER. Hirons will serve as the consultant for the summit.
The fifth SCCTP course, Integrating Resources Cataloging Workshop, was completed by Steven Jack Miller (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), with help from Rhonda Lawrence (UCLA), and debuted at ALA/CLA. The course includes the new rules for cataloging both electronic and print integrating resources and has been well-received. It has also been translated into Spanish, with sessions given in Mexico and Puerto Rico.
At ALA annual, Hirons recognized three persons who have contributed significantly to SCCTP and a certificate of appreciation was sent to a fourth who could not be there. The four are Ann Ercelawn (Vanderbilt), Steve Shadle (University of Washington), Trina Grover (Ryerson University), and Lisa Furubotten (Texas A&M). Ercelawn and Shadle were key players in the early development of SCCTP and are highly regarded trainers. Grover was recognized for her efforts in involving Canadians by organizing train-the-trainers sessions in Canada, and Furubotten for her work in translating course materials and presenting workshops in Mexico and other Latin American countries.
A survey was conducted in the spring to assess the effectiveness of SCCTP courses on job performance. Both trainees and their supervisors were polled. While response from trainees was excellent, only ten supervisors responded; however, their comments were very helpful. The success of in-person workshops was reinforced and many suggested useful ways of continuing the learning experience, such as a discussion list, Web-based exercises, or mentoring.
Carlin Ruschoff (University of Maryland) served as the chair of the Publication Pattern Task Force. Four institutions joined the initiative: Pennsylvania State University, Ohio State University, the Detroit Law Library at Michigan State University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Statistics for the year are as follows: 2561 new patterns added, 187 subsequent patterns added, and 758 patterns modified.
Four task groups were active during the year, exploring various aspects of the future of publication patterns and holdings. Yumin Jiang (University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Library System) leads a task force that is exploring the potential uses of patterns for electronic serials. The group sent out a survey during the spring. One third of the respondents felt that pattern information, or more detailed holdings would be useful, but others responded that creating the data would be too costly and time-consuming without reaping sufficient benefits. The group will continue to monitor developments.
Beth Jedlicka (University of Georgia) worked with Jennifer O'Connell (EBSCO) and others to determine whether information gathered by EBSCO would be sufficient to establish new patterns. After a study of the data, the group reported that it is insufficient and not reliable enough to be the basis for new patterns. Many of the changes reported are frequency changes, but the information comes from the publishers some months in advance and the changes don't always occur.
Diane Hillmann and others are investigating the creation of a "publication history" record or data set that might reside within the bibliographic record or linked to it in some way. Potential uses for OpenURL and link resolvers as well as digital preservation have been identified.
Linda Miller (Library of Congress) heads a task force on long-term storage of pattern data.
Jean Hirons coordinated a group working on membership-related issues. The group spent most of their time discussing potential changes to the CONSER Enhance and Associate membership levels and will submit recommendations to the PCC Policy Committee in November.
Everett Allgood (New York University) and Ed Jones (National University) co-chaired the CONSER Task Force on FRBR and Continuing Resources. The group met at both meetings of ALA and in June developed a list of desired outcomes that would be the result of the application of FRBR to records for continuing resources. The group will test out the list against the current FRBR model on a variety of serials.
Hirons and Sue Fuller (University of Texas at Austin) attended the annual Transborder Library Forum, or "FORO", held at Texas A&M University in March 2003. They participated in a serials session in which Mexican librarians learned about CONSER and Americans learned about three major Mexican serial databases. Potential participation in CONSER is a desired outcome.
Regina Reynolds spoke on CONSER and the ISSN at IFLA in Berlin in August 2003.
Ron Watson, a long-time CONSER cataloger and serials enthusiast from UCLA, quietly retired in January. Ron's career mirrored that of CONSER's and he often served as the conscience of the Program, asking the difficult questions. He had been affectionately dubbed "Uncle CONSER."
Jean Hirons announced her early retirement from the Library of Congress in March and retired at the end of June in order to pursue a career in art. Hirons' career in CONSER focused on documentation and training-most notably the CONSER Editing Guide, CONSER Cataloging Manual, and development of the Serials Cataloging Cooperative Training Program. She also led the revision of AACR2 for changes related to seriality and led CONSER during a decade of profound changes in serials due to the emergence of electronic journals. A celebratory dinner was held at the CONSER Operations Committee meeting in May.
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