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Compiled by the Library of Congress
Serial Record Division, Sept. 2005


The CONSER Program’s activities in 2004–2005 continued to focus on its central missions of cooperatively building and maintaining the CONSER database, providing serial cataloging training for catalogers, and affording leadership in the serials information community.

The number of records in the CONSER file increased by 2.6% to 1, 064, 238, with the addition of over 27,000 records in FY 2005. This is somewhat less than the 3% increase we saw in FY 2004 (source: CDS MARC serials distribution statistics, FY 2005, FY 2004). The overall number of record transactions reported by institutions decreased by about 14% in FY 2005. The largest decrease was in the number of maintenance transactions, which showed a decrease of 20% from FY 2004 institution reported maintenance transactions.

Highlights of the year include the addition of two new members, Michigan State University and Connecticut State Library. CONSER discussion of LC copy cataloging guidelines and related discussions on the need to review existing cataloging levels for serials were a part of the rational for pursuing the access level record for serials. The opportunity for SCCTP to participate in the Cataloger’s Learning Workshop and making progress toward piloting distance learning formats are important for widening the availability of training opportunities. Members of the Publication Patterns Initiative made further progress in exploring the Publication history record and in promoting a pilot test of the ONIX for serials, Serials Release Notification format (SRN). CONSER’s response on the draft of AACR3 helped shape the PCC comments to CC:DA.

At the CONSER Operations meeting and other venues this year, members discussed the importance of the ISSN in CONSER records and the systems that rely on CONSER records such as openURL resolvers and electronic resource management systems. Members discussed ideas for making refinements to guidelines for the aggregator neutral record and considered new approaches for providing bibliographic access to serials through the access level record, FRBR, and the idea of the super record to display publication history for serials. I am grateful to all who have volunteered to train and mentor new members, work on CONSER task forces, and respond to calls for comments on the many issues we've faced this year.


Michigan State University (MSU) Libraries joined the program as an associate level CONSER participant. MSU, an independent NACO participant, has a strong serials cataloging program with collection focuses in Africana (English and French), international documents, agricultural works, and electronic serials. MSU's CONSER Operations Committee representative, Wen-ying Lu and MSU cataloger, Jim Latchney, have been working with James Castrataro from the University of Indiana.

Connecticut State Library (CSL) joined CONSER as an associate level member. Stephen Slovasky, unit head of bibliographic information services and Glynis Georgie, state documents cataloger, will oversee CSL's CONSER contributions. Connecticut State Library has collection strengths in Connecticut state documents, U.S. government publications, law and policy serials, historical and genealogical serials. The library also will contribute records for electronic resources as a part of its work with several cooperative digital archiving and preservation projects. LC cataloger Rick Fitzgerald is providing training and review for CSL.

New York University Law Library applied for membership last year at the enhance level, just before enhance to associate level changes were implemented and training was delayed. George Prager is NYU Law's CONSER Operations Representative and began training in April 2005 at the associate level. Foster Reding (LC, Serial Record Division) is providing training.

Kristie Muldrow (LC) and Steven Early (CRL) volunteered to work with Cooperative Computer Services.

Cataloging standards

CONSER and other PCC members discussed the implementation of LC Serial Record Division’s new workflow for the copy cataloging of serials throughout the fiscal year. LC announced the new workflow in September 2004, Under the new policy, cataloging technicians perform all copy cataloging for Roman language serials. The technicians are working with unauthenticated as well as authenticated OCLC records. Formerly, the only records handled by technicians for copy cataloging were records that were already authenticated by another CONSER library.

It was unclear to members whether these records meet existing standards. Members were unsure of what elements to expect in the records, how problems found in copy would be handled, and the implementation timeframe. CONSER members expressed concern that they were not involved earlier on in the decision making process; such a decision has an impact on the content of the shared CONSER database.

In the spring of 2005, a group of CONSER members including LC and representatives from OCLC and RLG was organized to look into the issues surrounding LC's implementation of copy cataloging guidelines. The group began to examine a sample of the 976 records to determine 1) how well they provide access to the resource; 2) what can be recommended for documenting the standards by which they are created; and, 3) make other recommendations about copy cataloging to CONSER. Though the examination of the sample was not completed during the fiscal year, some initial observations were made. For the most part the records met an acceptable level of internal consistency, appropriateness of changes, completeness of authority work, and appropriateness of subject headings. But there were some records that seemed inconsistent with the practices outlined in LC's copy cataloging procedures, which prompted the group to ask questions about how catalogers and technicians are applying the procedures. What would the records look like if the procedures were being strictly applied? Would they meet the same level of high quality? Some records appeared to show such extensive recataloging, that they could have been coded as full level LC records.

During discussion of LC copy cataloging at the CONSER Operations Meeting in May, some members questioned the need for a separate CONSER standard for copy cataloging, others felt that an additional standard was needed. Some members felt PCC minimal, core, and full levels should be reconsidered; there was a suggestion that we have just one CONSER standard, where the record must meet a basic level and it is OK to do more.

One outgrowth of this discussion was the development of a collaborative pilot project between the LC Serial Record Division and other CONSER member libraries co-chaired by Regina Reynolds (LC) and Diane Boehr of the National Library of Medicine. The pilot will develop and test an access level record for serials based on FRBR user tasks. The records created during this project will be evaluated in terms of cataloging costs and how well the records meet end user and library processing needs. If successful, a recommendation will be made to PCC to establish the access level record as the new standard for serials.

From AACR3 to Resource, Description, and Access

The draft of AACR3 Part 1 was made available to CC:DA in mid-December 2004 and CONSER members made significant contributions to the PCC review of the draft. Kristin Lindlan (University of Washington), a CONSER representative and member of CC:DA produced a summary of comments from a quickly formed group of CONSER members. The PCC liaison to CC:DA, Paul Weiss (University of California, San Diego), gathered comments from members of the PCC Standing Committee on Standards. Carolyn Sturtevant, BIBCO Coordinator, compiled comments from BIBCO members. Paul Weiss compiled and submitted these PCC comments to CC:DA.

During the CONSER Operations meeting in May, Dr. Barbara Tillett (Cataloging Support and Policy Office Chief, LC), LC representative to the Joint Steering Committee for Revision of Anglo-American Cataloging Rules (JSC), presented an update on the April 24-28, 2005 JSC meeting held in Chicago. The JSC reviewed responses to the draft of AACR3 Part 1 and decided that while a new edition of the rules is the best way to achieve its strategic goals, a new approach was needed. A new working title was chosen: “Resource Description and Access” (RDA). RDA will be aligned more directly with FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records) and FRAR (Functional Requirements for Authority Records) models. Instructions for recording data will be presented independently of guidelines for data presentation, and the layout and formatting of instructions will be more “user-friendly.”

CONSER will be working with other members of the PCC in commenting on future drafts of RDA as part of CC:DA constituency review throughout 2006 and 2007.

Serials Cataloging Cooperative Training Program (SCCTP)

From Oct. 2004 to Sept. 2005, trainers in the Serials Cataloging Cooperative Training Program (SCCTP) taught 64 workshops. Over twenty different organizations sponsored and organized these workshops. Sponsors included utility network training programs, library associations, library interest groups, consortia as well as university libraries. SCCTP workshops continue to enjoy strong demand and serve as a practical source of serials cataloging training in the serials community.

During the year, SCCTP joined other cooperative training initiatives under the umbrella of the Cataloger’s Learning Workshop (CLW). CLW is a clearinghouse portal for cataloging and other metadata training resources for information workers. The CLW editorial board provides editorial oversight of material produced by the participating programs: SCCTP, Cooperative Cataloging Training, and Cataloging for the 21st Century. CLW is developing guidelines to provide more consistency in training materials created and distributed by component programs and hopes to enhance communication among course developers, revisers, distributor, and instructors. The SCCTP public Web site and the Trainer Resources Web site are also being modified to provide more useful information about the scheduled workshops, manuals updates, and to hold a sampling of recent workshop reports.

SCCTP held two meetings with trainers and workshop sponsors at ALA conferences in Jan. and June 2005. Both meetings were well attended resulting in many good suggestions for ways to provide more support to trainers and to improve or expand training materials to help the program grow. Many of these suggestions have been incorporated into the recent revised SCCTP manuals and in the guidelines for authors and editors set by the CLW editorial team. All attendees at these meetings expressed interest in having SCCTP meetings on a regular basis. In response to this interest, future formal and informal meetings are being be planned for ALA and NASIG. To address issues relating the network sponsors, status of the program, trainers can meet to exchange experience/ideas and as a way to provide continuing support for each other.

Distance Learning

SCCTP has been looking to become involved with Web-based courses for several years now. Catalogers and course developers have expressed interest in developing them from existing SCCTP workshop material. A study on SCCTP and distance learning done by Jean Hirons in 2003 identified some possibilities and made several recommendations on how to proceed. The topic was again brought up for discussion at the SCCTP meeting at 2005 ALA midwinter where several good suggestions were made. Laura Kimberly (Amigos), and Steve Miller (Univ. of Wisconsin--Milwaukee Libraries) have expressed interest in developing pilot distance learning workshops.

The PCC Standing Committee on Training Task Group on Online Training has been re-constituted and work is underway to explore strategies for the development of PCC online training initiatives. The group's charge outlines a two-phased schedule with work on Phase I completed by summer 2005 and the final report (for Phase II) completed by June 2006. In the mean time, some NACO instruction has already been using online training to support post-classroom training discussions. To increase our understanding of online learning technology and to keep all interested persons up to date of various online learning efforts within PCC, a joint PCC trainers (SCCTP, NACO, BIBCO) meeting is being planned for ALA 2006 Midwinter.

Publication Pattern Initiative

The Publication History Task Group completed its final report and recommendations in spring of 2005, available from: external link. Throughout the group’s existence, it moved well beyond its original charge. Frieda Rosenberg’s work on developing concepts of the super record as a way to show publication history was particularly influential. This approach to showing bibliographic families of serials relies on existing linking fields in bibliographic records. The super record could be an actual record that pulls together all related records or could be a virtual construct with a display that meaningfully ties together a publication’s relationships.

The group’s final recommendations to CONSER include:

  1. Explore the decision process for determining how the FRBR work record will be implemented.
  2. Appoint a new group to explore the practical issues of implementing the super record approach
  3. Provide a forum to discuss issues surrounding the exchange of serials data with publishers, PAMS, subscription agents, aggregators in using the publication history record as a trustworthy source of pattern data

Vendors, publishers, and librarians gathered at two ALA meetings during 2005 to discuss the pilot of the ONIX for Serials, Serials Release Notification format (SRN). Linda Miller, member of the SRN subgroup of the NISO/EDItEUR Joint Working Party (JWP) and chair of the CONSER Task Force on Long Term Storage of Publication Pattern and Holdings Data convened the meetings. The pilot will be led by the SRN subgroup, the meetings at ALA were helpful in spreading the news about the pilot and to brainstorm on ideas about how serials release data can be shared and used.

Vol. 31, no. 2 (June 2005) of Serials Review contained three articles related to the Initiative activities and concerns. Jian Wang and Bonnie Parks published: Serial Conversations: An Interview with Diane Hillmann and Frieda Rosenberg. Paul Moeller and Wen-ying Lu published the results of their survey: MARC 21 Format for Serials Holdings: A Survey on the Acceptance and Use of Standards. Ann S. Doyle provided a summary of the ALCTS 2005 ALA midwinter program "Codified Innovations: Data Standards and their useful applications" which featured several Initiative members and touched on many of the concerns of the project.

Operations Meeting

The joint BIBCO/CONSER Operations meeting in May included an update of work done on the PCC Vision and Mission by PCC Chair Roxanne Sellberg and PCC Chair Emeritus Carlen Ruschoff. The two led a discussion that resulted in some modifications of a draft statement composed by the PCC task group on the vision and mission statement.

Other topics presented at the CONSER Operations meeting included a demonstration of the ISSN request Web submission form. The form was designed by LC's Network Development Office to allow CONSER members to submit requests for ISSN that do not have U.S. ISSN assignments. Members have been submitting requests to NSDP since the form was put into place this summer and have appreciated the expedited handling of their requests.

The final report of the PCC Linking Entry Task Group was presented with discussion of some of the recommendations for CONSER practices in making links to related records. Discussion of the repeatable 260 field resulted in a PCC task force being formed to produce guidelines before repeatability of this field is implemented by the utilities. An update on the Task Group on Openurl was presented and preliminary results of a study of URLs on CONSER records were presented.

There were discussions on discrepancies between series authority records and bibliographic records, guidelines for using the print record as the basis of description for an e-serial, and recommendations from the Publication History task force. A full summary of the operations meeting is available from

CONSER Documentation

The SCCTP Integrating Resources, Basic Serials, and Advanced Serials workshops were revised in FY 2005 to reflect changes in the 2004 Update to the 2002 AACR2 and included other changes and corrections. The Evaluation form has been changed in format and moved to the last appendix in each trainee manual to make it easier for trainees to find. The CONSER Cataloging Manual (CCM) update 2 was completed in Dec. 2004 and distributed in spring of 2005. Many helped in the continuous efforts to keep these working manuals up to date. Special thanks to all the catalogers and trainers who send suggestions, corrections, change requests all year long, as well as to those who helped review the final draft.


Jennifer Edwards (MIT) assumed CONSER activities at MIT after David Van Hoy's retirement.

Tina Shrader is the new CONSER coordinator at the National Agricultural Library.

Jennifer K. Davis is the new coordinator of CONSER work at GPO.

CONSER Member Reports

Appendices A: Current members B: Current task groups C: Publication patterns statistics

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