Summary of the meeting
Marjorie Bloss (CRL), chair of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging, and Jean Hirons (LC), CONSER Coordinator, welcomed the group and Hirons noted the growing number of new faces, including SCCTP trainers, pattern project participants, and other interested in CONSER. This year's meeting also had more international participation, including representatives from the national libraries of Wales and Australia, and Cambridge University. In all, 60 people from 43 different institutions attended.
Hirons also reported encouraging progress for seriality-related changes in AACR2 chapter 12, as proposed in "Revising AACR2 to Accommodate Seriality". Comments are still being prepared and will continue to be submitted until August 2000; but those seen so far mostly address details, organization, and presentation, while not seriously opposing major recommendations. The Joint Steering Committee will discuss the proposals and comments in September 2000. Approvals for some of the recommendations may come at that time. After that, in November, members of the AACR2, ISBD, and ISSN communities will meet at the Library of Congress to continue working on further issues related to harmonization of their serials cataloging practices.
Likewise, MARBI had a generally positive discussion of possible related changes in the MARC 21 bibliographic format, as presented in MARBI Discussion Paper No. 119, "Seriality and MARC 21". A proposal may be forthcoming as soon as the 2001 Midwinter Meeting.
Jeanne Baker (University of Maryland) reported that only a small number of institutions, including Yale University and University of California at Northridge, have tried loading record sets from the aggregator initiative into their local systems; but the loading was successful in the places that tried. Ongoing work should provide more record sets for additional aggregators.
The publication pattern experiment passed a significant milestone in June 2000, when use of OCLC bibliographic field 891 to share publication pattern and holdings data was implemented. Sally Sinn (NAL) told the meeting that OCLC record #35601086, for Heart failure reviews, was the first CONSER record in which 891 fields with such data were loaded. The data were subsequently copied and pasted successfully into New York University Medical Library's local system. At the request of PCC, the task force leading this initiative will continue recording and reporting milestones of this effort, so that all interested can track its progress. For now, the initiative is most interested in more participants adding 891 data in OCLC/CONSER records. Seed data from more than 150,000 Harvard University records will be added in the near future. Many system vendors replied to a survey concerning their systems' use (or non-use) of MARC Format for Holdings Data; their responses are being analyzed and will be reported. During the experimental period, the initiative's task force will try to keep statistics on addition and maintenance of 891 data. At such time as the effort becomes an operational program, there will also be studies of effects on workflows, best practices, and other related issues.
The Serials Cooperative Cataloging Training Program continues to flourish and grow. More than forty workshops based on the SCCTP Basic Serials Cataloging course materials are scheduled so far in 2000. Comments on SCCTP training have been made available via the CONSER home page. The second SCCTP course, on serial holdings, is being prepared by Frieda Rosenberg (UNC-Chapel Hill) and Thom Saudargas (College Center for Library Automation) and will be tested at the University of Georgia later this year. A "Train the Trainer" session for it will be held before the ALA 2001 Midwinter Meeting in Washington, DC; and plans are for the course materials to be available in February 2001. Margaret Mering (University of Nebraska), Kristin Lindlan, and Steve Shadle (both of University of Washington) are working on an advanced serials cataloging course for SCCTP, which may be available in summer 2001.
Worldwide demand for CONSER documentation and training is great. A CONSER training session was conducted this year in Spanish in Mexico City. CONSER documentation is being translated into Chinese and a week of SCCTP-based training will be given in Taiwan in August 2000. Jean Hirons will soon do SCCTP and CONSER training at the National Library of Wales and Cambridge University, as well as other outreach in the United Kingdom. Hirons is the 2000 recipient of the Marcia Tuttle Memorial Award, which will help support this work.
A group has been formed to study issues related to maintenance of URLs in 856 fields of CONSER records. This effort follows from discussions started at the May 2000 CONSER Operations Committee meeting.
John Dorr has started work as the project director for the International Coalition on Newspapers (ICON), a cooperative effort addressing non-US newspapers with goals similar to those of the United States Newspaper Program (in which Dorr also had experience). ICON has received NEH grant funding for a pilot project in union listing and preservation microfilming. Founding participants and the first titles for microfilming have been identified. Training sessions for ICON program catalogers will be conducted in fall 2000.
Jean Hirons announced that CONSERline has changed to Web-only distribution. An ASCII-format version will no longer be disseminated by email, though announcements of issue releases may be sent that way. Future issues will be targeted to come out shortly after ALA Annual Conferences and Midwinter Meetings instead of before them, as in the past.
Regina Reynolds (NSDP) announced a unique collaboration between the R.R. Bowker Company and the Library of Congress that will add a Bowker employee to the National Serials Data Program staff in Washington, DC. The new, Bowker-supported NSDP staffer will make ISSN assignments and create Ulrich's listings for U.S. serials, with concentrations on electronic serials and special projects. A vacancy announcement for the position should appear soon.
Linking Serials and Monographs
David Van Hoy (MIT) and Adam Schiff (University of Washington) led a discussion exploring interest in and problems for use of linking entry fields to connect monograph and serial records. Format integration established this capability, and some institutions (e.g. NLC and University of Washington) have adopted policies for using it. The CONSER and BIBCO operations committees jointly discussed options in May 2000: some interest was identified in linking certain monograph and serial records; disinterest in linking others (e.g. monograph and serial records for conference proceedings after a change of treatment) was also established. Van Hoy and Schiff are pursuing the interest that was shown, trying for now to identify the major concerns people have regarding monograph-serial linking. CONSER At Large participants identified problematic logistics for adding links to both monograph and serial records as one such issue: What authorizations and other technical support are necessary to accomplish this linking? Who will be willing (or obliged) to do the record maintenance work involved? Those interested may email their comments and concerns to Van Hoy (firstname.lastname@example.org) or to Schiff (email@example.com).
Integrating Resources and CONSER/BIBCO Issues
Jean Hirons pointed out that implementation of more definite standards for cataloging integrating resources will bring re-examination of existing operations and questions about meeting emerging needs: Which units and staff will catalog which integrating resources in local workflows? Which cooperative programs will take responsibility for cataloging which integrating resources? For preparing related documentation? For related training? The split between monograph and serials catalogers in many institutions is seen as a major obstacle for this planning. At the program level, differences between the database and distribution principles for CONSER and BIBCO make sharing of integrating resources between the programs very difficult. Nevertheless, planning to address these decisions must involve the best minds of both programs.
Hirons closed the meeting by asking whether CONSER should reconsider its philosophy of membership to include more members in a variety of categories. Some comments indicated that CONSER should not relax its quality standards in order to admit members as broadly as the BIBCO Program has done. Hirons responded that there was no interest in doing that and that full CONSER members should probably continue to constitute a relatively small core group with responsibilities and expectations similar to now. Membership expansion could come primarily in other categories outside that core group. With the explosion of electronic resources, there is plenty of work to share, she said. One comment suggested there will be tension between getting all the records that are needed and defining different responsibilities for a small core group and for others. Incorporating more international CONSER members is a strong goal and harmonization efforts may make it possible for records not created according to non-AACR2 to be used and integrated into the CONSER database in some form. One question for the future is whether CONSER can accommodate authenticated records distributed among separate databases. Another might be how to migrate records between those different sources in order to maintain an approximately common database.