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The Library of Congress > Cataloging, Acquisitions > PCC > SACO > Northern New England Subject Funnel Project (SACO-At-Large Summary 2008 Annual)

Northern New England Subject Funnel Project

Penny Baker
Collections Management Librarian
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Williamstown, Mass. 01267

I would like to thank John Mitchell for his invitation to join this SACO Panel Discussion. My name is Penny Baker and I'm the collections management librarian at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute and funnel coordinator the Northern New England SACO Funnel Project - probably the smallest membership funnel in the SACO community.

I'll start by looking at what first prompted us to do something about our local work with multiple headings lists and vocabularies. Then I'll discuss the origin and management of the Northern New England SACO Funnel. And finally, talk about the benefits of our association with the PCC SACO.

I think the trigger for our eventual SACO participation occurred when departmental staff had responsibility for two Clark digital initiatives within a three year span.

In 2003, the Clark was invited to become a beta-contributor to the fledgling Mellon initiative, ARTStor. Our department was responsible for the creation of enhanced metadata to accompany museum object images to be contributed the ARTStor database.

In 2004, the Clark received funding from the Research Library Group (RLG) to digitize and create metadata for a portion of the David A. Hanson Collection of the History of Photomechanical Reproduction as part of RLG's Cultural Materials Initiative

As work progressed on the two projects, staff cobbled together subject headings and form/genre terms from LCSH, the Thesaurus for Graphic Materials (TGM), the Getty's Art and Architecture Thesaurus, and various local curatorial and visual resources vocabulary lists. What we found was fertile ground for the creation of new subject terms with no mechanism for contribution to the LCSH. Of course, throughout the projects we were creating and contributing name authority records through NACO.

Clark project team members inquired about SACO training and as a responsible department head I promised, in the words of Wilkins Micawber, that I would look for something "to turn up."

As a result, the Clark teamed with Middlebury College Library in 2005 to offer preliminary training through LC's "Basic Subject Cataloging" workshop to regional catalogers - primarily catalogers and archivists from New England and western New York. A few months later we submitted a SACO institutional application form to LC. I received a phone call from John Mitchell who suggested that we submit a SACO funnel application as well.

We recognized the strength in the inherent design of the SACO funnel system for smaller libraries employing only one or a few catalogers who may make only one or two SACO proposals each year.

Currently, the Northern New England SACO Funnel project is something of a fourth-dimensional spaceball. Although it is geographic, the participants are specialists - the Social Law Library (Boston, Mass.) and the art libraries at the Clark and the Corning Museum of Glass. And, we've yet to have a member from what is technically known as Northern New England.

We do engage in ongoing recruitment using regional listservs and meetings to pitch funnel membership. In addition, LC will alert us when an orphan LC proposal from a cataloger in our region appears. Communication is usually by e-mail and over the phone. In addition, Clark permanent and project cataloging staff members receive training and mentoring. For regional funnel members, training has been an issue. Typically we can recommend the basic subject cataloging courses sponsored by ALCTS, Nelinet, Nylink and others - but the time and travel can sometimes present a hardship for new members. Needless to say, we look forward to the debut of the LC/ALCTS-sponsored SACO web course.

The Clark has experimented with various web communication and social networking tools for ongoing SACO work. In 2006, we set up an internal SACO blog for Clark staff. And we've recently formed a group page for the Funnel on Facebook - Northern New England SACO Funnel (external link). However, we recognize that Facebook is not for everyone. You do need to be a Facebook member before gaining access to the group. And although the Facebook applications for communication are robust -- chat, IM, wall posts, comments, and discussion board - Facebook still gives library staff and colleagues the jitters. I've noticed that other Facebook specialist groups quickly become dead zones -- I've monitored the CCO Commons, a workgroup for Cataloging Cultural Objects, the Museum Computer Network and the CONTENTdm Group - in all cases membership is large but ongoing traffic is practically non-existent.

What promises to be more successful and, more suitable, I think, is the Northern New England SACO Funnel's Wiki (external link) known as nnesacofunnel /Frontpage just recently published to the web. We were able to incorporate many of the communication strengths into the wiki without requiring the user to enter into frenetic Scrabulous playing or to identify which Sex in the City character were they most like.

I believe the greatest strength of the SACO geographic funnel program is that it provides a means for the smallest institutions to contribute to the building of the national authority files. The small institutions often have subject specialists who are able and willing to provide enhanced bibliographic subject analysis - and, most importantly, SACO participation promotes regional collaboration, professional esprit de corps, and provides a mechanism for contribution to one's discipline.

Penny Baker
Collections Management Librarian
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
225 South Street
Williamstown, Mass. 01267
Telephone: 413-458-0531
Fax: 413-458-9542
E-mail: Penny Baker

The Northern New England Subject Funnel Project Home page provides a list of the participants, and an introduction to the Funnel.