In order to provide bibliographic control and access to remote access electronic resources of research value, the Bibliographic Access Divisions (BAD) of the Library of Congress currently employ an array of methods:
- use of Web guides, created by subject area specialists in reference areas to identify and collocate resources useful for reference and research
- use of the Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS) for certain Web resources that LC has harvested from the Internet and archived at LC
- MARC/AACR catalog records for resources selected to appear in the LC Online Catalog.
The concept of an "access level" MARC/AACR catalog record comes from a recent report from an internal LC workgroup operating under the FY03/04 strategic plan, view the full report (PDF, 191KB). This group recommended a new level of cataloging, emphasizing data elements that allow catalog users to search for and find records, while de-emphasizing data elements that have traditionally been used in full level records to describe and identify the resource but are not as relevant to remote access electronic resources, or do not support resource discovery.
Developing "Access Level"
LC's Office of Strategic Initiatives funded a contract with noted cataloging consultant, Tom Delsey, during the summer of 2004 to work with an LC team of cataloging and reference librarians to develop a core data set for "access level" records. The core data set was developed by analyzing the specific uses to be supported by the record, taking as the starting point the four generic user tasks (find, identify, select, and obtain) identified in IFLA's Functional Requirements of Bibliographic Records (FRBR). Dr. Delsey also assisted in the development of a draft set of "cataloging guidelines" specifically designed to address problematic cataloging issues.
Testing "Access Level" core data set and guidelines
In order to confirm that the proposed "access level" core data set meets the objectives formulated for the project (functionality, cost-efficiency, and conformity with current standards) the Library of Congress conducted a test of both the proposed data set and the draft cataloging guidelines on a subset of remote access electronic resources selected for inclusion in the LC online catalog (monographs and integrating resources only) from December 2004-January 2005. A link to a presentation outlining the results of the test is found below.
Future plans for implementing "Access Level"
After evaluating the results of the test, LC has determined that there are substantial cost savings to be derived from access level cataloging, with no appreciable loss of access for searchers. The Bibliographic Access Divisions is proposing to pursue the implementation of access level cataloging, using the following framework to define a "preliminary phase" to be carried out in the next year:
- Continue to apply access level cataloging for non-serial remote access electronic resources (with guideline modifications based on cataloger and reference feedback).
- Expand the group of trained catalogers from the five initial testers to include all catalogers trained to work on this category of material.
- Solicit feedback on the access level core data set, cataloging guidelines, and future plans, from internal and external constituencies.
- Collaborate with the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (see Objective 2.1.2 in the PCC Tactical Objectives, http://www.loc.gov/catdir/pcc/pcctactobj-2004-06.html).
- Distribute the records created as part of the test, as well as for the preliminary phase, via normal record distribution products (Cataloging Distribution Service).
- Consider additional tests of the functionality of the access level records in the catalog.
- Given the considerable savings derived from doing original cataloging at access level as opposed to adapting copy cataloging records at full level, perform only original cataloging at access level for the preliminary phase; re-assess this decision after one year.
- Work with other institutions testing the guidelines and core data set to decide on the optimal record identification indicia (e.g., encoding level, possible use of authentication code).
- Consider whether the "access level" model might also apply to other types of resources (Bibliographic Access Divisions Strategic Plan for 2005-2006, Goal IV, Objective 7)
The results of the access level test at the Library of Congress, the original project report, and the core data set are available at the following links. Comments may be sent to David Reser (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Results of the Access Level Test (PowerPoint presentation) available at: http://www.loc.gov/catdir/access/access_test_public.ppt
Revised versions of Appendix B (Mandatory Data Elements) and Appendix C (Draft Cataloging Guidelines), updated after access record test and record evaluation at LC:
Rev. Appendix B available at: http://www.loc.gov/catdir/access/cataloging guidelines_test.pdf (PDF, 55KB)
Rev. Appendix C available at: http://www.loc.gov/catdir/access/mandatory_data_elements_test.pdf (PDF, 133KB)
Original Project Report, August 2004 (25 p., including Appendices A-E) available at: http://www.loc.gov/catdir/access/report_final.pdf (PDF, 1.49MB)
Core Data Set, August 2004 (20 p. data set table to accompany Appendix A. Note: to print, use legal sized paper with landscape orientation) available at http://www.loc.gov/catdir/access/dataset_final.pdf (PDF, 583KB)
NEW: Presentation "It’s all about Access!" made at the 2005 ALA Annual Meeting in Chicago for the ALCTS Electronic Resources Interest Group: http://www.loc.gov/catdir/access/ala_erig.ppt
NEW: Presentation "Defining an Access Level Record for Remote Access Electronic Resources" made at the 2005 ALA Annual Meeting in Chicago for the ALCTS/CCS Continuing Resources Cataloging Committee: http://www.loc.gov/catdir/access/ala_crcc.ppt