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Report on the 13th Annual Conference of the North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG), June 18-21, 1998.
This year's NASIG Conference was held at the University of Colorado, Boulder, with the appropriate theme: "Head in the clouds, feet on the ground: Serials vision and common sense."
The goal of NASIG conferences, in general, is to promote informal communications among librarians, vendors, and publishers alike and the chance to meet and exchange ideas is encouraged at a variety of breaks, evening events, and social mixers. Both the feel and the dress code of these conferences are relaxed and casual, with participants staying in college dormitories and eating in student cafeterias, thus enabling them to keep their expenses as economical as possible.
Once again this year, the program was excellent. It began with two preconferences, "Leading from any position: an enneagram workshop preparing leaders for the 21st century," and "HTML from the ground up--spinning webs in the clouds." The conference itself followed the established pattern of offering three plenary sessions which are presented by renowned speakers, a choice of two concurrent sessions, and a choice of four workshops presented in two sets, plus a choice of various informal networking nodes and interest groups.
Plenary session I, presented by Mark Walter, Editor of Seybold Publications was titled "Internet publishing update: assessing the impact of changes in publishing technology on libraries." Walter discussed the impact of technology and how it is affecting "the business of what we do," where serials are now delivered both in print and in online formats, but where we are quickly moving toward digital masters for serials. He suggested that technology is redefining serials and that librarians and publishers together should shape our future course. Plenary session II, "Publishing in the new world," was presented by Patricia S. Schroeder, President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers and former congresswoman. Schroeder believes that our economic potential as a country is in intellectual property rather than in industrial products. Our strength is in organizing masses of information to make it accessible; the need for this will only grow and will make research libraries increasingly important. She spoke of the need to return to a more civil society, where disagreements are based on facts, not solely opinions, and the need to keep our personal connection in an era where people move to gated communities and communicate via the Internet.
Plenary session III, entitled "It's personal, it's digital and it's serial: trends that may affect higher education, publishing and libraries," was presented by Ellen Waite Franzen, Associate Provost for Information Services, University of Richmond. Franzen spoke on the use of scenario planning as a tool for addressing challenges facing libraries. In a very abbreviated summary, scenario planning involves creating multiple ways of addressing trends; it asks a group to come up with possibilities that explore the question of "what would we do if...". Franzen spoke about two trends, ubiquitous computing and ubiquitous information, and the possible social reaction to them. There is a flood of information, and a need for better ways to organize and direct it. What will all this mean for libraries? She gave some scenarios to consider as examples. Each plenary shared a different perspective and gave the audience thought-provoking ideas to ponder and discuss.
Of the twelve concurrent sessions offered, each attendee could select two and since all were outstanding, the choosing became difficult. Session #4 featured a panel discussing trends in journal publishing. With some science, technology and medicine (STM) journals a multi-billion dollar business, and the continuing growth in scientific literature, publishers and librarians are exploring new methods of publication and distribution. Gerry Grenier, of J.Wiley & Sons, recommended the creation of a STM resource database that would contain the articles, all related datafiles, linked to citation and references. Such a database wold require strong collaboration among all parties and require the use of digital object identifiers to provide accurate links. Peter Boyce, of the American Astronomical Society, spoke about the difference between journals that are published electronically and electronic journals. He defined electronic journals as "linked, permanent information resources for transferring reliable and accurate information from the producer to the user," not simply electronic images of the printed pages. Liz Pope, of the Community of Science, agreed that both publishers and libraries must adapt and be innovative, as the goal is to make the information available.
Concurrent session #7 featured Janet Swan Hill, Associate Director of Technical Services at the University of Colorado Libraries. She presented a session aimed at catalogers, titled "You may already know the answer," stating that catalogers may believe their kinds of materials (serials, non-print items, etc.) require more experience and more knowledge than other materials, and believe that the existing rules do not fit these materials.
Non-standard or sub-standard cataloging practices are almost always a mistake, and the monsters of the online age (record sharing, rules revision, system migrations, upgrades, and union databases) will attack these practices. Records may be lost; portions of databases will have to be re-created. She cited Arnold's Law: "if you follow a non-standard practice, someday, someone, somewhere will curse you," and added her corollary, "if you stay long enough at your present job, chances are it's going to be you!"
Twenty workshops on diverse topics were available; from these one could select four. These workshops are always very popular as they provide material of direct relevance to serialists; and each issue has its importance in the serials community.
In "Building an electronic journal collection from the ground up," Susan Zappen, Jennifer Taxman, and Julia McGinnis, described how Skidmore College Library developed and evaluated a collection of electronic journals. At present, 14% of their materials budget goes for electronic resources; they catalog only the titles they purchase. They are withdrawing the microfilm copies of titles they have available on JSTOR, and are considering not binding these same titles.
In "The real world of integrating r=electronic resources into a Web OPAC," Cristina Carter, Sever Bordeianu, and Nancy Dennis, from the University of New Mexico General Library, reported on issues and surprises that they encountered while implementing a Web-based version of INNOPAC, their online public access catalog. They gave attendees a peak into their reality, discussed planning for the hardware upgrade, and described how collaborative teams worked on issues to be faced upon implementation of WebPAC. They looked at issues from the perspective of systems, cataloging and maintenance, and reference. Infrastructure requirements were discussed, basic hardware configurations for the desktop were suggested, cataloging and maintenance workflow and processing issues were addressed, and sample item and check-in records were displayed. Several reference issues were raised, changes in periodical research were outlined, and policy issues, especially end-user policies, instruction, and staff training were explored. Attendees were reminded that "it takes a village to successfully plan, implement, and support a web-based OPAC."
In "What happened to the serials cataloger: copy cataloging of serials," Sharon Wilkes-Young, and Linda Novak, from Lehigh University, described what happened when their only serials cataloger was reassigned to a team leader position. They discussed how Lehigh dealt with the change and how they are dealing with the shift to electronic journals. Feedback from the audience was solicited and assumptions about serials staffing in general and outsourcing of electronic journal cataloging were examined.
A number of NASIG networking nodes were available on the last day of conference. These included sessions on public libraries, on serials cataloging, union listing, preservation, on getting published, subject indexing, serial literature for reference librarians, and on managing electronic resources. Different user group meetings concluded this successful meeting. The 14th annual conference will be held at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa., June 10-13, 1999, with the theme: "From Carnegie to Internet II: Forging the serials future." These conferences are highly recommended to anyone who works with serials or just wants to know more about them. See you there!
Frances C. Wilkinson
Linda K. Lewis
University of New Mexico Library
Summary of the CONSER at large meeting, held in Washington, D.C., June 28, 1998
Brian Schottlaender (UCLA), chair of the PCC Policy Committee, welcomed the group to another early Sunday morning gathering.
Task Force reports:
- A&I/ISSN issues. Cindy Hepfer (SUNY-Buffalo Health Sciences Library) reported that based on the results of an earlier survey, the task force determined that abstracting and indexing (A&I) information given in 510 fields should be retained in records as much as possible. With the need to selectively remove 510 fields in order to add other data to CONSER records, the task force has asked that OCLC maintain a web site where the removed 510 fields can be stored for later reentry into the records once the record length is extended. Cindy also noted the concern that in the original project some important services, such as ISI and Current Contents, were not included and that we might want to consider a new project to add these.
AACR review. Sara Shatford Layne (UCLA) discussed the revised model that was developed by Jean Hirons and Regina Reynolds (both of LC) and a new idea for "incorporating entry" that Layne introduced at the CONSER Operations Committee meeting in May. Papers discussing both are available on the CONSER Web site at: http://lcweb.loc.gov./acq/conser/serialty.html. The AACR Review Task Force is asking that the four individual working groups have reports with recommendations ready by the ALA Midwinter meeting so that the Task Force can spend all day Friday reviewing them. Brian discussed the follow-up steps with CC:DA and the Joint Steering Committee (JSC) which were to be clarified at a meeting of the JSC later that week.
A discussion followed on providing access to journals in full text databases.
Ruth Haas (Harvard), Jean Baker (U. of Maryland), and John Riemer (U. of Georgia) discussed the results of a survey that they developed following a CONSER Operations Committee meeting in spring of 1998. The questions is how to best inform patrons of the presence of journal titles on aggregator databases such as Lexis/Nexis and EbscoHost. The large number of titles is perhaps nos as problematic as the fact that titles may be added and dropped, thus requiring continued maintenance. The survey was distributed only to CONSER institutions because of time constraints and CONSER catalogers were asked to consult with reference librarians in providing responses. Ruth reported that fifteen responses were received and she noted the thoughtfulness of the responses.
The survey asked three questions: 1) what means are you presently using to provide information to your users about the journal resources in aggregator databases?; 2) if you are not providing access, please explain why not; and 3) what kind of access to journal resources in aggregator databases would you ideally like to use?
In answer to the first question, one half of the respondents are using the single record technique to cite the availability of online versions in the catalog. Three are using lists on their home page, four are using paper guides, ad two are using separate catalog records.
Lack of staff and resources and the inconsistency of the databases were cited as the primary impediments to providing more complete access.
In response to what might be ideal, there was a tie between electronic lists of journals and holdings contained in the database which could be loaded onto the library's home page and sets of cataloging records using the single record approach which could be loaded into the online catalog. The single record approach was strongly favored over separate catalog records.
During the discussion that followed, Steve Shadle (U. of Washington) reported on a project that aims to link citations in Web-based citation databases to articles in full text databases using a series of linkages. He noted that in order to make this system work, holdings would have to be maintained for each e-journal. Mechael Gago (Indiana U.) reported that her institution is participating in a three-year project and that reference librarians had volunteered to create a Web page to list the journals and were surprised at how long it took.
Ruth reported that she, Jeanne, and John had met with representatives from EBSCO the night before who seemed very willing to work with CONSER to extract lists of titles and ISSN from their database. There is also the possibility that EBSCO, a CONSER affiliate member, could add information to CONSER records indicating full-text availability.
Brian noted that UCLA and others working in a consortial agreement have developed policies for providing access. The single record approach will be used when possible. Other consortia may be working on similar agreements and this merits CONSER monitoring.
Regina Reynolds also noted that she is working with Steve Oberg (U. of Chicago), the current NASIG president, to develop a workshop that would "harness the power of NASIG" to address issues such as this with the vendors and publishers who attend NASIG.
Ideas for further action included:
1. Determine which databases are most commonly held among CONSER libraries and create sets of records for the journals in them. Assess who is getting what consortially and provide records.
2. Pursue more conversations with publishers and aggregators on the subject.
3. Explore what role developing standards, such as the DOI, may play in this.
4. Cooperate with appropriate ALA bodies to broaden the discussion within the library community.
5. On the CONSER web site, provide a bibliography of pertinent articles and general descriptions of projects that are being undertaken at various individual libraries.
Jean closed the session by noting the difficulties of dealing with local, consortial, and national-level data and trying to determine how CONSER can fulfill its mission of standardizing and saving time.
University of Georgia
CONSER announces serials training program
Responding to a strong need expressed by the serials community for training in serials cataloging, particularly basic training and electronic serials, CONSER has developed the Serials Cataloging Cooperative Training Program (SCCTP).
The SCCTP is committed to increasing the level of knowledge and expertise of catalogers providing serial records in shared or local databases. The educational components of the program are designed to be affordable, authoritative, and effective. The program will be evaluated on an ongoing basis to ensure cooperation among sponsoring agencies, ease of administration, adequate funding, and attainment of educational objectives.
The goals of the program are to:
- Provide an ongoing program of serials cataloging instruction for participants with varying levels of skills and expertise;
- Provide uniform core training materials that are adaptable to meet specific user needs;
- Provide a pool of trainers comprised of experienced CONSER and other serials catalogers;
- Provide training that utilizes a variety of delivery methods, such as over the Web, teleconferencing, as well as traditional workshop settings;
- Provide a broader understanding of the CONSER Program, its publications, goals, and benefits to all who work with serials.
The program will provide training materials and trained trainers to training providers, such as OCLC networks, local and regional library associations, etc. In this way, the program can focus on the content and the quality of the training.
A modular approach is envisioned, with training sessions developed over time that will allow training suppliers to pick and choose the modules of interest. Each module would specify the number of hours in and out of class that a trainee would spend on the training. Out-of-class hours would involve exercises from the Web. The development of modules will be based in part on expressions of interest from trainees.
The first module, or pilot, will address the most pressing needs as identified by the survey, basic serials cataloging for print and electronic serials. The pilot is designed for a classroom, but will also include pre- and post- class exercises mounted on a website. The pilot will probably be designed for
two or two and a half days with the ability to expand or collapse to meet the needs of training providers. The pilot will be developed during fall 1998, tested in early winter, and made available during the spring of 1999.
Eventually, classes might be added for remote locations, or the ability for trainees to participate in the classes remotely. Other alternatives for more intensive training will also be explored, such as onsite residencies.
Trainers will be asked to participate in a train the trainer session, which will cover presentation skills and techniques for adapting the materials to suite the needs of the trainees. A team of two trainers is seen as desirable.
The first session will be held in conjunction with the ALA midwinter conference in Philadelphia in 1999. Other sessions will be held in order to include trainers with a broad regional base. In fall of 1998, a call will be posted asking for names of experienced serials catalogers who would like to be considered as potential trainers.
The SCCTP is a cooperative endeavor between CONSER, NASIG, ALCTS, OCLC, and others. The cooperation involves planning and development, as well as funding and sponsorship. Members of the steering committee who have developed the program to date are: Jean Hirons (LC), David Van Hoy (MIT), John Riemer (U. of Georgia), Sharon Mason (U. of Nebraska at Kearny), Julia Gammon (U. of Akron), Bea Caraway (Trinity U.), Beverly Geer (Trinity U.), Cameron Campbell (U. of Chicago), Ann Ercelawn (Vanderbilt U.), Patti Fields (FEDLINK), Thom Saudargas (College Center for Library Automation), Sherry Vellucci (St. John's U.), and Lynne Howarth (U. of Toronto).
CONSER / Library of Congress
Report from the Preconference "What in the World... Cataloging on an International Scale." June 26, 1998.
Presented by the ALCTS Cataloging and Classification Section Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access, this Preconference was co-sponsored by the ALA International Relations Round Table, the ALCTS CCS Committee on Cataloging Asian and African Materials, the ACRL Western European Specialists Section/Germanists Discussion Group, ALCTS/LITA/RUSA MARBI, and the LITA/ALCTS CCS Authority Control in the Online Environment Interest Group.
This distinguished and diverse group of important committees and interest groups symbolized in a way the goals and objectives of the preconference and what also appeared to be the keyword of a number of other cataloging sessions: harmonization. Aimed at practicing catalogers, administrators, educators, students and OPAC system designers, the stated goals of the Preconference were to provide an overview of cataloging and systems standards development in the international context and to demonstrate how the various international efforts contribute to the ideal of universal bibliographic control and shared cataloging world-wide.
The faculty consisted of ten cataloging and systems experts, and, in addition to the distinguished representatives from the Library of Congress, such as John Byrum, Barbara Tillett, and Sally McCallum, the US contingent included Olivia Madison of Iowa State University, Joan Aliprand of RLG, Glenn Patton of OCLC, and Daniel Kinney, of SUNY at Stony Brook. The international experts included Ingrid Parent and Ralph W. Manning of the National Library of Canada and Monika Muennich of the University of Heidelberg.
The introductions and overview of the program were done by John Byrum, of the Library of Congress. He emphasized how interdependent we have become in the cataloging world, with expanding use of the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, 2d ed., (AACR2) including in non-English-speaking countries and with the growing application of the Library of Congress subject headings (LCSH) world-wide. He also pointed out that there is much interest in some countries such as Russia and Germany, to adapt to AACR2, especially after finding that both the Russian
cataloging code and the German rules were fairly similar to AACR2. According to Byrum, it is the intent of the AACR policies to promote international applicability and it is being attempted to adjust the rules to changing circumstances. He emphasized that among the Toronto Conference recommendations there are those that deal with a more international scope and flexibility. In fact, the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC), has among its members several national libraries, such as those of New Zealand, Hungary, Lithuania, and large universities, such as the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, as well as special libraries, such as the Library of the Vatican. Of course, PCC faces many challenges, such as those of formats and versions of headings. The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, (IFLA), has also contributed considerably to the internationalization of cataloging, by, among others, revising the International Standard Bibliographic Descriptions (ISBDs), by dealing with the problems of cataloging multi-script and multilingual materials, by developing the UNICODE, and by working on a number of bibliographic access issues, such as incorporating the Paris principles into AACR2, working on authority projects for uniform headings, and on linkages of various forms among records.
The next speaker was Ingrid Parent, of the National Library of Canada, who spoke of many interesting developments, especially about the activities of the IFLA Section on Cataloging. After asking herself why there was a need for such a body, she briefly
went into the history of it and that of the ISBDs. The Section has been in existence since the mid-thirties and has undergone a series of name changes. Its medium term program for the next 3 years if to analyze the functions of cataloging activities for all types of material and media, including both bibliographic and authority information. The Section proposes and develops cataloging rules, guidelines and standards for bibliographic information, taking into account the developing electronic and networked environment in order to promote universal access to and exchange of bibliographic and authority data. It also works on the ongoing development and revision of the family of ISBDs and has undertaken a number of important projects such as the development of guidelines for OPAC displays, guidelines for authority and reference entries, etc. According to Parent, some of the Section's problems are lack of funding, the very slow process to develop standards, and the problems of communication among members, as the language of the committee is English, which is difficult for some.
Olivia Madison, of Iowa State University, past chair of the IFLA Section on Cataloging, spoke about the future of AACR2, and about the IFLA functional requirements for bibliographic records (FRBR). She stated that international cooperative cataloging is essential, and for it to be successful, standards are also essential, both for description and access points, in all media and formats. We need to develop a framework for basic requirements, and the recently adopted core level standard for sharing bibliographic data should reduce some duplication of effort. According to Madison, the essential component of the new standard is the description of entities, where one must distinguish between "work," "expression," "manifestation," and "item." However, these terms as expressed in languages other than English, may make some of the distinctions rather difficult to define.
The following speaker, Ralph Manning, of the National Library of Canada was the chair of Joint Steering Committee (JSC)
meeting in Toronto. He spoke of the constant revision of AACR, and about some of the history of earlier cataloging codes, saying that in spite of all efforts to date we still have not achieved international standardization, as this seems easier in concept but not in its interpretation and application. The harmonization of MARC formats has been achieved, finally, and although the "Paris Principles" of 1961 are a strong basis for international cooperation, cataloging rules are still divergent. The JSC, established in 1974, still needs to reconcile the North American and the British texts of AACR2, as well as work to facilitate its use in non-English-speaking countries, as it has been translated into 18 languages.
Manning mentioned some of the recommendations on action items, resulting from the Toronto conference. Among others, these were to:
- develop a mission statement for the JSC;
- list principles of AACR2;
- logically analyze the principles and structures on which AACR2 is based;
- establish an AACR2 website;
- investigate the use of AACR2 outside of the Anglo-American community;
- due to the problems with seriality, re-define serials, by basically removing the numeric designation requirement from their definition;
- publicize and reaffirm JSC's policies, procedures, activities and recommendations on the website;
- investigate revision of rule 0.24, (i.e., catalog content or form?)
Barbara Tillett, of the Library of Congress next spoke about authority control at the international level. She stated that the universal bibliographic control (UBC) concept is based on the following principles:
- that each country is responsible for its publications;
- that each is responsible for making these available to others.
However, neither technology nor funding were available in the 1970s for this effort, and the lack of a national entity in some countries also was/is a hinderance. Today, there is a much more liberal approach and we can already share parallel authority records, since the single form of name is no longer acceptable. Also, variations in vocabulary tailored to the local audience and variations in spelling of the same word must be authorized and accepted, provided cross references are created for the variants. MLAR (minimal set of essential data elements for internationally shared authority record) is a new concept governing the shared resource authority headings. In the future, access control will take the place of authority control, by providing access to parallel headings in different languages or scripts for the same entity and linking them. The new concept is based on the recommendation for a minimal set of elements for a virtual international authority file, where we will provide the links only, without actually exchanging authority records.
The afternoons sessions were equally fascinating. They began with a presentation by Monika Muennich of the U. of Heidelberg, who spoke of the Project REUSE, a project undertaken by large German university libraries, and sponsored by OCLC.
The intent of the project was to examine the German cataloging rules (RAK) and contrast them to AACR2, and analyze their potential alignment or differences. Catalogers in German libraries are eager to see if harmonization of rules could eventually be achieved. The outcome of the study identified minor rule differences, such as alignment in the ISBD punctuation, and in main and added entries; a number of major ones included those of format and in headings for persons, corporate bodies and titles. Among these, for instance, is the rules where German catalogers do not have to differentiate identical names by using qualifiers; geographic names are always entered under the original and official name; executive and information agencies are not entered as subdivisions; multivolume records are treated very differently, by using hierarchies and links, etc. However, according to Muennich, harmonization as a concept has been accepted by German catalogers, and several major concessions have been made for new record creation, such as differentiating between equal names on a voluntary basis. In this way, and in order to participate more fully in international resource sharing, and, especially in international authority work, harmonization between the RAK and AACR2 has come much closer to reality.
Joan Alpirand, of the Research Libraries Group (RLG), spoke about the Unicode standard, its scope, principles, and potential for international cataloging. The authoritative source of information for version 2.1 consists of
- The Unicode Consortium, The Unicode Standard, 1996.
- The Unicode Standard, version 2.1 (Unicode Technical report)
Alpirand stated that more and more vendors are moving to implementing the Unicode in their operating systems and applications, fonts, text layout, and multilingual computing. The design principles of Unicode include the sixteen-bit indivisible character codes, real characters, not glyphs, semantics, plain text, logical order, unification, dynamic composition, equivalent sequence, and convertibility, in which the character identity is preserved for interchange with a number of widely-used standards.
Sally McCallum, of LC, talked about the progress that has been made in harmonizing USMARC, CANMARC, UKMARC. She briefly went into the origins of MARC at LC, as a result of the work of Henriette Avram, who developed MARC, after much consultation between various national libraries. Thus the aim, from the beginning was to keep the divergence to a minimum. However, some differences occurred due to national needs and differences, the environment at the time, where there were no networks, no cataloging traditions, and no great files of records in some countries; thus there was no obvious need for harmonization of formats. The 1990s, however, brought about many changes in technological progress, networking, the increase in international communications, the Internet and connectivity, Z39.50 inter connectivity, not to mention the great number of bibliographic and authority records.
According to McCallum, talks about harmonization began in 1994, with formal talks between national libraries beginning in 1995. The following years brought about discussions of format changes at MARBI, to benefit cataloging and eliminate costly conversion, and duplication of effort. The differences between USMARC and CANMARC, for instance, resided mostly in the detail, and, as of January of 1998, they have been fully harmonized, except in 9xx fields, that each national library may use in different ways (e.g., in Canada, for bilingual records).
With UKMARC, there are more differences, in that, for instance, the authority format is still only internal, and that in the bibliographic formats there are differences in subfielding, such as the use of subfields for punctuation. In addition, there is still the need for multilevel description and linking fields, for in-analytic type material.
McCallum stated that total harmonization is not yet possible at this point. Progress has been achieved in closer cooperation, especially with the new NACO membership, in more consultation on maintenance and by re-doing all documentation by the end of 1998.
Last speaker for the day was Glenn Patton of OCLC. He summarized the achievements of the network in the international arena by saying that there are now about 27,000 member libraries in 74 countries, who have created close to 40 million "local" records, to be used globally by anybody. The initial hope was to reduce cost and duplication of effort at the local levels, but each participant has different needs and there are various levels of need. All members need local flexibility, local editing, and local card or label production capability, and often these needs conflict with global needs and standards, which has made the cataloging process expensive.
OCLC at this time has thousands, even millions, of new bibliographic records from countries in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America, and the new challenges for the network are those having to do with transliteration, and character sets for non-Roman scripts. There are needs for more harmonization, in Patton's view, such as for cooperative creation of authority records, for linking of same names in different languages, for the uniform application of ISBD principles, for the need to link various subject vocabularies, for the continued exploration to handle multilingual data, and for more and easier electronic data access to a flood of information.
Elizabeth N. Steinhagen
University of New Mexico Library
ALCTS Technical services directors of large research libraries discussion group meeting, June 26, 1998.
The official version of the minutes can be accessed at:
(A summarized version will be published in CCQ 27(1))
MARC Formats LITA/ALCTS Interest Group, 1998 ALA Annual Conference Report,June 27, 1998
The 1998 Annual Conference meeting of the LITA/ALCTS MARC Formats Interest Group included presentations by a panel of speakers on international aspects of MARC. In sharing a world view of MARC, the speakers addressed the differences among various versions of MARC, the use of the USMARC format throughout the world, issues confronting a bibliographic utility with international subscribers, the use of multi-language records by a national library, MARC harmonization efforts and conversion of records between MARC formats.
Sally McCallum discussed the relationship between and development of the Common Communications Format (CCF), USMARC and UNIMARC. She identified the shared technical characteristics of the three formats. All the formats use Information Interchange Format (ANSI Z39.2) and Format for Information Interchange (ISO 2709), two indicators per field and two character subfield codes. Technical differences between the formats are found in the structure of the directories, the leader, linking techniques, level of complexity in subfielding and use of ISBD. Other differences in the formats are found in subject support (e.g., the CCF format uses a simpler approach of subject descriptors in the 620 field) and in coverage of materials, formats and standards. CCF is used for text or copies of text while USMARC and UNIMARC are used for all forms of material. CCF only has a bibliographic format while USMARC has five formats and UNIMARC has both bibliographic and authority formats with a classification format in development. All three formats use ISBD but standards for rules of description, classification and subject analysis vary among the formats.
CCF was developed and is maintained by UNESCO, UNIMARC is maintained by an IFLA committee and USMARC is maintained by its user community. All three formats have worldwide user communities. CCF is widely used in developing countries and smaller libraries. USMARC is heavily used in the U.S., Canada, Norway and Latin America, and UNIMARC is used in Portugal, Italy, Croatia,, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and parts of other countries in Europe and Asia.
In conclusion McCallum emphasized that the three formats share a general similarity and that the differences are in the details. For more information on the CCF format see "The Common Communications Format (CCF)" in Future of Communications Formats. Ottawa, National Library of Canada, 1997 <http://www.acctbief.org/avenir/ccf.htm>.
Margaret Stewart of the National Library of Canada (NLC) discussed the past, present and future of the Canadian MARC Format. She spoke about the CANMARC/USMARC harmonization effort from the Canadian perspective, providing an overview of the process and the challenges resulting from the special needs of a bilingual country that must maintain and provide access to information in two languages. Harmonization efforts in Canada began in 1972 when a MARC task group was established to study the requirements for machine-readable bibliographic records in Canada. A key question for the task force was whether Canada could accept the LC MARC format without modifications. The task force recommended that the National Library of Canada develop a separate, distinct format to meet Canada's needs but that the variations from the LC format be kept to a minimum for economic reasons. CAN/MARC was developed to support Canada's bilingual cataloguing policy which requires that access to unilingual items be provided by means of subject headings in both English and French and that bilingual works be represented by two separate bibliographic records. To provide multilingual access through subject headings CAN/MARC has used the 9XX MARC tags to specify language equivalent headings. For multilingual authority control each heading requires two authority records with control field 008, position 8 being coded either e or f to represent the language of the record. The 9XX tags are again used to indicate the equivalent headings for the two languages.
In 1994 the move to a harmonized MARC format by LC, NLC and the British Library began when the three organizations met to consider the benefits of harmonization -- easier, faster and more cost-effective exchange of bibliographic information. In December 1995 the three libraries agreed to go forward with a program to achieve a common MARC format. In February 1997 agreement was reached on the alignment of the CAN/MARC and USMARC formats. Key elements of the alignment include the following. The CAN/MARC 9XX fields used for language equivalent headings are obsolete. Language equivalent headings will now be carried in the 7XX fields. New and revised fields will accommodate archival requirements and format changes were made for cartographic material.
In January 1998 the National Library of Canada developed a phased-in schedule for the implementation of the changes for harmonization. All of the changes affecting only the CAN/MARC format will be implemented in January 1999 and in late 1999 (after October) changes affecting both CAN/MARC and USMARC will be coordinated with LC. Key issues resulting from the harmonization of CAN/MARC and USMARC are training, governance and documentation of the MARC format. The documentation will be a joint effort by NLC and LC. The timely issuance of a French version of the documentation is a priority for the Canadian libraries.
Documents outlining the changes required to the existing CAN/MARC bibliographic and authority formats to achieve alignment with USMARC are available on the National Library's Web site at the CAN/MARC home page <http://www.nlc-bnc.ca/marc/emarc.htm>.
Brian Holt of the British Library addressed the differences between UKMARC and USMARC and the impact of harmonization efforts. He referred those seeking more details regarding the differences in formats and the progress of format harmonization to the web sites of the national libraries and IFLA. He noted that Wales, a bilingual country, is adopting USMARC and that Canadas experiences with multilingual MARC records should benefit Wales. In addition he spoke about the British Librarys new system which uses the Canadian software AMICUS and the importance of UNIMARC as a switching language for conversion between formats. Holt emphasized the need for harmonization of MARC formats giving as an example the current situation in Latvia where presently three MARC formats are used .
For more information on MARC formats and format harmonization see the following web sites: UKMARC Web Page <http://www.bl.uk/services/bsds/nbs/marc/overview.html> CAN/MARC <http://www.nlc-bnc.ca/marc/emarc.htm> USMARC <http://lcweb.loc.gov/marc/> and UNIMARC <http://www.ifla.org/ifla/VI/3/p1996-1/unimarc.htm>.
Richard Greene of OCLC spoke about the challenges confronting a bibliographic utility with international subscribers. At present more than 10% of the OCLC participating organizations are non-U.S. and one of the four major thrusts of OCLC's strategic plan is the internationalization of OCLC. OCLC's approach is to build on the existing infrastructures in other countries but often standards -- both the lack of standards as well as existing country or local standards -- become barriers. Greene discussed three approaches to removing these barriers. The first approach would be the adoption of USMARC and OCLC standards which can be a costly effort. But it is the approach of the university libraries of France which have recently decided to adopt USMARC and AACR2. The second approach to removing barriers would be to change the standards in the United States and other countries, moving the standards closer together with all sides sharing the burden. This also is a costly, time consuming approach which requires substantial lead time. The third approach is to welcome the differences, retain your own standards but be able to use records created under other standards. Under this approach the key issues are how to exchange data and who is responsible when data structures conflict.
Four data conversion options for international libraries which do not use USMARC were discussed by Greene. A library may handle their own conversion of data to USMARC but the results often have problems. OCLC can convert non-USMARC data but this requires expertise in the other structures and MARC formats, none of which are static. OCLC now provides UNIMARC services whereby UNIMARC records are accepted by OCLC and converted to OCLC MARC and OCLC also supports the output of records in UNIMARC format, even in export mode, record by record. A third option is to purchase data conversion. The Library of Congress' Cataloging Distribution Service converts data from UKMARC and CAN/MARC to USMARC with reliable results and there are private companies in other countries which provide conversion services. The fourth option is to use a conversion utility such as UseMARCON developed in Europe, or Library of Congress' MARCMakr and MARCBreakr. Greene noted several key issues regarding the conversion of data. UNIMARC is a flexible format and records in UNIMARC come in various 'flavors' for input into OCLC which outputs records in one uniform UNIMARC format. Also the continuous developments and changes in MARC formats require continuous maintenance of OCLCs conversion software.
Greene also mentioned non-tagging issues which present challenges to the international processing and sharing of bibliographic records. These issues include the different character sets use by UNIMARC and USMARC, the variety of cataloging rules and traditions used internationally, local adaptions resulting in records which are not quite USMARC or UNIMARC, and logistic challenges due to languages and geography. In conclusion, he stated the importance of the acceptance of imperfection as the current methods and technologies for converting and sharing international bibliographic records result in some ambiguity, some loss of specificity and some data degradation.
For additional information regarding conversion options see: UseMARCON <http://www.konbib.nl/kb/sbo/bibinfra/usema-en.htm>, MARCMakr and MARCBreakr <http://lcweb.loc.gov/marc/marcutil.html>, OCLC UNIMARC Conversion Project <http://www.oclc.org/oclc/tb/tb221/tb221.htm>.
The Interest Group meeting also included reports on MARBI proposals and discussion papers and the recently approved new holdings standard (NISO Z39.71). The Group elected Robert Warwick (Rutgers) as new vice-chair/chair-elect, welcomed William W. Jones (New York University Libraries) as the new chair and expressed thanks and appreciation to the out-going chair, Rebecca Guenther (Library of Congress). The Midwinter 1999 meeting will address the issue of migrating acquisitions data into a new system.
University of New Mexico Library