CaMMS Committees & Interest Groups: 2017 Annual Conference

ALCTS committees and interest groups submit reports to the ALCTS Office after each conference. Following are reports submitted by Cataloging and Metadata Management Section (CaMMS) committees and interest groups.

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee met during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference at the CaMMS all-committee meeting on Sunday, June 25. For the first 45 minutes, Executive Committee members visited other CaMMS committees to learn about their current activities before gathering to begin our agenda.

We thanked outgoing members Bobby Bothmann, Ed Jones, and Kristin Martin and welcomed new members April Grey and Emily Sanford.

The committee heard and discussed updates about changes to Resource Description and Access (RDA) governance and future plans for ALCTS and CaMMS’ roles in nominating representative(s) to the proposed new North American RDA committee (NARDAC).

CaMMS is due for a regular five-year review by the ALCTS Organization and Bylaws Committee and the ALCTS Board. Erin Leach and Debbie Ryszka will coordinate our section’s review. The self-study is due December 1.

Other CaMMS committee chairs joined the group as their meetings finished and shared updates on current activities. The ALCTS President and President-Elect shared updates on ALCTS sixtieth anniversary initiatives and programs, the ALCTS Exchange, the mentoring program, and the ALCTS statement on equity, diversity, and inclusion statement.

The CaMMS Forum, “Power that is Moral: Creating a Cataloging Code of Ethics,” featured speakers Dr. Hope Olson and Beth Shoemaker and was reported by Billie Cotterman in ALCTS News. The presentations were followed by an active audience discussion led by Bobby Bothmann and Karen Snow and also sparked discussion on Twitter. 114 people attended the Forum. To continue the conversation, CaMMS will hold an ALCTS e-forum in early September. Other next steps may include designating an ad hoc task force to shepherd the conversation and any proposed documents that arise.

Submitted by Susan Wynne

Committee on Cataloging: Asian and African Materials

The Committee on Cataloging: Asian and African Materials (CC:AAM) met during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference on Sunday, June 25.

Iman Dagher (chair) opened the meeting by welcoming all members and guests, including two members who were able to participate virtually through Skype. After the approval of the midwinter meeting’s minutes, the subgroup responsible for planning the CC:AAM program at the 2018 Annual Conference in New Orleans gave an update on the status of the planning. The main program will be about cataloging non-Roman materials in a linked data environment. The plan is to have three speakers: one speaker from OCLC to cover the history and future of non-Roman cataloging and another speaker from Library of Congress to share the outcomes of the BIBFRAME pilot. The third speaker is still under consideration.

Also discussed were next steps that the CC:AAM should take regarding the statement in support of the internationalization of BIBFRAME that was drafted by a subgroup of the committee and shared with the Council on East Asian Libraries (CEAL), the Middle East Librarians Association (MELA), and the Africana Librarians Council (ALC). The committee discussed the issue of the MODS transliteration attribute and the potential role of CC:AAM.

The Library of Congress report noted that the Uzbek transliteration proposal from is back for some editing by the author and will be sent again for voting once the review is complete. The OCLC report provided an update on the use of Unicode characters in OCLC and on codes for searching various scripts. The Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access (CC:DA) liaison reported briefly on the RDA Steering Committee (RSC) activities and the RDA Toolkit Restructure and Redesign (3R) Project. MELA, CEAL, ALC, and Committee on South Asian Libraries and Documentation (CONSALD) reports about activities and news were shared.

The CC:AAM new chair and members were introduced, and the outgoing chair and members were thanked for their contributions. Bruce Johnson, the Library of Congress liaison to CC:AAM, announced that he will be retiring at the end of the year. We thanked Bruce for his valuable and expert contributions to the committee and his outstanding work with Romanization tables.

Submitted by Iman Dagher

Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access

The Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access (CC:DA) met during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference on Saturday, June 24. The committee’s Monday meeting was cancelled in favor of a discussion among the RDA Steering Committee and specialist cataloging communities.

At this meeting, the group voted (7-0) to approve the charge and roster of the CC:DA Resource Description and Access (RDA) Toolkit Restructure and Redesign (3R) Project Task Force, which consists of the following members:

  • Dominique Bourassa
  • Robert Bratton
  • Stephen Hearn
  • Tim Kiser
  • Jennifer Liss
  • Nathan Putnam
  • Robert Rendall
  • Regina Reynolds
  • Amanda Ros (chair)
  • Tina Shrader

The group is charged with providing feedback to the ALA representative to the RDA Steering Committee (RSC) on proposed changes to the RDA Toolkit and RDA standard.

Because the content of RDA is frozen during the 3R Project, there have been no proposals or working papers for CC:DA to consider.

Kathy Glennan (ALA representative to RSC) highlighted the activities of the RSC since January, focusing on governance changes and activities of the 3R project. The three North American Community representatives from the Library of Congress, ALA, and Canada are drafting Terms of Reference for the North American RDA Committee (NARDAC). These terms will be complete by November 30. ALA will appoint two representatives to NARDAC, but the terms of appointment, nominating process, and other details are still to be determined.

James Henelly and Judy Kuhagen also presented on upcoming changes to the RDA Toolkit as a result of the 3R project. The major impact of the 3R project will be to restructure RDA to accommodate the IFLA Library Reference Model (LRM), but there will also be design changes to the user interface of the Toolkit.

Gordon Dunsire, chair of the RSC, presented on the public RDA Meetings held in conjunction with the May 2017 RSC meeting in Chicago. Of particular interest to CC:DA was the focus on RSC’s strategies for accommodating the need to represent fictitious and non-human entities as creators.

In addition, CC:DA heard reports from other committee officers and organizations, including the Library of Congress, the Program for Cooperative Cataloging, ALA Publishing Services, and the MARC Advisory Committee. For full-length reports, see the agenda for the CC:DA meeting at the 2017 ALA Annual Conference on the CC:DA blog.

Submitted by Tina Shrader

Continuing Education Committee

The Continuing Education Committee met during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference on Sunday, June 25.

The committee briefly discussed the CaMMS-sponsored preconference at this year’s annual conference, “Cataloging and Metadata for the Web: Meeting the User Where They Are.” Initial feedback was positive, and all who attended felt it went well. The consensus of the committee was that it should sponsor another preconference event for the 2018 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans. Several topics were discussed with the committee deciding to focus on assessment in technical services. Potential formats were debated, including using more participatory activities so that those in attendance could benefit from practical training while at the preconference. Possible speakers were identified, and the committee agreed to continue thinking about others with expertise in this field.

The committee noted new procedures for submitting proposals, and Susan Wynne (CaMMS chair) briefly joined the meeting and provided feedback and guidance on submitting a proposal. Susan suggested that past e-forums—such as “Turning Statistics Into Assessment : How can Technical Services Measure the Value of Their Services?” and “Collection Evaluation and Assessment”—could point to possible topics and speakers.

The committee will meet virtually in July to continue preconference planning. Going forward, the committee will meet virtually for the ALA Midwinter Meeting in order to accommodate committee members who cannot attend in person.

Submitted by Karl Pettitt

Policy and Planning Committee

The Policy and Planning Committee (PPC) met during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference at the CaMMS all-committee meeting on Sunday, June 25. The committee approved our short agenda, as well as the minutes from our meeting at the 2017 ALA Midwinter Meeting. The main work of PPC is the systematic review of CaMMS interest groups and committees on a five-year cycle to ensure that the affiliated groups are active. We wrapped up our work for the year, which included reviewing five petitions for renewal (four interest groups and one committee), all of whom approved and renewed by the Executive Committee. We also discussed possible improvements to the workflow and information gathering process. Incoming chair Sarah Quimby was introduced, current committee member. The committee reviewed the 2017–2018 review calendar. The meeting was then adjourned.

Submitted by Emily Sanford

Research and Publications Committee

The Research and Publications Committee met during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference on Sunday, June 25. The committee has worked on three major projects for the 2016–2017 year:

  1. We disseminated a survey in April 2017 asking about the research and publication needs of the cataloging community and received almost 100 responses. We will use the data to create (or work with other groups to create) learning opportunities and resources to help meet the needs identified by respondents. A subcommittee was created to generate a list of ideas.
  2. A subcommittee prepared an updated list of cataloging resources. One committee member is creating a LibGuide to house the content and will work with ALCTS to publish the guide by the end of summer 2017.
  3. We have worked to update the bibliographic essays page on the ALCTS website. Four committee members and five library and information science (LIS) students have submitted essays. Karen Snow (chair) will work with Keri Cascio to update the page by the end of summer 2017.

Submitted by Karen Snow

Subject Analysis Committee

The Subject Analysis Committee (SAC) met twice during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference.

On Sunday, June 25 we heard reports from representatives from the Sears List of Subject Headings, Library of Congress Policy and Standards Division, Music Library Association, Art Libraries Society of North America, the CaMMS Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access, the SAC Research and Presentation Working Group (with a clarification of its charge), and the SAC Genre/Form Implementation Subcommittee. The latter generated the most discussion. We approved the white paper “A Brave New (Faceted) World: Towards Full Implementation of Library of Congress Faceted Vocabularies,” pending a few minor edits. We also discussed the future of the subcommittee. They will evaluate their charge and decide how to continue.

On Monday, June 26 Bob Maxwell and Adam Schiff delivered a thought-provoking presentation on subjects in authority records, which was very well attended. Following a break, we heard reports from liaisons to the OCLC Dewey Editorial Policy Committee, the Dewey Program and Cataloging in Publication (CIP) Program at the Library of Congress, OCLC Dewey Services, the Faceted Application of Subject Terminology (FAST) project at OCLC, the MARC Advisory Committee at the Library of Congress, and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).

Many full-length reports can be found on SAC’s page on ALA Connect.

Submitted by Liz Bodian

Authority Control Interest Group

The ALCTS/LITA CaMMS Authority Control Interest Group met during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference on Tuesday, June 27 with approximately 60 people in attendance. Moderated by Melanie Polutta (Library of Congress), the meeting consisted of presentations on European projects in the field of authority control, as well as updates on Library of Congress initiatives in development and use of authority terms.

The first presentation, “Opening Doors: Impact of Linked data Project Datos.BNE.ES on Authority Control at the National Library of Spain,” made by María Jesús Morillo Calero, (National Library of Spain), demonstrated the latest version of a linked open data service released by the Biblioteca Nacional de España (BNE), or National Library of Spain, in 2014. This project has been designed and developed in close partnership with the Ontology Engineering Group from the Polytechnic University of Madrid. This service, still in a beta version, has a twofold goal: to continue with the publication of National Library of Spain bibliographic and authority data in the Resource Description Framework (RDF) under an open license, and to provide the user with an innovative view of its assets, built upon and benefiting from this huge amount of semantic data. The data have been modelled after the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) framework, re-arranging existing data into FRBR entities and expressing relationships among them. Resources have been described using an ad hoc (BNE) ontology, a set of classes and properties linked to many well-known vocabularies. Entities have been linked to others equivalent from many datasets, and local data have been enriched with third-party information. These basic features provide a solid ground and structure for future developments for users, libraries, and other communities.

The second presentation, made by Thurstan Young (British Library), described the British Library’s implementation of the Library of Congress Medium of Performance Thesaurus (LCMPT). Music catalogers at the British Library began using LCMPT in original cataloguing in June 2016. The presentation outlined the reasons for adopting the vocabulary and the experience of implementation. Catalogers retain and extend their ability to use a controlled vocabulary to record voice and instrument terms, comply further with the element-based data recording approach of Resource Description and Access (RDA), and anticipate the exchange of data in future systems. In the course of evaluating a possible replacement for the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), it was noted that Faceted Application of Subject Terminology (FAST) and LCMPT contain many terms in common. However, the two vocabularies serve different purposes, and in some situations both may be applicable.

The third presentation, made by Daniella Trunk (German National Library), described merging techniques between several authority files joined into the Gemeinsame Normdatei (GND), or Integrated Authority File. The GND is mainly and originally used by libraries but increasingly deployed in other cultural heritage organizations in German speaking countries. It is operated cooperatively by the whole community and maintained by the German National Library. The GND data model and data format focus in particular on linking structure, describing entities and designating attributes and relationships to other entities. It is differentiated between the cataloging and storage format. Driven by the data model, some changes and additions to the MARC 21 Format for Authority Data were recently accepted by the MARC community, to be implemented in autumn 2017. With a high linking density, a URI resolving service, and an ontology on its own, the GND is visible as a building block of the linked data environment.

The Library of Congress update, presented by Janis L. Young, included latest implementations in BIBFRAME 2.0 tools, changes to the RDA Toolkit, changes to LCSH and new Subject Heading Manual documentation, and progress on the Art Genre/Form Project progress.

Tatyana Chubaryan (interest group chair) credited Melanie Polutta for the program concept of international developments in authority control. Evaluations were positive, expressing that it was enjoyable and illuminating to see the underlying data structures in other catalogs and authority files.

Following these presentations, a brief business meeting took place, where some attendees expressed concerns were about holding the interest group meeting in a hotel rather than the convention center, since doing so places limitations on attendance. Recommendations included:

  • Provide several years’ worth of attendance statistics to make the case for a room assignment in the convention center room
  • Seek to avoid time conflicts with the ALCTS Forum and Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) meetings, happening simultaneously with the interest group meeting
  • Review use of websites and communication after the migration of ALA Connect is complete.

Submitted by Tatyana Chubaryan

Cartographic Resources Cataloging Interest Group

The Cartographic Resources Cataloging Interest Group met during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference on Sunday, June 25 with 22 people in attendance. The session consisted of open discussion of recommended practices for cartographic cataloging.

The scale statement for a born-digital resource does not fit into any of the current scale phrases, such as “scales differ,” “scale varies,” “scale not given,” or “not drawn to scale.” Regarding statements for scale of born digital resources, the cartographic and GIS communities will need to continue the discussion.

The use of a new phrase was discussed “Scale not determined,” which is used when you cannot figure out the scale that is presented on the resource. This phrase is defined in the Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Cartographic), or DCRM(C), manual.

During the meeting, we revisited a previous discussion from the 2017 ALA Midwinter Meeting on linking fields, 76X–78X, especially for maps that have been separated from atlases. Nancy Kandioan previously used the MARC tag fields 580 and 787. Robert Bremer from OCLC agreed to use 580 or 787 versus using the 773 host entry and a 500 note because the descriptive cataloging is based on the item in hand as the original. Robert said that Chapter 3 instructs you to add an issue or piece, which has been extracted or detached from the resource with a citation. The Linking Field Task Force (Nancy Kandioan, Tim Kiser, Maggie Long, Catherine Hodge, and Iris Taylor) was created to determine the best practice.

OCLC has now completely implemented UNICODE, which raises the question of which special characters to use for minutes, degrees, and seconds. In OCLC Connexion, the special characters are difficult to make and are not being consistently used. The use of lowercase x for measurements of map will also need to be examined. The LD4-P (CM) project is looking at modeling coordinates, not to display those special character elements for future systems.

The discussion continued by weighing the advantages and the disadvantages of entering coordinates in both MARC tag fields: 034 (machine manipulation) and 255 (display-human readability). Two related questions were discussed on coordinates: Should we keep subfield c coordinates information in the MARC tag 255 field? Majority of people in the group felt that the information following subfield c in the MARC tag field 255 does not need to be recorded, but should instead be optional. Should we propose to record decimal coordinates versus standard coordinates (degrees, minutes, and seconds)? There are automated tools to convert standard coordinates to decimal. There was no preference from the group. However, the key is getting coordinates in the record in a formatted and controllable way. Further discussion was deferred to the Cataloging and Classification Committee meeting for a decision.

Submitted by Iris Taylor

Catalog Form and Function Interest Group

The Catalog Form and Function Interest Group met during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference on Saturday, June 24 with approximately 23 people in attendance. The meeting featured three presentations, followed by questions and answers. Alayne Mundt (chair) opened the session and introduced incoming chair, Dr. Melanie McGurr, as well as incoming vice chair, Mike Monaco.

The first presentation was by Dr. Melanie McGurr (Associate Professor of Bibliography and Head of Electronic Services at the University of Akron) and Demetria Patrick (Technology Librarian at Northeast Ohio Medical University) on “Challenges and Opportunities: One Academic Library, Seven Hospitals and a Consortial Move.” The presentation was about project that involved a consortium of seven hospital libraries and a medical university on a shared system and the process of migrating from a shared server hosted by a state consortium to a hosted service through Innovative Interfaces that took place in conjunction with a migration to Sierra.

Caroline Saccucci (CIP and Dewey Program Manager) and Camilla Williams (CIP Program Specialist) from the Library of Congress presented “ONIX and CIP: How the Library of Congress Uses ONIX Data in the CIP Workflow.” They addressed how out how the Cataloging In Publication (CIP) Program takes advantage of publisher-supplied ONIX (ONline Information eXchange) metadata to create efficiencies and enrich bibliographic records with tables of contents, summary information, and Book Industry Standards and Communications (BISAC) headings.

Finally, Lynn E. Gates (Director of Cataloging and Metadata at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs) presented “Can I Show This Video? Making PPR Visible to Patrons.” She spoke about her department’s process to add public performance rights (PPR) information to catalog records for DVDs and streaming videos, including modifying their integrated library system (Sierra) and discovery layer (Summon) to ensure indexing and display of notes indicating PPR.

Presentation slides for this meeting of the Catalog Forum and Function Interest Group are available on ALA Connect.

Submitted by Alayne Mundt

Catalog Management Interest Group

The Catalog Management Interest Group met during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference on Saturday, June 24 with approximately 139 people in attendance. Three speakers presented on the topic of “Preparing for the Transition to the Linked Data Environment: What is Being Recommended, What is Being Done, and What You Can Do.”

Jackie Shieh (Resource Description Coordinator at George Washington University’s Gelman Library) presented “Task Groups on URIs in MARC: Paving the Way…Bit by Bit.” Shieh outlined the work that has been done by Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) task groups to identify and recommend Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) best practices for the library community. This work included pilot tests to examine incorporating workflows into the current landscape and existing systems. Shieh also presented a brief summary of work that the various task groups will be taking on in the future.

Jack Ammerman (Associate University Librarian for Digital Initiatives and Open Access at Boston University Libraries) presented “Preparing for the Transition to the Linked Data Environment: Working with the Library.Link Network.” The library has instituted a monthly procedure to extract and enhance their bibliographic records and then publish those records to the web. The goal of this program is to enhance searching and research for their users. Ammerman also spoke about the library’s future plans, including improving assessment metrics and continuing to work with vendors to improve search results.

Nate Cothran (Vice President of Automation Services at Backstage Library Works) presented “Newton’s Third Law.” Mr. Cothran spoke about the relationships between libraries and vendors and ways in which both can work well together. He then outlined successful linked data projects Backstage has completed. He also looked at possible ways the existing MARC record could be represented in linked data and discussed tools and resources available to libraries interested in beginning to explore linked data.

Presentation slides for this meeting of the Catalog Management Interest Group are available on ALA Connect.

Submitted by Kimberley Edwards

Cataloging and Classification Research Interest

The Cataloging and Classification Research Interest Group met during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference on Sunday, June 25 with approximately 32 people in attendance. This year’s theme was communication and featured two presentations.

“A Lone Cataloger No More: How Better Communication Can Help Enhance Bibliographic Description for User Discovery” was presented by Xiping Liu (Resource Description Librarian at the University of Houston). Liu spoke on the challenges of communication between catalogers and special collections curators and how that communication could be improved to benefit the description of special collections materials.

“Charting Communication: Assessment and Visualization Tools for Mapping the Communication Patterns of Cataloging and Metadata Units” was presented by Becky Skeen (Special Collections and Archives Cataloging Librarian), Andrea Payant (Metadata Librarian), and Liz Woolcott (Head of Cataloging and Metadata Services), all of Utah State University. This presentation reported the findings of a study on the communication patterns between the cataloging department and other library departments, including frequency of and reasons for communications.

Presentation slides for this meeting of the Cataloging and Classification Research Interest Group are available on ALA Connect.

Submitted by Laura Evans

Cataloging Norms Interest Group

The Cataloging Norms Interest Group met during the 2017 ALA Annual conference on held its Saturday, June 24 withh approximately 170 people in attendance. The theme of this year’s program was “The Changing Metadata Arena and Its Practitioners.” It included three long presentations and three lightning talks. The six speakers brought a variety of perspectives addressing authority control, identity management, vocabularies and linked data, and the changing role and practices of cataloging and metadata librarians.

Jennifer Liss (Indiana University) spoke on “Identity Management or Authority Control?” She noted that authority control can be complicated and expensive, and identity management has been used increasingly. She talked about the conceptual differences between the two terms and explained that identity management can be a subset of authority control. She spoke on behalf of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) Task Group on Identity Management in the Name Authority Cooperative Program (NACO) and discussed the work of the task group. In giving more details, Liss brought out NACO Lite, its related issues, and benchmarking. She further introduced an International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) pilot, under which PCC would become an ISNI Registration Agency and contribute work to ISNI via the PCC “umbrella” membership. The pilot called for participants this February, and twelve institutions are involved. The project will launch in June or July 2017.

Miloche Kottman (University of Kansas Libraries) presented “Authority Control for Finding Aids: Changing Roles for Cataloging Staff.” She said that the University of Kansas Libraries had moved from an archival finding aid creation system to ArchivesSpace. While the former lacks authority control, the latter is an open-source archives information management system and offers some limited authority control capabilities. Data cleanup was needed before the migration to ArchivesSpace. Kottman discussed benefits and challenges associated with evaluating and updating the close to 5,000 subject headings generated from their legacy finding aid records, including the use of an Authorities Unit staff member who is more familiar with MARC cataloging.

Ivey Glendon (University of Virginia Library) presented “Better Together: Cataloging and Metadata Librarians, Archivists, and New Understandings for Description and Discovery.” She first introduced their organizational structure, metadata philosophy and education,. She then said that their Metadata Analysis and Design team was planning a migration for manuscripts metadata—including MARC records, EAD XML documents, and finding aids—to a single destination: ArchivesSpace. Glendon addressed issues such as overlapping skillsets among archivists, metadata librarians, and catalogers; cross-pollination in metadata philosophy; achievements and setbacks (successful data transformations, data encoding errors); and technical and interpersonal skills (XML, XSLT, patience, diplomacy, persuasion). She emphasized that the migration requires expertise from archivists, metadata librarians, and catalogers and shared their successes and challenges working together to imagine the future of archival description and discovery.

Kicking off the lightning round, Rachel Jaffe (University of California, Santa Cruz) spoke on “Controlling the Uncontrolled Using OpenRefine.” She said that the University Library was undertaking an effort to remediate their existing Dublin Core digital repository metadata in anticipation of both a possible DAMS migration and a transition to linked data. Part of their work had been to control their uncontrolled and local vocabulary terms and to develop a standardized authority control workflow around their digital repository metadata. In her presentation, Jaffe outlined their efforts, introduced OpenRefine’s reconciliation tool, demonstrated the reconciliation process, and discussed issues encountered as well as future directions.

Mary Aycock (Texas State University) presented “The Nitty Gritty of Adding Subfield 0 to MARC Records.” The university library has been partnering with Zepheira and Atlas Systems to add its Special Collections Records (Wittliff Collections and Archives) as linked data on the Library.Link Network platform. Aycock talked about preparing their MARC catalog records for the linked data environment by adding URIs in subfield 0 to their catalog records using MARCNext. She noted that the subfield 0 is also showing in some vendor records and Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) records from the National Library of Medicine. Aycock gave an overview of the process and brought out specific issues related to display, indexing, and workflow that they encountered.

Brian Falato (University of South Florida) presented “An Existential Crisis for Cataloging?” He pointed out that acquisition trends are changing, and cataloging practice is changing with it. He observed that the increasing reliance on patron-driven acquisition (PDA) and e-books bought in packages typically means catalog records are batch loaded. Frequently, these records come from the vendor selling the e-books or sponsoring the PDA program, and the quality of the records supplied varies greatly. Falato further stated that, given this situation, catalogers may feel they are functioning as file managers instead of practicing the skills they originally learned through their schooling and training. He questioned that whether cataloging of individual items will become obsolete except for special circumstances and collections, and he also wondered whether the transition away from MARC to standards such as BIBFRAME provide renewed energy for catalogers.

Presentation slides from this meeting of the Cataloging Norms Interest Group are available on ALA Connect.

Submitted by Jessalyn Zoom

Competencies and Education for a Career in Cataloging Interest Group

The Competencies and Education for a Career in Cataloging Interest Group met during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference on Friday, June 23 with approximately 75 people in attendance. The session featured presentations inspired by the “Core Competencies for Cataloging and Metadata Professional Librarians,” a document adopted by ALCTS in early 2017. The 2016–2017 interest group chairs, Allison Yanos and Susan Rathbun-Grubb, solicited proposals by cataloging and metadata practitioners, educators, students, and managers for presentations that explored the ways they might use the “Core Competencies” in practice.

Four presentations were selected that provided different perspectives on the Core Competencies:

  • “Negotiating Competency, Asserting Authority” presented by Erin Leach (Head of Serials Cataloging at University of Georgia, Athens) and Jessica Schomberg (Media Cataloger at Minnesota State University, Mankato)
  • “Building on the Core: How the Core Competencies for Cataloging and Metadata Professional Librarians Relate to Audio-Visual and Special Collections Cataloging” presented by Amy K. Weiss (Head of Cataloging and Description at Florida State University)
  • “Two Sides of Perspectives: Competencies and Education for Cataloging and Metadata Professionals” presented by Myung-Ja (MJ) K. Han (Metadata Librarian) and Patrick Harrington (Graduate Assistant), both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • “The Challenges of Change: Using Core Competencies in LIS Education” presented by Karen Snow (Associate Professor and PhD Program Director at Dominican University’s School of Information Studies)

Erin Leach and Jessica Schomberg issued a challenge to employers and employees using the “Core Competencies.” Although the competencies state that examples “are for illustrative purposes only and should not be considered prescriptive,” employers and employees are likely to adopt some or many of them. The presenters discussed how we can ensure institutions negotiate these competencies with library workers instead of using them against workers. Using the behavioral competency “professional curiosity,” they identified a number of ways to navigate competency negotiation. Institutions, such as employers and professional associations, should consider how dues structures and appointment protocols could be revised to expand participation from students and early-career library workers, provide low-cost options for those with financial limitations, and make sure in-person and virtual opportunities are accessible. They should support cross-division discussions within ALA that present these competencies as a negotiation tool, not a hiring list, and provide cross-division toolkits to help administrators support library workers. Finally, institutions should support whatever competencies are job requirements within libraries through in-house growth opportunities and resources to engage with the broader professional community. Leach and Schomberg advised individuals to acquire tools for negotiating employment conditions, to participate in mentoring programs that pair newcomers with more experienced colleagues, and identify what would make them “walk away” from a negotiation.

Patrick Harrington presented his and MJ Han’s perspectives on how they acquired cataloging and metadata competencies as a student and a mid-career professional, respectively. Recognizing that cataloging and metadata work requires knowledge of both theory and practice that is not always easy to obtain in a classroom setting, Harrington also participated in a graduate assistantship while in his library and information science (LIS) program to get hands-on experience. Harrington outlined the competencies he gained through coursework versus those he gained through the assistantship, identifying where the two intersected. Han’s perspective of 13 years working as a cataloging and metadata professional illustrated the importance of building competency sets while on the job and over a career. Harrington and Han stressed the importance of developing soft skills, as well as knowledge and technical skills.

Amy K. Weiss offered a counter point to the “Core Competencies,” asserting that “metadata creation competencies for specialized library communities…such as…audiovisual…and rare and special collections are not covered in this document; however, specialized communities may build on this core competencies document.” She discussed the ways in which the competencies are applicable to audiovisual and special collections catalogers. Using MARC records as examples, Weiss demonstrated that the following knowledge competencies are definitely required by specialty catalogers and general catalogers alike: Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR), Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (DCRM) for graphics and books, Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS), and Resource Description and Access (RDA).

Karen Snow’s presentation focused on the challenge that LIS programs face when confronted with the continuous evolution of workplace competencies. She defined what “competency” means in LIS education and in the context of ALA accreditation. She recommended that having regularly updated core competencies documents can help LIS schools determine what program and course changes are needed. She presented an LIS educator’s view of the benefits of core competencies documents for LIS schools and explained how the recently created “Core Competencies” has already been used to update one LIS school’s cataloging and metadata area of specialization.

Presentation slides for this meeting of the Competencies and Education for a Career in Cataloging Interest Group are available on ALA Connect.

Submitted by Susan Rathbun-Grubb

Copy Cataloging Interest Group

The Copy Cataloging Interest Group met during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference on Saturday, June 24 with 47 people in attendance. Co-chairs Cynthia Romanowski and Dan Tam Do facilitated the meeting with assistance from incoming co-chairs Emily O’Neal and Amanda Ros.

Chris Long (University of Colorado Boulder) presented “Making Beautiful Music (Metadata) Together” and described a retrospective conversion project in which metadata services partnered with the music library. Metadata services staff had time and capability, but they had little music cataloging knowledge and difficulty gaining physical access to the items and were using shelf list cards with varying quality of data as the basis for records. To face these challenges, they opted to:

  • Regard their colleagues as customers.
  • Create K-level records conforming to OCLC’s standard for minimal-level cataloging.
  • Reset their expectations (they were not “music catalogers” but “catalogers who can catalog music”), recognizing that incomplete data is better than incorrect data.

The presentation concluded with thoughts on the challenges and mentalities of change.

Jessalyn Zoom (Library of Congress) presented “What It Really Takes to Do Copy Cataloging” and busted two copy cataloging myths: first that it is simply a “pass-through” of another library’s record, and second that it is purely descriptive cataloging, requiring no subject analysis. In fact, copy cataloging requires questioning and active engagement. A work plan for increasing cataloger independence could include metrics for time spent, project duration, material type, and amount of work to be done. Documentation is critical, as is training, which could include Research Description and Access (RDA) training, discussion of the work plan, individual consultations, and feedback on records reviewed. Aspects of descriptive copy cataloging, subject analysis, and adoption of RDA standards were discussed, along with examples of corrections and tweaks to be made by a copy cataloger. The presentation also covered quality control, identification of continuing issues, and the rewards of training.

Andrea Payant, Becky Skeen, and Liz Woolcott (all of Utah State University) presented “Outside In: Retooling Cataloging Outreach Efforts” and described two recent initiatives designed to bolster the utility and visibility of their work. A single service point model was established. Staffed by the most experienced copy cataloger on staff, a singe service point led to improved consistency and efficiency and fewer points of contact. An education and awareness initiative deployed data visualizations that illustrated the nature of cataloging and metadata work done at the library. The impact and effectiveness of these initiatives were measured by a survey of library staff. The presentation emphasized the importance of engagement and collaboration in learning and also detailed changes leading to “2.0” versions of the single service point, infographics, and outreach initiatives. The infographics can be viewed on the Utah State University Cataloging and Metadata Services blog.

Erin Grant (Emory University) presented “This Cataloging Workflow Change May Surprise You: Outsourcing Wasn’t the Answer” and described an overhaul of her library’s DVD cataloging workflow. Previously, DVD cataloging had been outsourced, which took too long and caused a physical inaccessibility problem that sometimes resulted in the purchase of duplicate copies. Following investigations of acquisitions and cataloging processes and meetings with stakeholders—the film studies librarian, an overworked cataloger, and the head of technical services—a new workflow was developed. DVDs are now sorted by cataloging complexity, and the DVD cataloger has trained acquisitions and cataloging staff to perform simple and complex copy cataloging, respectively. Outsourcing services are retained only to address special challenges. The presentation identified next steps for perfecting the new workflow, as well as the positive outcomes of the overhaul.

Presentation slides for this meeting of the Copy Cataloging Interest Group are available on ALA Connect.

Submitted by Dan Tam Do

Faceted Subject Access Interest Group

The Faceted Subject Access Interest Group met during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference on Saturday, June 24 with 48 people in attendance. The program consisted of an OCLC Faceted Application of Subject Terminology (FAST) project update and three presentations on uses of FAST headings.

Eric Childress (OCLC) reported that there are currently about 93 million WorldCat records with FAST headings. The FAST file contains links to Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), Virtual International Authority File (VIAF), Name Authority Cooperative Program (NACO), Wikidata, and GeoNames. The project is currently developing a prototype “import” that allows people to import name and subject headings into FAST from NACO headings or LCSH. This will make it quicker and easier for people to create needed FAST headings as they catalog. There should be an initial release of this tool in 2017.

Magda El-Sherbini (Ohio State University) presented “FAST and Improving Resource Discoverability for Non-Roman Language Collections.” An effort to promote research on non-English subject access grew out of the “Report of the ALCTS Task Force on Non-English Access,” 2007–2009, recommendation 11. End users and librarians want a system that is more open to multilingual subject access. Magda received a grant to study the multilingual catalog of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, which has developed a system to search materials by subject in three languages and in different scripts. Based on that research, Ohio State University began a pilot project in February 2015 to add multi-lingual, multi-script subject headings to records in their catalog in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Arabic. In addition to assigning LCSH, FAST headings were used and then linked to the term in a non-Roman language, allowing users to search the catalog by subject in their preferred language.

Rachel Jaffe (University of California, Santa Cruz) presented “FAST Times in Digital Repository Metadata Remediation.” The Metadata Services Department is engaged in a digital repository metadata remediation project as it prepares for a digital asset management system (DAMS) migration and a shared discovery layer. Looking ahead to a more faceted search environment, they chose FAST as an elegant and potentially easy solution to issues in their legacy data and in the work of subject analysis. OCLC’s FAST Converter tool was not as easy to use with Dublin Core as desired, so they looked to OpenRefine’s reconciliation service to match the LCSH terms in their legacy data to FAST terms. OpenRefine did not answer all of their needs, but was able to do a good deal of the reconciliation work. A greater problem was the plan to use FAST headings instead of LCSH when creating new metadata. There are few training materials and, in the end, they had to apply traditional subject headings in addition to FAST headings. The current conclusion, given two looming migrations, is to retain LCSH headings, but to take a more faceted approach to them by creating fewer and less complex pre-coordinated headings.

Lucas Mak and Lisa Lorenzo (Michigan State University) presented “How to Get FAST Fast? Automating LCSH to FAST Heading Conversion with the FAST Linked Data API.” Michigan State University (MSU) Libraries, after a recent metadata normalization project, decided to use FAST headings across all of the collections in its Islandora digital repository. FAST headings allow for succinct subject description, and are more suited to faceted searching and display. Also, it is easier to add uniform resource identifiers (URIs) to single terms. The FAST Converter requires MARC as the input file, which makes it unsuitable for MSU’s MODS records. Instead, MSU incorporated the API for OCLC’s FAST Linked Data Service, an XML-based protocol, into their conversion process. Some problems and time-consuming steps in the process remains. One problem is that some electronic theses and dissertations do not yet have MARC records in the catalog. Another is that many infrequently occurring names in the NACO authority file do not yet have FAST headings. Also, FAST treats some headings different from how LCSH treats those headings. They have dealt with these issues in various ways, including creating internal tables and adjusting indexing in their repository.

Presentation slides and the OCLC report delivered at this meeting of the Faceted Subject Access Interest Group are available on ALA Connect.

Submitted by Sarah Wallbank

Heads of Cataloging Departments Interest Group

The Heads of Cataloging Departments Interest Group met during the 2017 ALA Annual Conference on Monday, June 26 with 117 people in attendance. The session featured three panelists discussing applications of scrum principles to prepare the alignment of libraries’ much siloed MARC data to the linked open data environment.

Jackie Shieh (chair) set the stage by introducing the session theme, “Applying Agile Practices to Metadata Workflows: Data and People in Transition” and speakers. The panelists were Lisa Lorenzo (Michigan State University Libraries) followed by Kate Harcourt and Melanie Wacker (Columbia University Libraries). The presentation shared by the panelists touched on the rapid change of workflows and processes of project-based cataloging and metadata needs. In the midst of this tumult, little has been taken away from traditional technical services operations. Managers continue to face challenges of increasing workloads, including identify management and consultative roles in digital projects. The 2001 Manifesto for Agile Software Development impacts the design, analyses, planning, and decision-making criteria. The relative merits of in-house staffing and deployment of developer support are not outside of its influences.

Martin Knott moderated the Q&A session. As at our previous meetings, we encouraged the audience to submit feedback and questions through Twitter, using the hashtag #alctsac17hoc. Knott also announced that Angela Kinney from the Library of Congress would serve as co-chair for 2017–2018.

The panel presentations, followed by a Q&A period, achieved the objectives established for this session, supporting the 2017 ALCTS Strategic Directions “Equitable Access to Information and Library Services” and “Transforming Libraries.”

Presentation slides and detailed notes from this meeting of the Heads of Catalog Departments Interest Group are available on ALA Connect.

Submitted by Martin Knott


    1. Hi Susan, you can get in touch with the current chairs of the interest group. From the list of all ALCTS interest groups, visit the home page of the interest group that interests you to see who leads the group. Pro tip: if you log into the website using your ALA credentials, you will be able to view contact information for those leaders. You can also learn more about volunteering for an ALCTS committee.

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