CRS Cataloging Forum

The ALCTS Continuing Resource Section (CRS) Cataloging Forum took place at the 2018 ALA Midwinter Meeting on Sunday, February 11. This meeting was one of many adversely affected by the inability of Library of Congress staff members to travel to this conference, due to the possibility of a US federal government shutdown. Normally this meeting would have included updates from Regina Reynolds (Director, US ISSN Center and Head, ISSN Section, Library of Congress) and Les Hawkins (CONSER Coordinator, Library of Congress), but unfortunately they were unable to attend.

Ben Abrahamse (Cataloging Coordinator, Digital Operations and Reformatting, MIT Libraries) organized the forum and delivered an update prepared by Regina Reynolds in her absence. Reynolds reported on the ISSN centers conference she attended in Morocco in November 2017. The effect of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Library Resource Model (LRM)) on Resource Description and Access (RDA) was discussed at that meeting. Reynolds also reported on the redesign of the ISSN portal, completed in January 2018. New services are offered through this fee-based service, although requests for validation of other than U.S. ISSNs remains free.

The remainder of the meeting was given over to Steven Riel (Manager of Serials Cataloging, Harvard Library) who gave a presentation entitled “Series as Serials: Implications of Two Current Cataloging Instructions.” The intent of his presentation was to generate a dialog about series as serials, while taking into account the limitations of the MARC format, the possibilities of linked data, and the practical implications for acquisitions during the transition between the two cataloging instructions.

Riel outlined a situation where a numbered series becomes unnumbered (or vice versa). Under the old cataloging instruction, there would be two series authority records (SARs) linked by 5XX fields, along with one serial bibliographic record for the series. Under the new instruction, the two SARs would be merged into one, containing a 641 field with the numbering change information. Riel said he was unclear what the serial bibliographic record would look like, but he presented some possible 362 and 515 field language for it. He also described current Harvard acquisitions workflows that would be affected by the change to the new instruction. Attendees volunteered information concerning their own workflows, including making up their own numbering scheme (e.g. 2018-1, v. 13a, etc.) or using the title instead of a number. Riel also put forth a variation on this scenario in which one publisher purchases another and then proceeds to reissue legacy titles in a series.

Another situation presented by Riel involved a series published concurrently in two different countries. Under the old instruction, there would be two SARs, one with the country used as a qualifier. Under the new, the two SARs would be merged into one and there would be two serial bibliographic records with the same work authorized access point (AAP).

Attendees were engaged by the complex issues raised by Riel’s scenarios, and many contributed to the conversation. There was mention of the new term “WEM lock” which had been introduced to most participants during the course of Midwinter. During the RDA Toolkit Redesign Update and Preview preconference on Friday, February 9, one of Ed Jones’s slides defined WEM lock as follows:

  • Because serials are issued over time (diachronically), different versions of the “same” serial may diverge or retain little content in common (e.g. local editions, language editions, formats).
  • IFLA LRM treats this as the rule rather than the exception.
  • “It ensures that any serial work can be said to have only one expression and only one manifestation” (IFLA LRM, 5.8 Modelling of Serials).
  • Note: This applies to all continuing works, including ongoing integrating works.

While this appears to raise new challenges for serials catalogers, it was suggested that perhaps CONSER would eventually recommend approaches that would make it more manageable on a practical level.

Riel reiterated some of the issues that prompted him to prepare his presentation. CONSER members need to include series when they think about serials. Series are badly behaved and consume staff time. When the Library of Congress ceased controlling series, it created problems for the rest of us, since our public services and collection development staff still want series control. The conversation ran out of time and Abrahamse closed by encouraging all to contact him with serials cataloging needs of any type.

Notes from the Forum and all Steven Riel’s slides are available through ALA Connect.

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