Professional Development

Steve at ALA Midwinter

Friday, February 6, 2009 6:00 pm

Sorry this is so late, but at least the info included is not time-sensitive.Like several other folks here, I went to the ALA Midwinter Conference in Denver in late-January.I stayed at the apartment of our former colleague Jim Galbraith, who is now living in Denver and working for NetLibrary as a Product Manager.Jim sends his greetings to all.If you get out to Denver within the next year, you should look him up.Of course, by this time next year, it’s anybody’s guess as to what town he’ll be living in.

I got to Denver a little early so I could attend a meeting of the NASIG Executive Board before the conference began, in my role as co-chair of the Conference Planning Committee for the upcoming 2009 NASIG Conference in Asheville.I was only able to stick around for the first two days of the conference, but I managed to attend a few good sessions, which I’ll now discuss.

Actually, the first session I would like to mention is one that wasn’t held.The CC:DA (Cataloging Committee: Description and Access) was supposed to hold a four hour meeting on Friday, Jan. 23 to discuss RDA (Resource Description and Access), the proposed new cataloging code which is intended to replace AACR2.However, due to a lack of responses, the entire meeting was cancelled.That told me that we are quite a way from actually implementing RDA.

That is not to say that there was no discussion of RDA at the conference.That Friday afternoon I attended a meeting of the CCS Forum, which was focused on RDA specifically.The meeting discussed RDA in general terms and the expected benefits of the new standard, but without getting into the nuts and bolts of the standard itself. In her presentation, Barbara Tillett, the Chief of the Policy and Standards Division at the Library of Congress, claimed that RDA is a content standard for the digital age, but one that can be used for all other formats, and that is flexible enough to accommodate future formats.RDA is not an encoding or presentation standard, but is preparing the infrastructure to build for the future, by taking into account user tasks, content standards and conceptual models (particularly the big buzz-word model FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records), which space will not allow me to describe here-if you would like to know more about FRBR, please ask me, I will be happy to explain).We currently do not have the systems to deliver the content that RDA allows for.A MARC/RDA Task Group is looking at changes needed to the MARC standard to accommodate RDA, which would require very fine granularity of data to fully implement.Tillett argued that the first release of RDA carries over a lot of AACR2 practice and “case law” (as it were), because library administrators pushed for this continuity to make the transition to RDA less traumatic and extreme for catalogers.She argued that future revisions of RDA would move further from AACR2.Tillett also said that training materials must be developed to help catalogers make the transition from AACR2 to RDA.So, to sum up, the RDA standard has been developed, but we still don’t have a MARC format that can implement the standard, catalog systems that can implement the standard, or training materials to teach catalogers to use the standard.As I said above, I think we’re years away from implementation.

On Saturday, Jan. 24, I attended a session of the CCS Copy Cataloging Interest Group.Joseph Kiegel of the University of Washington discussed their experience as the first library to implement OCLC’s WorldCat Local.WorldCat Local (WCL) is a tool for using bibliographic records directly from OCLC’s database rather than downloading records from OCLC to load into a local system.Instead, the local system contains holdings information and other local information that is fed up to WCL.WCL has driven ILL and consortial borrowing through the roof at U of W.The major drawback to using WorldCat Local is that a library must use the records available on OCLC as they are, even if they have errors, unless the library has Enhance authorization from OCLC, which allows the library to edit the master record.Library staff must go through extensive training to get Enhance authorization in a given format from OCLC.There are six bib record formats, and, of the 232 Enhance authorized libraries in the country, none are authorized to edit all six formats.Indiana University has five formats, and twelve other libraries have four formats.This suggests that WCL is a workable option only for fairly large libraries, with large staffs that can absorb the high levels of training and specialization.In order to address this problem, UCLA is beginning an experimental program with OCLC to loosen OCLC’s current restrictions on the editing of master bib records.The training for the experiment is to begin in February.

I also attended a session with some interesting discussion of holdings records for e-serials, but I think I’ll spare you all those particular musings, considering the current length of this entry.If anyone wants to discuss any of the stuff I’ve written about here, please get in touch.

2 Responses to “Steve at ALA Midwinter”

  1. Steve’s explanation of WorldCat Local (WCL) implementation is an example of what Andrew Pace (OCLC) was talking about with “computing in the cloud” in his presentation at Charleston Conference in Nov 2008.

    And _rumor_ at Charleston Conference was that RDA may be surpassed (by new tech applications) before it is ever implemented.

    Thanks for attending the CCS Forum!

  2. Great report, Steve. This stuff is way above my head but I’m glad you understand it!


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