Well, it looks like I’m bringing up the rear on reporting on my experience at the 2014 ALA Midwinter Conference, which is somewhat ironic, because I think I was the first person from ZSR to fly up to Philly. I had to get in town two days earlier than I normally would, so I could attend an all-day meeting of the NASIG Executive Board. NASIG isn’t affiliated with ALA, so we met off the conference grid, at the main library of the University of Pennsylvania. I can’t talk much about what we discussed because much of the material is confidential, but I can say that we discussed plans for our 2015 conference in Washington, D.C. The 2015 conference will feature NASIG’s first joint programming with another organization, namely the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP). It will also be NASIG’s 30th conference, which will require a special celebration. And it’ll be the year that I’m serving as NASIG’s President, so I’ll get to be right in the thick of planning it.
As for ALA Midwinter proper, much of my involvement revolved around committee meetings. My big committee responsibility is CC:DA (Catalog Committee: Description and Access), which develops ALA’s position on RDA. That means that we read and discuss proposed changes to RDA that come in from all sorts of constituencies. It’s been really interesting to see how the process works. I won’t bore you all by describing it in detail here, but I’d be happy to talk about it with anyone who is interested. CC:DA met for 4.5 hours on one day and 3 hours on another day, which is kind of a lot. We voted and an approved a couple of proposals (which will now move up to the Joint Steering Committee, which is the final arbiter of RDA), and had vigorous debate about several other proposals, including one on how to record the duration of recordings and one on a problem that has the colorfully melodramatic nickname “the cascading vortex of horror.” The committee also saw a presentation on the RDA/ONIX Framework, which would radically change how resource content and resource carriers are described. The RDA/ONIX Framework is years away from implementation (consensus needs to be developed among the relevant constituencies), but it promises to enormously facilitate the machine processing of catalog data (including things like natural language searching), by providing a means to record very specific, very granular data. For example, the Framework allows for recording the sensory mode used to access a resource (sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell), the dimensionality of the resource (2-dimensional, 3-dimensional), and the movement of an image (still, moving). That’s just a taste of the level of detail that it would be possible to record if the Framework were adopted. It’s pretty complex and dense stuff, and I know I only grasped a portion of it. On the more practical level, I have volunteered to serve on a CC:DA task force that has been working for a year or two on developing a list of personal relationship designators (things like father-son, teacher-student, etc.) for RDA.
On to other topics, Carolyn has already done an admirable job of recounting the Authority Control Interest Group meeting, so I will mention the Cataloging & Classification Research Interest Group session. We saw a presentation about an interesting project called the ProMusic Database, which is trying to make it easier to track the identity and roles of musicians, which can be tricky when you look at what a person did on a particular record. The example used was Quincy Jones, who is a composer, a performer and a producer. The ProMusic Database makes it easier to figure out what role or roles Quincy played with a given record. It is a joint project that involves the extensive databases of musician unions, music companies, etc. These professional organizations have a great interest in tracking this data, so they can track things like royalty payments to musicians.
I ended my Midwinter by attending the Update Forum of the Continuing Resources Cataloging Committee (which is another committee that I belong to). Much of it was inside baseball that would be of no interest to anyone but me, but one very interesting thing is that the ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) Centers are going to start assigning ISSNs to institutional repositories. So IRs are starting to be thought of as default continuing resources. Go figure.