LC Decision on Series Authorities -- Pt. 1 (Sarah Thomas) ERCELAA@ctrvax.Vanderbilt.Edu 08 Nov 1994 19:37 UTC
LC's memorandum is being posted in two parts, due to its length. --ed. ______________ Date: Mon, 07 Nov 1994 17:30:55 -0400 (EDT) From: Sarah Thomas <stho@LOC.GOV> Subject: LC Decision on Series Authorities UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT Memorandum LIBRARY OF CONGRESS DATE: November 4, 1994 TO : Everyone with a Stake in the Series Authorities Decision FROM : Sarah E. Thomas Director for Cataloging SUBJECT : Series Authorities The Library of Congress Cataloging Directorate proposed in 1993 to eliminate series added entries and series authorities. As a result of over a year's analysis of the issue, including the broad solicitation of comments from libraries and librarians and review of recommendations of the Cooperative Cataloging Council's Series Task Group, the Library of Congress will continue to provide added entries and series authorities. The attached paper formulated by Barbara Tillett, Chief, Cataloging Policy and Support Office, provides details on the decision and recommendations that the Cataloging Directorate Management Team has endorsed. Series Description and Access Decision October 18, 1994, revised Oct. 28, 1994 Prepared by Barbara B. Tillett, Chief, Cataloging Policy and Support Office, Library of Congress The much awaited report of the Cooperative Cataloging Council's Task Group on Series Authority Records is in. The clear message from this Task Group and from the majority of respondents to LC's proposal for eliminating some categories of series added entries and series authority work is that * numbered and unnumbered series are important to many types of users and we must not diminish controlled access and that * we must continue to expand the cooperative creation and maintenance of series authority records to reduce the cumulative workload for catalogers everywhere. There also is a clear directive to continue the economic savings of having the Library of Congress (and cooperating libraries) create bibliographic and authority records once for all other libraries to use. At the Library of Congress, we have an imperative to increase the efficiency of cataloging operations and a mandate both to eliminate arrearages and to stay current with new receipts. We seek to improve ways of doing cataloging to increase productivity while maintaining accuracy and improving timeliness of record creation and maintenance, and also to reduce complexity wherever possible. For the Library of Congress to simplify, it must vastly improve its automated support of cataloging operations for internal productivity increases, continue to pursue the Program for Cooperative Cataloging to increase the availability of authority records for series for catalogers everywhere, and continue the current process of reviewing workflow and rewriting policies to aid catalogers with series decisions. Background At least as far back as the mid-1800's debates between Panizzi and the Trustees of the British Museum, library managers have called for cataloging simplification to speed up the cataloging process and reduce costs. In August 1993, the Library of Congress embarked on an investigation of the impact of eliminating certain categories of series authorities work and series added entries. The premise behind the analysis was that catalogers would realize considerable savings in the creation of bibliographic and authority work without substantial loss of access. LC's Cataloging Management Team directed a Series Group to Propose implementation plans. By December 1, 1993 the Series Group submitted its recommendations, summarized as follows: 1. Series will not be traced on analytic records of unnumbered series, unnumbered multipart items, and numbered series classified separately; the series information, transcribed as found on the publication, will be in a 490 field with a first indicator of "0." Series will be traced on analytic records of numbered series classified as collections; technical reports; and numbered, analyzable multipart items, since in these instances series authority records will already exist -- see #3 below. 2. No series authority records will be made for unnumbered series, unnumbered multipart items, numbered series classified separately, and series-like phrases. Existing series authority records (SARs) for these categories will not be regarded or updated. 3. Series authority records will be made for numbered series classified as collections, technical reports, and numbered, analyzable multipart items. Existing SARs for these categories will be updated. 4. Two additions could be made to the analytic bibliographic records to increase access to the series information and to compensate for the loss of information given now in SARs: statement of responsibility associated with the series; other title information especially when the other title information could be mistaken for the title of the series or when the statement of responsibility is included in the other title information. 5. LC catalogers/technicians and LC serial catalogers would accept series added entries in other libraries' records (copy cataloging records, NCCP records, CONSER records). NCCP and CONSER participants would have to make their own policy decisions concerning series added entries and series authority records. NACO/NCCP participants may continue to contribute SARs to the NAMES file. 6. LC should continue to provide documentation for the full range of series activities to both cooperative partners and other libraries. Following LC's distribution of the Series Group report LC received responses from a wide variety of academic, public, and special libraries, vendors, bibliographic utilities, and individuals in the United States, Canada, and England. The vast majority (72%) of responses were against LC's proposal. It was felt that LC's proposed change was directly in conflict with the cooperative philosophy being fostered for the Program for Cooperative Cataloging, and would shift the cost burden to the local level for providing controlled series access. Respondents made it clear that acquisitions and collection development activities would be adversely impacted, that keyword searching of uncontrolled series statements would not be a substitute for controlled access, and that some areas would be particularly hard hit by the loss of controlled series access for unnumbered series. There are still thousands of libraries throughout the world that rely on our cataloging and do not have automated catalogs (OPACS) for bibliographic retrieval, so we must not abandon controlled access for series. In considering compromises, it was pointed out that we, LC and the nation's libraries, could save time and effort if we eliminated control over unnumbered series. This is very appealing to those focusing only on reducing the cataloging workload. Approximately 40% of LC's series authority records are for unnumbered series, and about 13% of bib records created each year have unnumbered series (Fig. 1), so there would definitely be some savings of LC's cataloger's time were we to discontinue controlled access and stop making series authority records for these. From the cataloger's view, it would be clear that when there was no numbering, there would be no controlled access (no tracing) and no series authority record would be made. For series with a mix of numbered and unnumbered items, we would provide controlled access only to the numbered items. Series-like phrases that were unnumbered would be treated exactly the same as other series, so when numbering was present, there would be a series authority record to indicate treatment, but otherwise not. However, this would mean that the nation's catalogers would need to rely even more on cooperating libraries other than LC for shared resource authority records for unnumbered series. Many libraries already have their own series authority files to indicate local decisions that vary with LC's decisions, and by relying on the cooperating libraries, they would not necessarily have to individually establish the authority record for themselves. This past year the NACO libraries contributed 23% of all series authority records added to the national series authority file. This reflects a 144% increase in contributions from NACO participants, from 1,281 series authority records in FY93 to 3,216 in FY94, and there is every indication they will continue to increase their percentage of shared resource authority records for series. Why should LC bow out of this activity when other libraries continue to feel it is important? It was also pointed out that in the area of access, LC's online systems (and some online catalogs) can search on the uncontrolled descriptive field (490 0) either as a text string or as keywords. However, such retrieval may result in confusing displays, because unnumbered series titles often consist of nondistinctive words or are forms that would be in conflict with the controlled series yet be displayed together with them. Searching for the list of items sharing a given unnumbered series, would require the searcher to know the variant titles used over the history of that series, which would involve multiple searches. This puts a greater burden on many searchers rather than taking care of the control once by a cataloger. It was also pointed out in responses to LC's proposal on series, that not all libraries have indexed the 490 fields in their online catalogs, and many more libraries do not have online catalogs at all. Another consideration is that there are important unnumbered series. Series are sometimes a shorthand for publishers to use for their inventory, and as such are a useful mechanism for ordering ongoing materials on topics of interest. Providing controlled series access in library catalogs enables bibliographers, collection development officers, and acquisitions staff to quickly check for duplication and to verify the holdings of titles already selected for the library. The policy could be to make series authority records for only important unnumbered series, but exceptions lead to more decision making time, which slows down cataloging operations, which is something we are trying to avoid in a time of emphasis on production. As the CCC Task Group on Series Authority Records noted in their September 1994 report (p. [19-20]), "It seems simpler to be consistent in requiring authority records for all series than to introduce exceptions which will provide new decision points for catalogers." The CCC Task Group on Series Authority Records also recognized the tremendous benefits to be gained in productivity with automation of portions of series authority work, particularly the machine-assisted generation of a base authority record. This is the area that holds the most hope for significantly reducing cataloging time and increasing productivity. At the Library of Congress, the current level of automation is a serious problem that hinders operational efficiencies. However, work is underway, but still several years before being realized, for record creation - duplicate detection for headings and records - machine assisted generation of base authority records - full call number browse capability for completing call numbers (one part of shelflisting) - item level holdings records for inventory control (the other part of shelflisting: location, volume, copy, barcode, and associated notation) - online access to essential cataloging tools for all catalogers record maintenance - automated serials check in - integrated automated system to eliminate current redundant work, building instead on shared data (bibliographic, authority, holdings information) - global update all of which would greatly assist catalogers and improve productivity and cataloging operations. At the same time as we seek computer assistance, we must guarantee that our catalogers and the catalogers in cooperating libraries are given the necessary foundation and continuing training needed to sustain the high quality of the records we create and share with the world, and that our workflows are as efficient as we can make them. We are concerned about the accuracy of the information we provide and the timely availability of the records to library patrons and other libraries (acquisitions, catalogers, circulation, ILL, preservation, binding, remote storage, etc.).