Thursday, September 20, 2007

“Unique Identifiers in Libraries: ISSN Revision” by Regina Romano Reynolds

Reynolds, Head of the National Serials Data Program, looks at ISSN (International Standard Serials Number) and its changing role due to the proliferation of various formats for a given title. In 2003, an international working group was formed to revise the standard. In a world of electronic resources, the ISSN is a vital data element for periodical access management systems (PAMS), electronic resource management systems (ERMS), abstracting & indexing services, and OpenURL link resolvers, to name a few. After providing background information on new and old uses for ISSN, Reynolds provides an overview of the revision process and explains the changes resulting from it. As I’ve reported earlier, the result of this work is the ISSN-L or linking ISSN. The ISSN-L is a title level identifier, but each manifestation of that title will also continue to carry a unique ISSN. The first ISSN assigned (regardless of format) will also function as the ISSN-L. Planning for ISSN-L implementation, including data distribution, was underway at the time the article was written. This article will be of interest to folks following the ISSN revision process over the past few years, but will also get others up to speed who are just now finding out about the changes.

Reynolds’s article can be found in the Serials Librarian, vol. 53, no. 1/2 (2007), pages 125-137.

“Confessions of a Correspondent from the Choice-of-Entry War: Review of Responses to a Set of Informal Opinion Surveys” by Andrew D. Shroyer

Shroyer’s article is the fourth in a quartet on the latest entry versus successive entry debate. He surveyed both catalogers and public services librarians, using separate survey instruments for each group, in his exploration of the topic. Both raw data and evaluative summaries of his survey findings are provided in the article. Both groups leaned more towards latest entry cataloging leading him to conclude, “a fresh exploration of the rules governing choice of entry, in terms of both principles and practicalities, would be timely and could be productive.”

Shroyer’s article can be found in the Serials Librarian, vol. 53, no. 1/2 (2007), pages 99-123.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

“How Successive Entry Cataloging Stacks Up in Today’s World” by Mary Grenci

Grenci adds another assessment to the successive entry versus latest entry debate. She considers arguments about which method is most practical and efficient for catalogers, noting the difficulties in researching a serial’s history in latest entry cataloging and the time spent creating or editing new records under successive entry. She concludes that both methods require time and effort to determine “what’s going on” on the part of a cataloger. She then considers the user perspective. She provides a rebuttal to the argument that latest entry is best for users, pointing out that most users don’t care about a serial’s history--they simply want to find the title that matches their citation! On the other hand, long browse displays or receiving a large number of hits can be confusing. Latest entry records may result in false hits if portions of the serial run are not owned. Like Randall, she looks to improved catalog displays as the solution to serials confusion. She cites the issuance of the FRBR report as an important step forward and briefly mentions the concept of the “superwork.” While acknowledging arguments on either side, Grenci ultimately advocates for a combination of successive entry cataloging and improved library catalogs as the best option for the future.

Grenci's article can be found in the Serials Librarian, vol. 53, no. 1/2 (2007), pages 93-98.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

“Latest Entry Legacies: Confessions of a Guerrilla Cataloger” by Kevin M. Randall

Kevin Randall looks at the history of serials cataloging practices at Northwestern University, which used latest entry cataloging from the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s ignoring the standard of successive entry cataloging. He discusses some of the problems encountered in using latest entry in addition to its advantages. From the cataloging perspective, he mentions that quick copy-cataloging of successive entry records is often easier than local maintenance with latest entry cataloging. Randall's evaluation of latest entry versus successive entry is more balanced than in the Baia article. He also gives more credit to the potential of FRBR stating,
“If any ideal solution is to be found, it is in more sophisticated OPAC development to utilize data encoded in the MARC records." He goes on to say that it does not matter to the user if one record or several are used, what is important is the display of the data. Randall concludes that successive entry is “our only real hope” in the current environment.

You'll find Randall's article in the Serials Librarian, vol. 53, no. 1/2 (2007), pages 81-91.

“Excessive Successive: Time for a Radical Change” by Wendy Baia

Wendy Baia makes an impassioned plea for a return to latest entry cataloging in her article, “Excessive Successive: Time for a Radical Change.” She first provides a brief history documenting her own experiences over a 40-year career with both latest entry and successive entry cataloging. She then uses the example of Organic Gardening to illustrate the differences between what successive entry looks like compared to latest entry cataloging. (She makes a technical error in suggesting that the OG record covering the years 2001-2003 should be marked for deletion—that title change happened prior to the Dec. 2002 implementation of major and minor title changes and so was correct at the time it was cataloged.) [Note: She presents her evidence as 6 records in successive cataloging versus only 1 with latest entry. However successive record #6 was input incorrectly, leaving 5 successive records, and if all those changes had occured after the Dec. 2002 minor title change rules were implemented, there would be only 2 successive entry records.]

The real meat of the article comes in the section, “What’s Wrong with Latest Entry Cataloging?” where Baia presents 13 criticisms of latest entry cataloging and her responses to them. She mentions FRBR, although in my opinion dismisses FRBRized displays as a solution too easily. She also argues that “using one record to represent one serial fulfills the FRBR goal to promote users’ ability to find, identify, select, and obtain resources.” However, I would argue that data elements within records are far more vital to achieving those user tasks than simply the number of records that exist. (See Table 6.3 on pages 93-95 of Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records.) Even though she hasn’t quite convinced me, overall the article is thought-provoking and well-worth reading as she presents both user-focused reasons for, as well as possible workflow advantages to latest entry cataloging.

You'll find Baia's article in the Serials Librarian, vol. 53, no. 1/2 (2007), pages 57-80.

New Issue of the Serials Librarian

A new issue of the Serials Librarian has just been published: vol. 53, no. 1/2 (2007). It contains several articles of interest to serials catalogers including a special section of 4 articles on successive vs. latest entry. It will take me awhile to get them read and reviewed, so be patient.