Technical Services Directors of Large Research Libraries Discussion Group
(“Big Heads”)
ALA Midwinter 2001

A group is looking at the quality of various records available in the utilities, especially vendor and BIBCO records. They are trying the answer these questions: how much overlap is there between research collections; what records are accepted as is or with cursory overview; what is the effect of the availability of records for aggregator sets; what is the role of classification in an increasingly electronic world. David Banush (of Cornell, formerly NYU) will conduct a survey about attitudes toward core records. There was also discussion of overlay of records. For example, the University of Chicago is using MARCADIA for finding enhanced records. The principal problem is retaining important local changes while receiving the advantage of records that have been enhanced in the utilities by another library. Classification is seen as one of the biggest barriers to routine acceptance of copy from the utilities. Some libraries are doing standard classification on bib records in order to make them BIBCO even though they don’t use the number themselves (e.g. Columbia items for Avery Library which uses a local classfication scheme). A batch loading task force, chaired by Ed Weissman of Cornell, will look at the various issues.

Big Heads adopted new membership rules. Virginia and Penn State have been added and Northwestern has been dropped.

A poll of single vs. multiple records for versions was undertaken: 17 use single records for serials in multiple formats, 14 use multiple records for monographs in multiple formats. Many of the responses were understandably related to the efficacy of various local systems in handling displays. MARBI has looked at ways to handle separate records and the conflated displays which are generally accepted as advantageous for the user. No conflation miracle has yet been implemented though it was generally agreed that multiple records are best in the utilities since the single-record approach reflects a library’s particular holdings in various formats. One library mentioned that it has six ways to get to a particular e-journal. It was mentioned that it might be time to look again at the three-level model which was rejected by the Airlie House conference on multiple versions. One of the BIBCONTROL groups looked at system architecture, including possible methods for post-cataloging conflation of the display for a particular work.

Tim Jewell of the University of Washington reported on his work on licenses for electronic resources. Several databases are being used by various libraries to track licenses. Some of the data collected for licensing purposes may be helpful in cataloging and in determination of the appropriate place(s) to provide access to a resource (opac vs. subject web page).