ARLIS/NY Cataloging Discussion Group meeting 6/5/2006
Held at the Bard Graduate Center

In attendance:

Karan Rinaldo (MoMA), Sherman Clarke (NYU), Steven Cohen (Pratt), Eric Wolf (NYSID), Beth Kushner (Brooklyn Museum), Cindy Wolff (Pratt), Dan Lipcan (Met), Peter Gammie (PML), Heidi Hass (PML), John Maier (Pratt), Elizabeth Lilker (NYU), Elizabeth O’Keefe (PML), Maria Oldal (PML), Cheryl Costello (BGC), Martha Repp (Yale Ctr for British Art), Vicky Bohm (Met), Carol Pardo (Columbia), Danny Fermon (MoMA), Ian Goulston (MoMA), Faith Pleasanton (Met), Deirdre Donohue (ICP), Tom Tredway (BGC), Rodica Tanjala-Krauss (Frick), Christina Peter (Frick), Jennifer Blum (FIT), Janette Rozene (FIT)

Constance Malpas (RLG New York office)


1. RLG OCLC Merger

RLG Focus Group
An RLG focus group was formed earlier in the year to provide feedback on user requested enhancements has changed focus and is now charged with providing feedback on what OCLC needs to know. Why it is important to RLG libraries to see individual records and copy-specific information. Several members have responded and Karen is compiling the results.

Local data in 852 field
Carol Pardo said that Karen Smith Yoshimura mentioned in conversation that there was talk of putting all local data in the 852/holdings field. This would require access to the holdings field. It was mentioned that local access points can’t go in the holdings, they must go in the bib record. Not just copy-specific data, all enhanced data, such as genre headings, extra tracings for exhibition venues, contents notes. This would be losing access points that apply to all copies of the book.

Martha Repp mentioned that the Bodleian Library is actually putting copy-specific information in the 852 field. Experience is that most cataloguing software can’t cope with that much information in the holdings record. Binding unique to the copy is not searchable and there are problems with provenance headings.

OCLC record structure, editing procedures and pricing
The consensus was that an OCLC master record is the 1st record submitted. This may then be overlaid by LC or an authorized enhancing library. There was mention of reports that the resulting record of an overlay is actually a combination of the original master and the enhanced record – it’s a “frankenrecord”.
The only thing non-enhancing libraries can do with a poor master record is to issue an error report. It was noted that most RLG libraries would probably apply for enhancing privileges.
Most local OCLC institutions are members through Nylink. Their pricing is based on previous usage. Nylink offers useful training courses. The overall pricing structure is complex. For example, at Pratt, they receive a monthly bill for a combination of services – subscription databases, ILL, cataloguing searches, etc.
Batch loading of locally catalogued records to OCLC is useful for ILL; also, in dense area for art libraries like NYC, easier to know where to look for a copy to use onsite.
Enhancing libraries can pull a record, enhance it and then reload it. The record is locked while it is being enhanced.

Auction catalogue records and SCIPIO
Based on research done at Columbia in preparation for a project to catalogue auction/dealer catalogues, it was found that there are very few auction catalogue records in OCLC. It was noted that NYPL catalogued their auction catalogues in OCLC as serials. The Columbia project (approx. 11,000 records) is going to piggyback on the Grolier Library.
Projected longevity of SCIPIO in its current state is around 1 year. The ownership issue may determine whether records would be transferred into WorldCat or remain a separate database. Possibility of SCIPIO becoming a FirstSearch database was discussed as FirstSearch is OCLC’s Eureka. This would be helpful as federated searching is available throught FirstSearch. It was noted that FirstSeach results are presented in order of relevance and not separated by database source.

English Short Title Catalogue is going to be free through the British Library.

Cataloguing in OCLC
Current OCLC members at the meeting said that OCLC indexes on the “staff side” are as good or better than old RLIN indexes and searches may be made across subfields.
The authority file is by word or term (if you don’t know the order). Public searching is not as powerful as that available to staff. The keyword index searches the entire record (not possible in RLIN) but, of course, this is only helpful if the data is there in the first place. OCLC members felt that cataloguing in OCLC is easier than in RLIN. OCLC is unicode compliant. OCLC seems to do much more database maintenance but this is due to the master-record structure of their records. On the negative side, it was noted that Columbia electronic resource records have been blocked from loading and OCLC is not sure why.

OCLC programs and advisory groups
It was not known whether OCLC has programs and advisory groups similar to RLG’s. There is a music libraries group but it wasn’t know if that was organized through OCLC or self-organized. OCLC representatives do sit at MARBI sessions and are active with respect to standards development.

In the merger FAQ’s it is stated that “RLG partners” will own all RLG issues such as digitization, EAD, etc. It was noted that OCLC members such as smaller historical societies that couldn’t afford to join RLIN might be interested in some of the projects without buying into the RLG preoccupations.

OCLC & z39.50
In the OCLC “Guidelines for contributions to WorldCat” ( – if you have an OCLC derived record you are supposed to make good faith efforts (“using filters and other techniques”) so other libraries won’t get your record via z39.50. The document was last updated in 2004.
It was mentioned that both RLG and OCLC have had on and off discussions for several years about inherent futility of such restrictions.

Alternatives to RLIN/OCLC
Using z39.50 with reliable individual libraries.
Sherman suggested the possibility of an OAI-style harvesting facility to find, say binding information from multiple catalogues and then index on binder.

2. Authorities

As of June 1, 2006, the Library of Congress will discontinue providing controlled access to series in bibliographic records and discontinue creation of series authority records. (

Other large institutions are considering following LC’s lead. Thomas Mann’s critical review ( of the Calhoun report ( was noted as a good resource on the issues. Thomas Mann may also have issued a response to the series issue, The Library of Congress Professional Guild website ( has a number of good essays on the future of cataloguing. It was noted that posting these essays through the union website might make them look more like job-saving rather than the insightful discussions they really are.

Columbia is going to use LTI ( processing and then flipping to 440’s. Sherman mentioned that LTI would do pretty well with 90% of the material and a lot go through copy cataloguing pretty well.

Eric said that the quality in RLIN records has been decreasing with the addition of vendor records. Sherman added that the increased move toward copy cataloguing has contributed to the overall lower quality as well.

John mentioned the need for more Arlene Taylor studies (

The need to build better metadata was mentioned, for cataloguing and metadata depts to work together. Sherman said that it was proving hard to break into the metadata “scene” at NYU. Most are non-librarian techs. These days it is not just management that is focused on digital efforst but scholars as well.

It was noted that the expertise is there but cataloguers are working with MARC, an outdated model. We lack the ability to move on the technology end. To this extent, OCLC might be beneficial as it definitely has more resources than RLG. John said that Open WorldCat is always going to lose out to Amazon on Google. Lily suggested OCLC/Google discussions. Tom asked if WorldCat results be higher up in Scholar? Probably but Scholar is still the last option on the Google search page.

It was mentioned legacy MARC data could transfer to XML but this technology has been around for years and there has been no movement in the cataloguing community to open up this way.

John said that PCC training is still available ( - 9)

Sherman said that hopefully the various ALA meetings will provide guidance for both collective and individual direction regarding series authority issues.

Danny mentioned that ALA’s reaction to LC’s announcement was reassuring. LC can’t be the record of authority if they are not going to do the work.

[Since the meeting, OCLC has issued a statement about its projected plans for dealing with LC copy without series control. If the copy already in OCLC has the series heading under control, that copy will not be fully overlaid by the LC copy. The plans look promising for tighter series control than under the LC series procedures. The OCLC message has been forwarded to ARLIS-L.]

3. Update from Constance Malpas of the RLG New York office

This week OCLC product mgrs are meeting with RLG counterparts in California to provide more detail on how service lines would be integrated. RLG is currently preparing for both possible outcomes of the vote. Right now service outlines are at a very high level due to the fundamental differences between RLIN and OCLC. They are trying to determine who needs to be consulted and what needs to be preserved.

RLG programs division and OCLC are also in discussion. OCLC’s research division embraces the RLG SHARES service. They are looking at how OCLC’s tools and technology can be applied in the SHARES environment

OCLC has more advanced OAI capabilities than RLG.

EAD - RLG communities have an interest in this area but no clear ideas for moving forward. Also a strong area of interest for OCLC

OCLC is working on a virtual international authority file (

The Vote – June 9th the ballots will be opened and the result will be announced immediately

Constance noted years of data showing decreased use of the RLG union catalogue, particularly compared to OCLC.

If the ”no” vote wins RLG will have a much narrower purview.

Constance mentioned the focus group Karen Smith Yoshimura is moderating and the call to members to explain unique aspects of RLIN that need to be preserved, how they are used and why they are important. She said that both organizations recognized that preserving access to copy-specific and local data is important and they cannot de-commission RLIN until OCLC can accommodate these needs. The focus group now has 40 members from 30 institutions.
OCLC is willing to work on the issues so it is important to give them as much information as possible as timely as possible.

Over 80% of current RLG members are involved with OCLC at some level and 70% of these members are already governing members of OCLC. RLG members connected to OCLC are disproportionately represented (for the better) at the governing level in OCLC.

OCLC is aware that research library needs are not currently addressed by OCLC products and services.

Any changes would be system-wide, not just for former RLG member records.

Most but not all OCLC use is through regional networks.

SCIPIO – will continue, Constance was not sure if the RLG SCIPIO task force would continue. If it needs to be maintained – this is important information to relay as soon as possible. She wasn’t sure if records would be a Firstsearch-style database or incorporated in WorldCat. She noted need to communicate a preference to OCLC.

OCLC advisory groups – this information fowarded to Erin Elliott and Sherman Clarke in an email from Constance Malpas (6/7/06)

Current OCLC Strategic service area advisory committees include:

Current OCLC User Groups include:

There are also a number of Geographic user groups.

In addition to all of this, Shirley Baker (Washington University,St. Louis), has written a very nice historical perspective (ca. 1997) on OCLC Advisory Committees that is available here:

OCLC has revised its governance structure.
The more libraries cataloguing in RLIN21 rather than in the local system, the stronger the argument for changes and accommodation in the system.

Questions Constance will bring to RLG & OCLC 1. How are record contributions to be made and how would the pricing structure work?
2. Would the rule that governing members contribute ALL records in their catalogue be subject to change or open for negotiation considering the new categories of members. Used example of the Morgan Library, where records for master drawings are in the OPAC, but could not be contributed to RLIN, let alone OCLC, because the curators feel this would generate too many inappropriate requests.
3. Future of SCIPIO – incorporation in WorldCat (with additional “date of sale” field, etc.) or as a standalone database?

New RLG Programs Council (elected) – OCLC & RLG representatives jointly appointed from a mix of consituencies.

RLG annual meeting, June 16th – planning exercise and working groups to deal with the outcome of the June 9th vote. If a “yes” vote, members of OCLC research staff will attend

4. Social tagging session - Sherman said that he is looking for presenters for an ARLIS Atlanta presentation on Social Tagging.

5. Next meeting – Monday, July 31st - John Maier will host at Pratt. Agenda will include ALA reports and OCLC demonstrations.

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