ALCTS Liaisons and Representatives Report on Annual 2005 Activities in Chicago

Editor’s note: We are featuring reports on groups outside of ALCTS with whom we have formal liaisons in this separate article.

ALA Committee on Professional Ethics

The business meeting included an update on ALA Council’s Resolution on Workplace Speech and its relationship to COPE’s explanatory Questions & Answers on Librarian Speech in the Workplace, which addresses how much of employee speech rights are determined by law. COPE decided to wait for Council action on the resolution. COPE also reviewed ALA’s Draft Strategic Plan: Ahead to 2010. COPE, which began collecting information about ethics education in library schools, temporarily tabled posting course syllabi on its Web site.

The Committee concentrated on finalizing its next three programs that provide public forums to explore whether to revise the ALA Code of Ethics, in light of ALA’s recent core values discussions and the impact of antiterrorism legislation. The 2005 annual program included a panel discussion of alternate perspectives on the Code of Ethics. The 2006 midwinter meeting will provide an open forum for members to discuss the Code of Ethics. To stimulate discussion, The 2006 Annual Conference will provide perspectives on the Code by ALA leadership, including leaders of Intellectual Freedom, Core Values 2, SRRT, and the ACRL Ethics Committee.

At the Sunday COPE Program, John Buschmann (Rider College) argued that the Code of Ethics is one of several interlocking documents (with the ALA Bill of Rights, Core Values statements, etc.) that address ethics and rights. Any revision would weaken the Code. Instead, librarians and ALA should promote free inquiry, information equity, and the principles of ethics. Kate Marek (Dominican University) stressed that the ALA Code of Ethics guides library school students on professional behavior and librarians’ role in making information available to all. Students relate to the Code, particularly since it is not a prescriptive document. Naomi Caldwell (University of Rhode Island) suggested that the Code represent a global or variety of perspectives, especially those of indigenous people.
ALA Conference Program Coordinating Team
The objectives for this meeting were to familiarize members of Team 2006 with the activities that would be undertaken over the next few months, and to make a preliminary assignment of proposed programs to conference tracks. Both objectives were achieved.
ALA Web Advisory Committee
There is a current Request For Proposal (RFP) to replace the content management system used by ALA to manage the Web site content. Also of interest: online communities are on their way, and RSS feeds have recently been made available!

ALCTS is emphasizing work to enhance our own services and online presence this year. Look forward to application of some of these new tools in the future. In the meantime, explore and discuss with your respective committees and groups how these new technologies might be applied.

Since Midwinter, the committee has:
  • Reviewed, commented on, and helped distribute the RFP for the new Content Management System. Proposals were due to ALA by Friday, July 1, 2005. A copy of the RFP can be found at
  • Officially endorsed the ALA Web Style Guide. We also reviewed the plan of implementing the Guide throughout the ALA Web site.
  • Reviewed and commented on the Draft Policy and Legal Documents for the Online Communities. WAC also participated in testing the Online Communities software. The WAC Chair participated in the vendor demonstrations as well as some of the planning meetings for the Online Communities project.
  • Gathered information and recommendations on possible Usability Consultants who could be hired to review the ALA Web site.
  • Reviewed the Events Manager software.
Outstanding projects that we will be working on in the coming months:
  • Continue testing the Online Communities Software.
  • WAC and the ALA Membership Committee are collaborating to create best practices and guidelines for members-only content.
  • WAC has decided to review the Event Planner after hearing members’ complaints about the current system. WAC will compile a list of problems and enhancements and send them to the Conference Services by July 27th. WAC also hopes to test the new Event Planner when it is ready.
  • WAC will review and discuss the RUSA policy on Challenged Content on the Web site to see how it may work for other ALA pages.
Other updates and announcements:
  • ALA now has the ability to set up RSS feeds. If you would like an RSS feed set up on specific sections of the ALA Web site contact ALA ITTS at RSS feeds are currently available for the ALA news and American Libraries.
  • The Chair of the Web Advisory Committee will be invited to attend the presentations for the new CMS.
Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA) Accessibility Assembly
Established its meeting time as Monday at 11:30 a.m. for both midwinter and annual 2006. It determined that more training and librarian involvement is needed for the preconference forums to the 2005 White House Conference on Aging.

Approved cosponsorship, with the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Round Table (GLBTRT), of resolution against states requiring libraries to move materials containing references to sex, gender identity and sexual orientation out of children’s sections.

The response to an ALA member survey has been poor. The assembly encourages members to take survey, and to self-identify as having a disability.

The assembly is investigating relationships with The National Association of the Deaf and The National Organization on Disability. Possibly have someone from each of these organizations attend our meetings, and place something in their respective newsletters. The assembly would like to know how it can better serve their members.

Joint Steering Committee for Revision of AACR
The Joint Steering Committee for Revision of AACR (JSC) met both on its own and jointly with the Committee of Principals for AACR (CoP), to discuss the best way to proceed with the development of a new cataloging code to replace AACR2. Increasingly AACR2 is criticized for being too complex, too dependent upon outmoded card catalog concepts, and too difficult to apply to new types of digital resources. JSC and CoP discussed feedback received recently from library constituencies and other rule-making bodies on a draft of Part 1 of an intended new edition of AACR. The two committees reaffirmed the need to develop a new code to replace AACR2. However, the feedback was clear that a different approach is required than what was represented in the draft of Part 1. To signify the change in direction, the JSC and CoP have agreed on a new working title for the code: RDA: Resource Description and Access. RDA will be a new content standard for resource description and access designed for the digital world. RDA will provide:
  • a more flexible framework for addressing the challenges of describing digital resources;
  • data that is more readily adaptable to newly emerging, more efficient, database structures; and
  • data that is compatible with existing records already in online library catalogs because of RDA’s foundations in the principles set by AACR.
RDA will be designed as an online product for use in a Web environment. It will have the following specific features:
  • Organization around IFLA’s Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records ( FRBR) and related new data models;
  • Instructions for recording data presented independently of guidelines for data display, to provide more flexibility for records used in a variety of online environments; and
  • More “user-friendly” layout and formatting, with instructions written in “plain” English so that the code can be used more easily beyond the library world.

In addition to the constituencies formally represented on JSC and CoP, major stakeholders in the development of RDA include library administrators, system developers, metadata communities, MARC format developers and international cataloging programs. As RDA is developed, drafts of each section of the new standard will be made available for these major stakeholders to review, and the developers of RDA will actively seek feedback from all of these groups.

The publication of RDA is now planned for 2008.

A more complete report of the meetings of the Joint Steering Committee is available at:

North American Standards Institute (NISO):
NISO standards Z39.86-200X—Specifications for the Digital Talking Book. A revision of a 2002 standard. ALA voted Yes, and the standard was approved.

Z39.18-200X—Scientific and Technical Reports: Preparation, Presentation and Preservation. ALA voted Yes, and the standard was approved.

Z39.78-200X—Library Binding. This standard was up for its five-year reaffirmation. ALA voted Yes, and the standard was approved.

Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL). This was an application for recognition as a NISO Registration. A registration is intended for specifications, guidelines, best practices, and other benchmark documents, and supports lighter-weight review and accreditation than a standard. This is a revision of a 1995 standard recommended reaffirmation. ALA voted Yes and the registration was approved.

Z39.84-200X—Digital Object Identifier. This is a revision of a 2000 standard. ALA voted Yes.

Z39.19-200X—Guidelines for the Construction, Format, and Management of Monolingual Controlled Vocabularies. This is a revision of a 2003 standard. ALA voted Yes.

Z39.88-2004, The OpenURL Framework for Context-Sensitive Services, and Z39.29-2005, Bibliographic References, were approved by NISO.

ISO standards ISO DIS 19005-1—PDF-Archival (Electronic document file format for long-term preservation). This new standard defines a file format based on Adobe’s PDF that provides a way to preserve the appearance of electronic documents over time regardless of the tools and systems used to create, store, or render the files. In the absence of input, ALA voted Yes. The standard received unanimous approval to become an International Standard.

ISO 3297—ISSN. The ISO Working Group revising the ISSN reached consensus on the basic content of the new standard at its February 3-4 meeting in Amsterdam. A new mechanism called the “t-issn” will enable collocation of the various medium versions of a given title while retaining their separate ISSN’s. The first ISSN assigned will be designated the t-issn regardless of whether the serial is published in one or multiple media. An ISSN users’ group was established.

Other NISO activity:
A Blue Ribbon Panel chaired by Clifford Lynch issued its strategic planning recommendations to NISO on May 3, 2005. These recommendations are in the areas of constituencies and relationships, the changing standards lifecycle, and organizational strategies and business practices.

A prestandards workshop on Digital Rights Expression was held on May 18–19 in Denver. Prestandards workshops are small, invitational meetings intended to draw out standards needs and suggested solutions from key stakeholders and users. Additional prestandards workshops on identifiers for digital resources and digital preservation and archiving are in the planning process.

ALA was designated the Maintenance Agency for Information Services and Use: Metrics & Statistics for Libraries and Information Providers—Data Dictionary (ANSI/NISO Z39.7). ALA will serve for a period of five years.

North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG):
The 20th conference and anniversary celebration in Minneapolis, Minn. (May 18–22) was festive and intellectually stimulating. An online history captures many of NASIG’s key events. Tina Feick received the first Champion Award as the person who has made a significant impact on the serials community. NASIG 2006 will be held in beautiful Denver, Colo., May 4–7, 2006.

The dues increase passed by the membership in spring 2005 will become effective on July 1. The NASIG/ALCTS-SS Task Force to explore collaboration between the two groups will begin its work after this annual conference.