Abstracts Vol. 49, No. 3


Promoting Research and Best Practices in Subject Reference Structures:
A Decade of Work by the Subject Analysis Committee

David Miller, Tony Olson, and Sara Shatford Layne

In 2004, the ALCTS Cataloging and Classification Section Subject Analysis Committee (SAC) produced the report “Recommendations for Providing Access to, Display of, Navigation within and among, and Modifications of Existing Practice Regarding Subject Reference Structures in Automated Systems.” This document is one important outcome of nearly ten years’ work by three SAC subcommittees investigating the theoretical, pragmatic, and political dimensions of improving subject access through better use of reference structure data. The work of those subcommittees is reviewed and their recommendations are described and summarized. Potential future effects of the report are discussed, as is a snapshot view of several major automation systems’ current compliance with the recommendations.

Factors Influencing Competency Perceptions and Expectations of Technical Services Administrators

Norm Medeiros

This study investigates the factors that influence perceived and expected daily task competencies for technical services administrators; that is, the competencies technical services administrators claim to possess (perceived) and those they believe they ought to possess (expected) in the areas of acquisitions, cataloging, and serials. For the purposes of this paper, a technical services administrator is defined as one who oversees, at a minimum, the acquisitions, cataloging, and serials units in his or her library. The author surveyed 116 technical services administrators via e-mail in fall 2003, receiving a response rate of 54 percent and an acceptable use rate of 53 percent. The survey was designed to correlate perceived and expected competencies with: (1) an incumbent’s professional background; (2) tenure in current position at present institution; and (3) size of technical services unit as measured in full-time equivalents (FTE). The study concludes that incumbent tenure and size of the technical services unit affect both perceived and expected competencies, with the latter having a greater effect. Professional background affects competency possession, but has only a marginal effect on competency expectation. The findings reveal that administrators with ten or more years in their current positions who have noncataloging backgrounds and at least ten FTE in their technical services units are least likely to know the daily procedures of their technical services units. Administrators with ten or more years in their current positions who have cataloging backgrounds and at least ten FTE in their technical services units are least likely to feel they ought to know the daily procedures of their technical services departments. These administrators are also least likely to have responsibilities that fall outside of technical services.

FRBR: Coming Soon to Your Library?

Jennifer Bowen

The Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) data model holds great potential for improving access to library resources, but may not affect all libraries in the same way. The Joint Steering Committee for Revision of AACR, assisted by the work of its Format Variation Working Group, is exploring ways to incorporate FRBR into the next edition of the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules to facilitate collocation at the level of the FRBR entity expression. Several library system vendors are also adding FRBR-based functionality to their systems. A combination of these two approaches to FRBR can provide significant benefits to users. Most FRBR entities and attributes are already present in library catalog records, and the influence of FRBR can also be seen in existing library activities. FRBR is thus not something totally foreign, but a fresh, more rigorous way of thinking about what libraries already do that provides a basis for designing new ways to improve users’ access to library resources.

Rehabilitating Killer Serials:
An Automated Strategy for Maintaining E-journal Metadata

David Banush, Martin Kurth, and Jean Pajerek

Cornell University Library (CUL) has developed a largely automated method for providing title-level catalog access to electronic journals made available through aggregator packages. CUL’s technique for automated e-journal record creation and maintenance relies largely on the conversion of externally supplied metadata into streamlined, abbreviated-level MARC records. Unlike the Cooperative Online Serials Cataloging Program’s recently implemented “aggregator-neutral” approach to e-journal cataloging, CUL’s method involves the creation of a separate bibliographic record for each version of an e-journal title in order to facilitate automated record maintenance. An indexed local field indicates the aggregation to which each title belongs and enables machine manipulation of all the records associated with a specific aggregation. Information encoded in another locally defined field facilitates the identification of all of the library’s e-journal titles and allows for the automatic generation of a Web-based title list of e-journals.CUL’s approach to providing title-level catalog access to its e-journal aggregations involves a number of tradeoffs in which some elements of traditional bibliographic description (such as subject headings and linking fields) are sacrificed in the interest of timeliness and affordability. URLs and holdings information are updated on a regular basis by use of automated methods that save on staff costs.

A Comparative Study of Amazon.com As a Library Book and Media Vendor

Paul Orkiszewski

Amazon.com offers convenience, Web extras, and competitive pricing to its customers. Does this mean it could be a major player in the library marketplace? To answer the hypothetical question “What if the library bought everything from Amazon?” this paper reports on an in-house study of Amazon’s potential and performance as a library vendor, using order data from the Belk Library at Appalachian State University.

Floating Bibs and Orphan Bar Codes:
Benefits of an Inventory at a Small College

Linda Ernick

This paper describes an inventory project completed at a small college during summer 2004, including the approach used, problems encountered, and benefits that resulted. It provides a step-by-step account of how the inventory was conducted using Innovative Interfaces’ Millennium software with a laptop and a laser scanner. The intent in providing this level of detail is to assist others who might be undertaking an inventory for the first time, in the hope that much of what applies to Millennium software will apply to other library software systems as well.