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Program for Cooperative Cataloging

The Library of Congress > Cataloging, Acquisitions > PCC > CONSER > Publication Patterns Initiative > Frequently Asked Questions
  1. What is the Publication Pattern Initiative?
  2. What is the Problem?
  3. What is the solution?
  4. Why CONSER?
  5. What is the CONSER Experiment?
  6. What are captions and patterns?
  7. Why embed data in the bibliographic record?
  8. How will the limit on the OCLC record size affect this proposal?
  9. What happens when a new pattern is needed? Where will old patterns be retained?
  10. What is the relationship between pattern data and holdings data?
  11. How will this experiment help the sharing of holdings data?
  12. What is the relationship of this experiment with the earlier CONSER task force effort to create a database of publication patterns?
  13. What if the MFHD is not sufficient?
  14. Our staff working on publication patterns don't edit OCLC. Can we participate?
  15. Our library is not using the MARC Format for Holdings Data. Can we participate?
  16. What kind of training or documentation will we receive?
  17. Who do I contact for more information?

1. What is the Publication Pattern Initiative?

The Publication Patterns Initiative was begun in 2000 to promote use of the MARC 21 Format for Holdings Data (MFHD) and enhance the sharing of publication pattern data in OCLC bibliographic records. Many useful tools and ideas were developed along the way. The Initiative resulted in the development of guidelines for input, addition of patterns fields to over 65,000 OCLC records, the development of the SCCTP Holdings Workshop, and many other useful tools to down load patterns data for many different library systems.

Those collaborating in the effort include libraries with CONSER authorization to modify records, representatives from the major library systems, MARC holdings experts, OCLC and RLIN staff, and representatives of major subscription agencies. Several task groups were formed over the years and developed models for a universal holdings record, recommendations for long term storage of holdings data, and outreach to publishers and vendor communities to promote the use of standards such as ONIX for serials and ISSN-L. The SCCTP Holdings Workshop and other training tools were also primary results of the effort.

As of August 18, 2010 participating libraries still add publication patterns data to records in OCLC, the SCCTP Holdings Workshop has been updated and delivered in a live online format, and efforts to promote the use of holdings related standards are now shared with other groups including the ALCTS CRS Committee on Holdings Information

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2. What is the Problem?

Many libraries are in the process of implementing new integrated library systems that use predictive check-in and require the creation of publication patterns for each title. Each library is examining the serial to determine the appropriate pattern and coding this pattern within their local system. Depending on the system, the pattern may be based entirely or only partially on the MARC Format for Holdings Data (MFHD). Currently, there is no way in which to share this effort, as there is in the creation of bibliographic records.

A related problem is that because system usage of the MFHD varies, check-in records often cannot migrate from one system to another. Thus, when a new system is implemented, staff must start from scratch creating new check-in records, and often the affiliated holdings records as well.

In the area of holdings, there is also much divergence. Holdings have been created using a variety of different methods, including free text summaries in local systems, OCLC local data records (LDRs), field 049 in the OCLC bibliographic record, or according to the MFHD. Use of Z39.50 opens up new possibilities for libraries to share holdings data; however, holdings data cannot be shared unless it is created and communicated in a standardized way.

A final problem is that there is no easy way for libraries to determine what has been published of a serial, as opposed to what an individual library owns.

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3. What is the solution?

CONSER's long term goal is to promote standardization and sharing of data. If library staff found publication pattern data within existing OCLC records, they would have ready access to that data and would not have to create it themselves. Achieving this goal may involve revising the format, encouraging system vendors to more fully use the format, educating library staff in the use of the format, and finding the right partners and vehicles for contribution and sharing of pattern/holdings data. Pattern and holdings data must be as easy to share and communicate as bibliographic data. Through cooperation and standardization, libraries will realize significant cost savings and patrons will more readily find their materials.

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4. Why CONSER?

While CONSER has traditionally limited its scope to the bibliographic record, its success with standardizing the creation and sharing of bibliographic data makes the CONSER Program a natural candidate for a leading role in the equally important areas of serials control and holdings. Furthermore, working with patterns is not a new effort for CONSER. During the early 1990's a CONSER task force investigated the creation of a publication pattern database (see below). The earlier effort was not feasible at the time because not enough libraries were using the MFHD. With the current move to predictive check-in systems and the need to be able to share holdings data via Z39.50, the time seems right for CONSER to renew its interest in this area.

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5. What is the CONSER Experiment?

The primary purpose of the CONSER experiment is to gather data to assess our current ability and inability to share pattern data via CONSER records. Selective CONSER and CONSER Enhance libraries will add MARC holdings data, the captions and patterns (field 853) and related holdings (field 863), to bibliographic records for serial titles. This data will represent the current pattern for the principal work; fields for supplements and indexes (854-55/864-65) will not be added due to space limitations in records. To get the project started, CONSER records will be 'seeded' with holdings data from several large libraries.

As a result of the experiment we hope to learn more about the usefulness of such data and be able to project time and cost savings to libraries. We also hope to learn what the stumbling blocks are to sharing pattern data. These may include different system's implementation of the MARC Format for Holdings Data (MFHD), inadequacies of the format itself, problems with import and export of pattern data, and issues relating to staffing and workflow.

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6. What are captions and patterns?

A caption "is the word, phrase, or abbreviation indicating the bibliographic unit into which a serial or multipart item has been divided by the publisher." Examples include volume, number, part, year, season, etc. and their abbreviations. A pattern is correlated with the captions to establish publication intervals, number of lower units per higher unit, and relationship of numbering systems (whether the lower unit restarts numbering when the higher unit increments or continues to increment independently). These correlations enable the check-in system to predict the next issue of most titles. In turn, the captions are correlated with the actual enumeration and chronology to display holdings to the user. How do you expect people to use these patterns?

If the software were written to do so, vendors could transfer the data from the CONSER bibliographic record to the serial control record as the bibliographic record is loaded into the local system. The data from the caption and pattern fields could be transferred into the serial control record or item record with no human intervention. Currently, most systems require that staff do the initial work manually. Library staff could retrieve the CONSER bibliographic record, and use the data contained in the publication pattern field to manually create a serial check in record. As libraries have benefitted from copy cataloging, they would now benefit from copying publication patterns. The mental effort and skill required for original record creation would be reduced. Staff could copy and paste or type what they found in the OCLC record into the local system.

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7. Why embed data in the bibliographic record?

Library staff are used to searching for data in OCLC and importing CONSER records. Thus, housing the current publication pattern in the CONSER record for import into a system makes the most sense.

In order to facilitate the experiment, OCLC is defining a new field 891 that will be used in bibliographic records to carry holdings data. Fields 853 and 863 will be embedded within the 891 field. By adding indicators and subfields, a CONSER library can include all the coding necessary to enable the data to be imported, with only slight changes, into a MARC holdings record or MARC-based serial check in record as a regular coded field.

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8. How will the limit on the OCLC record size affect this proposal?

For most records, there is sufficient room to accommodate the additional data, which in most cases will consist of two fields. OCLC does have a restriction on record size and some records have reached that length, however, the removal of LC local fields 890, 901, and 911 should provide some room. CONSER is also investigating the removal of abstracting and indexing services coverage data (field 510) to a different site. But for the time being, the addition of a single pair of 891 fields containing the 853/863 data should not place an undue burden on record size.

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9. What happens when a new pattern is needed? Where will old patterns be retained?

New patterns and their associated holdings field will be added by participants as soon as they are aware of a change. There is currently no place to store the former 853/863 fields and this data will be retained in the CONSER record as long as there is room. Eventually a different storage location will be devised and old data will be removed to that location.

One alternative would be to store holdings and patterns on a separate database with a link to the CONSER record. Another alternative would be a separate screen attached to the OCLC record that would display the "master" holdings record. Both of these alternatives would require significant work to create and are not currently feasible.

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10. What is the relationship between pattern data and holdings data?

In the MARC holdings format, 853, 854, and 855 fields define the publication pattern of a work. (Field 853 is for the basic work, while 854 and 855 are for supplements and indexes.) Fields 863, 864, and 865 fields define the holdings, i.e. the enumeration and chronology (numbers and time span) that apply to the published parts (issues, volumes, etc.) that use that pattern. For purposes of the CONSER experiment, the holdings given in field 863 for the basic work will probably be limited to a single issue that will indicate when the pattern became applicable to the serial.

Following are an 853 field for a journal and the associated 863 field for the first issue:

891 00 $9 853 $8 1 $a v. $b no. $u 12 $v r $i (year) $j month $w m $x 01

891 30 $9 863 $8 1.1 $a 1 $b 1 $i 1987 $j 01

In this case, the journal has two levels of enumeration: v. ($a), no. ($b) and the chronology consists of year ($i) and month ($j). It is monthly ($w) with 12 numbers per volume ($u) and begins in January ($x). The first issue for the which the pattern is appropriate, as indicated in the 863 field, is v. 1, no.1, January 1987.

If the pattern/holdings data is being added to a record and the issue is not the first for which the pattern would be applicable (e.g., the library is newly-establishing a predictive check-in record as part of new ILS implementation), the issue in hand can be given in angle brackets. For example,

891 10 $9 853 $8 1 $a v. $b no. $u 12 $v r $i (year) $j month $w m $x 01

891 40 $9 863 $8 1.1 $a <14> $b <2> $i <1999> $j <02>

(Angle brackets are routinely used in cataloging records to indicate an issue to which the data applies that is not the first or last.)

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11. How will this experiment help the sharing of holdings data?

While facilitating the sharing of local holdings data is not the focus of the CONSER task force effort, it could be an important by-product. If, because of the CONSER effort, more libraries begin using the MFHD to create their holdings in order to take advantage of data in CONSER records and the potential associated Web site, the impact on standardization could be very positive. In addition, CONSER could use its ability to share documentation and training in order to promote the use of the MFHD.

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12. What is the relationship of this experiment with the earlier CONSER task force effort to create a database of publication patterns?

If we were to examine a representative sample of publications, we would find that there are a large, but still finite, number of publication patterns, some which occur more often than others. It would be possible to provide a list or database of the possible alternative patterns that might be encountered when dealing with updated publications. In fact, some integrated online library system vendors have serial control systems that now provide an extensive list of publication pattern templates to choose from during setup of check in records. From the list provided, staff select the pattern template that best describes each work in hand. These patterns templates do not include information specific to any one serial, such as which issues are combined/omitted or when the calendar years begins. Creating such a database was the focus of the CONSER task force during the early 1990's. However, if only a database of pattern templates was created, staff would have to determine which template is appropriate and then add data to make that pattern template fit the particular serial. With a database of CONSER records containing MFHD publication patterns, the pattern data is more complete and is connected to the title to which it applies. Under the current scenario, the CONSER records would contain the complete MARC 853 pattern for import into the local system.

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13. What if the MFHD is not sufficient?

CONSER Task Force members will be working with system vendors, the ALCTS Serials Section Committee to Study Serial Standards, and the Network Development and MARC Standards Office to determine where the format needs improvement and to recommend changes.

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14. Our staff working on publication patterns don't edit OCLC. Can we participate?

It is recognized that check in workflows differ from one institution or library to another, and that in many, the staff who create publication patterns are not the same staff that catalog or update CONSER records. It is also probable that in large libraries, this differentiation or specialization is greater than it usually is in smaller libraries. This differentiation may mean that staff other than CONSER catalogers are given the authorization to update CONSER records under the guidance of the CONSER catalogers. This may be essential in order to assure timeliness of data input.

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15. Our library is not using the MARC Format for Holdings Data. Can we participate?

It is certainly possible to input this data even if your system does not use the MARC Format for Holdings Data. It may be advantageous to participate, especially if your library is using an automated serials control system which is capable of predicting receipt of issues, because that system is probably based on similar values. It will unquestionably be harder to participate under these conditions and possibly more difficult to make local use of the data as readily. We encourage all libraries contemplating participation to consult with the Task Force about what participation will entail and how it may be accomplished.

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16. What kind of training or documentation will we receive?

Frieda Rosenberg is currently developing an editing guide for pattern/holdings data that will be available on the CONSER Web site for use during the experiment and could eventually be added to the CONSER Editing Guide. There is no specific training scheduled at this time. However, it is possible that holdings training could be added to the roster of courses in the Serials Cataloging Cooperative Training Program.

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17. Who do I contact for more information?

Please feel free to contact the CONSER Coordinator to discuss your institution's involvement in the CONSER experiment.

Les Hawkins
CONSER Coordinator
Library of Congress
(202) 707-5947
lhaw@loc.gov

prepared by Mary Ann Van Cura and Jean Hirons,
CONSER Task Force on Publication Patterns and Holdings

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