ALA, Boston, day 1
I kicked off by participating in a small discussion group hosted by OCLC on implementing the concepts of the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records, commonly known as FRBR (pronounced ferber). By exploiting the relationships between our current manifestation level records, search results can be grouped and presented to users in more meaningful ways, as well as retrieving relevant results that otherwise would be missed and eliminating irrelevant results. There are good examples already in the VTLS system and RedLightGreen, and OCLC’s FictionFinder and xISBN services. But there is scope for more, such as grouping and filtering results according to the user’s preferences. Cataloguing efficiencies could be achieved and quality and consistency of cataloguing improved by sharing records at the Work level. This is all getting closer to becoming a reality, with the changes to content rules coming through in AACR3 and with XML-based technologies.
Standards was the theme of my other two sessions. ‘Codified Innovations: Data Standards and their Useful Applications’ focused on standards relating to the control of e-journals. This is a field that is suffering from a combination of a lack of standardisation and a lack of implementation of available standards. Frieda Rosenberg and Diane Hillman have done some interesting work recently on holdings data, where a lack of standardisation is, for example, impeding the quality of results from link resolvers. Their work also called on FRBR concepts: An approach to Serials with FRBR in Mind. We also had an update on the revision ISSN, which has had a very troublesome time finding its way through deeply conflicting interests. It seems that consensus has formed around re-affirming the current definition, with the expectation or hope that the process of doing this will lead to publishers being more consistent in applying the ISSN assignment rules. There will also be a new, title-level ISSN to support library requirements and it is hoped that a place in MARC field 024 can be defined for it.
Finally, the Automation Vendor Information Advisory Committee (AVIAC) explored the issues for systems vendors aound the implementation of 13-digit ISBNs. Those present seemed to have a fair grasp of the implications and we heard some useful background information from a member of the ISO ISBN Revision Committee. A key point for me was that library system vendors should not ignore the possibility that their customers might want to use the 14-digit Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), where the extra digit specifies an aggregation of a particular product such as a carton of the new Harry Potter. More on this when I give my presentation on Monday.