In principle I share the unease that others have voiced about "excluding"
those who contribute only a small number of SACO proposals, or who do so
only infrequently. I, too, am concerned about what the program might lose -
it might not be much in purely statistical terms, but who's to say just how
valuable those authority records are to the rest of the community. Some of
the proposals might be picked up by others if the "small" players were
excluded, but 9a) we can't be sure of that, and (b) we also can't be sure
that the quality of a proposal coming from a "generalist" institution would
be as high as that from a "specialist".
Picking up on Jimmie's message from Tuesday - he's suggesting that any
BIBCO/CONSER/NACO member would be, de facto, eligible for SACO membership.
I'm guessing here that this assumes they want to, and are willing to sign up
to the "responsibilities and benefits" we'll be looking at next week. On top
of that there's going to have to be some sort of SACO-only membership for
those who aren't already in the other programs (see the stats sheets for
details). I don't think we can ignore this last group - for which either
minimum levels of activity and/or funnels may still be a necessity.
The potential problem with that overall scenario is that SACO is left with
as many, if not more, members as at present. Personally I have no problem
with this - providing everyone's prepared to sign up to, and adhere to, the
"responsibilities and benefits". But Fenly's report points in another
direction - one which we seem collectively to be antipathetic towards (but
on the basis of just 3 days' work on our charge...).
I wasn't sure I learned much from the CONSER membership categories, except
they made a point of allowing in the specialists and funnels ("projects" in
CONSER terminology, I think) with fewer contributions than the rest -
something with which I'm also quite comfortable, if we end up having to go
for a "numbers"-based solution.
We are obliged only to "recommend parameters for membership". We don't have
to follow Fenly's recommendations. But those recommendations didn't come out
of thin air, and must have been prompted by what he found during his
investigations. What we haven't heard yet are the reasons which led Fenly to
say what he did.
I return to a couple of things I said earlier in the week coming out of
"Is there a relationship between quality and quantity? Underpinning Fenly's
thesis is an assumption that the fewer contributions an institution makes
the less reliable the quality?"
"I think we need to be clearer about the reasoning behind the "minimum"
level of contribution."
Unless we have some magic way of getting inside Fenly's mind (as in "Being
John Malkovich" perhaps - and I don't look a bit like John Cusack...) then I
can't help thinking we need more background information on these issues to
guide our deliberations.
Regards to all,
Head of Cataloguing, Cambridge University Library
West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DR, England
email: [log in to unmask] fax: +44 (0)1223 333160
phone: +44 (0)1223 333069 (with voicemail) or
phone: +44 (0)1223 333000 (ask for pager 036)