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PCCLIST  May 2006

PCCLIST May 2006

Subject:

LC series decision: LC’s future with PCC

From:

Paul Weiss <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Program for Cooperative Cataloging <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 24 May 2006 12:11:47 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (102 lines)

LC series decision: LC’s future with PCC

Given LC’s total lack of consultation with PCC and, as I understand it,
with its own staff that work on PCC matters, it is hard to believe
statements from LC that it wants to continue to play a leadership role
within PCC and that it believes that the series issue will not impact its
ability to do so. My trust in the LC administration’s desire to work in
collaboration within the broader community is rapidly dwindling. I will of
course continue to work with many LC staff, but I no longer assume that LC
as an institution is working in good faith. Many of us are wondering what
other unilateral no-consultation, immediate-implementation decisions LC
will make.

On May 19, exactly 4 weeks after his original public announcement of the
decision, in a message that I believe was only sent directly to the PCC
Policy Committee, Beacher Wiggins (Director, Acquisitions and
Bibliographic Access, LC) wrote that it was time for him to “reaffirm both
my and LC's commitment to PCC” and “that LC is firmly supportive of PCC”.
Given the level of concern expressed throughout libraryland, it would seem
to me that if LC felt it was important to stand with PCC, it would have
done so sooner and more broadly. I appreciate that he stated that he
should have communicated earlier and given more lead time. If LC were
truly supportive of and collaborative within of PCC, however, it would not
unilaterally violate PCC’s standards. It would have either come to PCC to
talk about changes such as CONSER copy cataloging records and series
authority work before it implemented them, or it would at least clearly
identify them as non-PCC records.

Beacher says that he didn’t seek consultation because he didn’t think it
would be any different than it had been a decade earlier. On the one hand,
I definitely appreciate that LC did not pretend to want feedback if it had
already made a decision. On the other hand, I find this insulting: if LC
had a change in thinking over the past decade, why might that not have
been true in the broader community? And so what if it was the same? If you
are making a change that has substantive impacts for a group you are a
member of, don’t they deserve the respect to be consulted again after 10
years?

He goes on to say that LC “will submit or not its bibliographic records
according to the guidelines in place; will not try to have the guidelines
bent for us; is committed to executing its role as the PCC secretariat; is
willing to support the needs of PCC related to series, i.e., will sustain
documentation, will help with training”. I appreciate these
clarifications, as they were not at all clear earlier. I’m quite open to
looking at broadening PCC guidelines to incorporate LC’s changes; the
point is we want to work together, not by fiat.

Beacher also says that LC “still views authority control, including
controlled subject terminology, as a central tenet of what we (LC and
catalogers)”. This seems to contradict other communication from LC, which
again causes me concern about what we can expect from LC, and how much we
can trust their communications. He also says “I look forward to our
continuing strong collaboration under the banner of PCC”. I do not feel
that there has been “strong collaboration” for a couple of years now, but
I do hope that we will again get to that point. As much as I really,
really, really want to believe what Beacher says, I can’t help wondering
whether LC is being disingenuous. Actions will speak louder than words.

Individual member institutions of PCC, including LC, need to make local
decisions, for a multitude of reasons, that may cause some of their
records to not be in compliance with PCC standards. I think that it is
important to continue allowing PCC institutions to retain participation in
PCC regardless of whether they contribute all their records as PCC or just
some. When records are not in compliance with PCC records, they should not
be labeled as such.

PCC’s current mission states that the Program “will seek to cooperatively
increase the timely availability of authoritative records created and
maintained under accepted standards”. Unfortunately this is not LC’s first
non-consultative decision to abandon PCC standards. Last year, LC
unilaterally decided to submit serials copy cataloging records that did
not meet CONSER standards, and continued to identify them as PCC records,
before even discussing it with PCC.

Deanna Marcum (Associate Librarian for Library Services, LC) has written:
“Big changes are on the way. The series authority records are but the
first step in refocusing the Library of Congress to take advantage of the
promises of technology, to focus on actual needs of information seekers,
and to build a 21st century library that is as effective in the digital
age as the traditional library has been in the world of print.” I’m glad
that she is moving LC in a direction that she feels will help LC best meet
its goals, and I’m excited about LC using technology more proactively. And
I am especially looking forward to LC focusing more directly on the needs
of users. We all know we are in a major time of flux in our profession. It
seems likely that LC will continue to change its some of its policies via
internal processes rather than collaborative ones. I think LC absolutely
has a right to do that. At the same time LC is continuing to distance
itself from PCC.

With LC’s withdrawal from series authority work, PCC needs to find a new
home for series policy-making, documentation, and training.

All this leads me to believe that PCC needs to become more independent of
LC. I suggest that it is time to consider moving PCC away from LC. I do
not think PCC can go it alone. The two organizations that have worked with
PCC the most are OCLC and ALCTS, and I think that PCC should begin
conversations with them about whether either might be a good home for PCC.

Paul J. Weiss
Chair, PCC Standing Committee on Standards
UCSD

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