ALCTS Technical Services Directors of Large Research Libraries Discussion Group (Big Heads)

January 18, 2002, 9:30 a.m. -–12:30 p.m.
Morial Convention Center, Rooms 286-287

Recorded by Judith Hopkins, University at Buffalo

For the text of the Round Robin on issues of concern to these institutions, which was distributed via the Big Heads electronic discussion list in the weeks prior to the New Orleans meeting see


  1. Welcome, Introductions, Announcements  9:30a.m.

  2. OhioLINK switch to basing serials subscription costs on electronic rather than print 9:35 a.m.
    1. Tom Sanville - philosophy behind proposal and vendor/publisher reactions
    2. Carol Diedrichs - proposal from perspective of large research

  3. Budgeting for electronic subscriptions - any new ideas for how to improve the process?
    Harriette Hemmasi, discussion leader, 10:05a.m.

  4. LC Action Plan for Bibliographic Control; 10:20 a.m.
    1. Beacher Wiggins - Library of Congress Plan for Action -implications for large research libraries
    2. Larry Alford - Program for Cooperative Cataloging participation
    3. Karen Calhoun - ALCTS Task Force on the LC Action plan

  5. BREAK (15 minutes)

  6. Copy Cataloging survey; 11:05 a.m.
    1. UC Berkeley experience with CatMe - Lee Leighton
    2. Other techniques to improve productivity
    3. CORE record standard - Why is it accepted for copy operations but not for original cataloging?

  7. Instant access demands and implications for workflow; 11:45 a.m.
    Discussion leader, Katharine Farrell

  8. Recommendations of CRL Task Force on Collections, Judith Nadler; 12:00

  9. CAROL: Collections and Acquisitions Online; 12:15 p.m.
    Bob Nardini - Chair, ALCTS CMDS Quantitative Measures for Collection Committee

  10. Agenda topics for summer; 12:25 p.m.


  1. Welcome, introductions and announcements;(Larry Alford, Chair)

    Introductions. For announcements see Item 11. Miscellaneous.

  2. OhioLINK switch to basing serials subscription costs on electronic rather than print

    Tom Sanville - philosophy behind proposal and vendor/publisher reactions

    Tom Sanville, Director of OhioLINK, described the shift or ‘flip’ in e-journal license pricing that OhioLINK is implementing. In this new structure the electronic is treated as the primary medium with print as the optional medium.

    In most electronic licenses the bulk of the annual expense is for the library's print renewals through the traditional channel of serials agents to publishers, what Sanville called the Print-Plus-Electronic model.  In the Electronic-Plus-Print model the bulk of the library's annual expense is paid to the publisher via OhioLINK with a minor amount going via the serial agent. It is a way of re-arranging the cash flow. A major goal of this re-structuring is to do it in a way that maintains the economic necessities of libraries, serials agents, and publishers. That means that the total net revenue that the publisher receives from the library (via OhioLINK) and from the serial agent must be maintained and the library does not increase the net funds it expends while the serials agent maintains the dollar margin difference between the amount paid to the publisher and the amount received from the library. With the majority of the funds attached to the electronic licence rather than to the print subscriptions adjustments need to be made for the negative impact on the serials agent from the lower revenues on which to receive discounts, charge service fees, etc. Under the Print-Plus model each library has to conduct an annual inventory of print renewals: a laborious, error-prone process. Over time, as print subscriptions disappear, continuing to use them as the primary focus for payment becomes a less and less accurate reflection of reality.

    [For a fuller description of the “flip” in the price structure of electronic and print journals when brought through a consortium-wide license see the article by and the interview with Tom Sanville in The Charleston Advisor.  To obtain them go to   Once you are there, choose Browse Columns by Author looking for Sanville, Tom.  Both article and interview will be listed. – J. Hopkins] 

    Carol Diedrichs - proposal from perspective of large research library

    Carol said that from a collections perspective she likes flip pricing.  It puts the costs where they belong: on the electronic side.   From the technical services perspective, however, flip pricing creates more issues. Starting in spring she is accustomed to pre-pay for subscriptions and she gets a prepayment discount from serials agents for doing so. In the Electronic-Plus model the interest on the prepayment comes from the publisher through OhioLINK. One disadvantage of the Electronic Plus model is that OhioLINK does not provide the electronic invoice that serials agents did. 

    This is first full year of program. What is now needed is to have conversations with serials agents to learn how this change has worked for them: Have they gotten enough income?

    Larry Alford (U. of North Carolina) Does the serial agent get the same discount from a publisher for an electronic version of a title as it does for the print version?  Tom Sanville said there is a compensating factor to ensure that each party doesn’t lose.  Publisher has to provide a larger discount for the electronic version of a title so the serials agent doesn’t lose, e.g., the cost for print was $20,000 and for the electronic version it is $2,000. If the publisher bases its discount on a percentage of price, the serials agent loses.

    Bob Wolven (Columbia) asked about the reaction from publishers.  Tom Sanville said that they had been willing to work with OhioLINK.  He doesn’t know about their future intentions.

    Duane Arenales (NLM) commented that to the extent that publishers still bundle pricing  we will see more and more publishers unbundling.  Tom Sanville said they are trying to make the system indifferent to print vs. electronic subscriptions.  That approach allows those publishers who wish to stop issuing print to do so. 

    Carol Pitts Diedrichs (OSU) said that many of the libraries in Ohio have given up print because OhioLINK provides archival access to the electronic version.

    Rosann Bazirjian (Penn State) asked about the impact of flip pricing on the bibliographic utilities. Carol said she was unaware of any impact on the utilities.

    Cynthia Shelton (UCLA) asked what do you anticipate basing pricing on? Tom Sanville said the past print expenditures is still starting point for negotiations.

    Joyce Ogburn (Washington) said that the University of Washington had flipped prices for Science Direct; that saves them over 8% of sales tax under Washington state law.  They use a serials agent to do so. The serials agent loses its discount as does the library which has to pay a small processing fee but it is worth it. Tom Sanville noted that in Europe electronic versions, but not print versions, are subject to VAT tax. 

    Joyce Ogburn (Washington) noted we all will have to struggle with the question of what to base prices on.

    Tom Sanville pointed out that even if you spend the same amount of money as you did for print subscriptions alone, you get more titles. 

    Larry Alford (UNC): Is it still true that libraries are showing much greater use of titles than they did when they had access only to print?  Tom Sanville said Yes, that the average use of both print and electronic titles has gone up dramatically.

    To a question of whether he had any information about whether publishers are planning to change their pricing models there was no answer. 

    The discussion of flip pricing ended at 10:16 a.m.

  3. Budgeting for electronic subscriptions - any new ideas for how to improve the process?

    Harriette Hemmasi (Indiana University), discussion leader

    Harriette noted that in tracking electronic resources it is difficult knowing what the cost is, let alone knowing what it is based on. The idea of developing a shadow system to track these costs is very labor intensive but they have no choice except to do it.

    Larry Alford (UNC) wondered whether anyone has figured out how to do it cheaply.

    Beth Picknally Camden (UVA) said that some agency at the University of Virginia keeps track.

    Judi Nadler said the University of Chicago is also looking more closely on use statistics on a wide range of materials. There is no model to say what is a good and what is a bad cost per use.

    Larry Alford (UNC) warned that we need to be very cautious on using cost per use; research libraries have to collect materials with low uses.

    Someone said that a high cost per use is no guarantee of research value of material.

    Carol Pitts Diedrichs (OSU) noted that there is an urgency and elevation in urgency factor in dealing with electronic resources.  Publishers need to introduce best practices devices and not to cut off a resource immediately if the contract expires.

    According to Catherine Tierney, Stanford also had subscriptions cease as contracts expired.

    Larry Alford said that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill had provisions for automatic renewal in their contracts.

    Cynthia Shelton and Lee Leighton reported that the University of California is working on collecting data on use of both print and electronic data. Brian Schottlaender is the principal investigator.

  4. LC Action Plan for Bibliographic Control

    Beacher Wiggins - Library of Congress Plan for Action - implications for large research libraries

    Larry Alford - Program for Cooperative Cataloging participation

    Karen Calhoun - ALCTS Task Force on the LC Action plan

    Beacher Wiggins distributed copies of the current version (rev. Dec. 19, 2001) of the LC Action Plan.  It introduced the concept of a principal investigator.  The Cataloging Directorate had gotten some internal funding to carry out some of the work. They had also gotten commitment from several organizations (both within LC such as the Network Standards Office and outside, e.g., ALA divisions such as ALCTS and RUSA) to cooperate with the Cataloging Directorate.

    He would be meeting with potential collaborators later in the conference.  Getting our institutions involved is another way the Big Heads can help.

    Larry Alford (UNC) and Chair of the PCC said that the role of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) is largely collaborative, working with other groups that are taking lead roles, e.g, developing specificationss for aggregated data bases, especially methods of showing additions and deletions.  PCC is also involved in training and continuing education.

    Karen Calhoun (Cornell) talked about the ALCTS Advisory Task Force on the Action Plan (established at the 2001 annual conference in San Francisco) which she chairs. John Byrum of LC is on it as are Judy Mansfield (LC), Carlen Ruschoff (Md.), Priscilla Kaplan (Florida Center for Library Automation), Brian Schottlaender (Univ. of California), Mark Sandler (Univ. of Michigan) and Steve Shadle (Univ. of Washington).

    ALCTS is keenly interested in developing a plan to provide access to selected web resources. Its strategic plan also has a strong commitment to continuing education of catalogers. 

    The Task Force will determine what parts of the action plan it would be suitable for ALCTS TO be involved in, determine what groups in ALCTS should be involved (or which should be set up), etc.

    Numbers 5.1 and 5.3 are action items that LC has asked ALCTS to take the lead on.  Action 5.1 says: 'Address educational needs through improved curricula in library and information science schools and through continuing education for cataloging practitioners by: promoting consensus on determination of "Core Competencies;" devising training in the two areas of "Mind set and values" and "Managing operations;" developing Toolkits; and identifying other mechanisms to meet these needs'; and 5.3 says 'Promote the use and understanding of standards for describing Web resources through education, targeted outreach, etc.' The principal investigator for the Library and information science education (LIS) aspects of 5.1 and 5.3  Ingrid Hsieh-Yee ( Catholic University of America).

    Joyce Ogburn (Washington) asked about the involvement of various ALCTS education committees.  Karen Calhoun said they are all involved.

  5. BREAK

  6. Copy Cataloging survey: Discussion and follow-up

    Arno Kastner and Judi Nadler

    UC Berkeley experience with CatMe - Lee Leighton

    Other techniques to improve productivity

    CORE record standard - Why is it accepted for copy operations but not for original cataloging

    Arno Kastner (NYU) distributed copies of the December 14, 2001 report. The survey was based on the assumption that our libraries do not fully maximize the use of copy cataloging; the results of the survey verified that assumption. There is too much scrutiny of records and too high a staff level is involved. Among the reasons for the involvement of higher levels of staff: historical pattern, workflow issues, and difficulty of changing administrator's point of view.

    Arno noted that about 25% of the libraries are now doing cataloging at the point of receipt. He asked the group: What kind of training did you provide to acquisitions staff? What fields did you determine should be examined?

    Catherine Tierney (Stanford) said that what drives their changes are the economic realities they deal with; it's a trade off between the efficiencies of looking at only a few key fields vs checking everything.

    Judi Nadler (Chicago) said one can bring the quality level of staff up; doesn't think it worse to take a bit longer. At Chicago they did a survey comparing quality of records completed in Acquisitions and Cataloging; it was a wash. They maximized the quality of the work done in Acquisitions and decreased the time it takes to get a book on the shelf.

    Carol Pitts Diedrichs (OSU) said that the people in Acquisitions and Cataloging who work on cataloging are of same level and OSU is careful to keep them that way. They have identified an acceptable level of quality that can result in greater speed of getting material to the shelf. They focus on access points in record review.

    Barbara Henigman said that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign takes the same approach. Less emphasis is placed on type of record (DLC or others).

    Bob Wolven (Columbia) said many institutions use students and they don't get the same level of training as full time staff.

    Joyce Ogburn (Washington) said the factors in assigning staff that they consider are language and subject expertise (they have some original catalogers who are not professionals; they do some copy).

    Cynthia Clark said that at NYPL the Acquisitions staff has traditionally been classified lower than cataloging staff; she has therefore not pushed to transfer work from cataloging. She hopes in the future to reclassify staff and redefine who can do what.

    Sally Sinn (NAL) said she identified 2 themes in the report: (1) at what part of the process is copy cataloging done and by what level of staff; and (2) what is the level of trust in the copy regardless of source? They need to improve the training of catalogers to make them more knowledgable about PCC standards.

    Catherine Tierney (Stanford) commented that numbers are important. Improved access is less measurable.

    Carol Pitts Diedrichs (OSU) noted that the increase in vendor records in the utility databases is a counter balance.

    Lee Leighton said that at Berkeley, more than half of the original catalogers are non-professionals; everyone did everything. Then vendor records hit, without call numbers and many without subject heading. Berkeley had a crash program before Christmas 2001 to deal with the German and Italian current backlogs. Anyone who could classify turned to it; they did about 1,500 records using CatME.

    Duane Arenales (NLM): What can we do collectively to get more usable records from vendors?

    Lee Leighton (Berkeley) said it would be a tremendous burden on vendors to ask them to use AACR2 levels of cataloging and to provide call numbers that would be of no use to many of their customers.

    Judi Nadler (Chicago) said that without paying for it, there is no way to get better records.

    Larry Alford (UNC) said there is general agreement that vendor records are useful for acquisitions purposes.

    Jane Ouderkirk (Harvard) said it would be helpful for workflow to have vendor records coded differently from cataloging records.

    Lee Leighton (Berkeley) said it would be helpful for libraries to upgrade vendor records in the utilities instead of their local systems. When Berkeley upgrades records in their local system, they send them to OCLC and RLIN but the changes Berkeley makes to the records are not reflected in OCLC.

    Harriette Hemmasi (Indiana) said it would be a wonderful entrepreneurial opportunity for someone to upgrade these records.

    Duane Arenales (NAL) suggested pushing description to vendors and having librarians add the value of providing access through call numbers and subject headings.

    Bob Wolven (Columbia) said we would need to determine what we need in description. Columbia isn't too bothered by vendor records; they do save keying of basic information.

    Larry Alford (UNC) re-iterated what Lee Leighton has said earlier: that a major issue is that many libraries are upgrading the records but the upgrades are not getting into the utilities.

    Glenn Patton (OCLC) speaking from the audience reported that one of the things they are trying to deal with is handling upgraded records coming in from local systems. A recent PCC task group had asked them to take mixed batches of records (set holdings only, records upgraded to PCC standards, etc.). They know that a significant percentage of the upgraded records (based on figures from Cornell) are vendor or other foreign MARC records. They have managed to split the files into sheep and goats but they still need to replace member records with upgraded record.

    Karen Smith-Yoshimura (RLG) also speaking from the audience, said that RLG treats all book vendor records as "non-standard". Non-English cataloging records are also treated as lower level cataloging than English-language cataloging. Each record is retained in the RLG Union Catalog; RLG matches records based on the descriptive elements to group records for the same title together. The record representing the "best" cataloging (English-language cataloging following AACR2 rules) is the one you see first. Anyone who adds an English-language cataloging record, even minimal level, will become the first record you see over a book-vendor or non-English cataloging record for the same title.

    Catherine Tierney said that Stanford has noticed an improvement in vendor records recently. They are worth having.

    Judi Nadler (Chicago) commented that the survey shows we all use copy cataloging and we all do some tweaking; however the added value we provide is not shared. She said she was given hope by what Glenn Patton said about batch loading changes at OCLC; it is a question of credits.

    Joyce Ogburn (Washington) commented we should contribute to providing (and training) catalogers to work for the vendors.

    Cynthia Shelton said that UCLA needs to maintain two workflows; they need to touch material once to get them into Acquisitions and then again to update then and get the records into OCLC.

    Bob Wolven reported that Columbia has been trying to fully catalog current Russian monographs; he wondered what effect that effort had had on other libraries. Joan Swanekamp (Yale) and Larry Alford (UNC) agreed that their Slavic backlogs had decreased. [After the meeting Catherine Tierney reported that Stanford had seen an increase in Slavic copy cataloging in the last few months.]

    Lee Leighton (Berkeley) said that cooperative agreements to specialize in certain areas fall apart with changes in cataloging staffing. Duke would applaud anything that would move things along cooperatively.

    Catherine Tierney said that Stanford had changed its model from one of having original catalogers focussing on things that had aged two years to emphasising doing current receipts. They had a crash program to deal with the backlog so they could switch to the new model. You can't allow backlogs to develop because they kill access.

    Jane Ouderkirk said that Harvard budgets an equivalent of a full time cataloger to pay OCLC's Tech Pro whenever a backlog develops in an area. Local catalogers do the material of highest research value; Tech Pro gets the rest.

    Duane Arenales (NLM) said we need to globalize.

    Sally Sinn (NAL) said she agreed with what Bob Wolven said and what Duane Arenales is urging. Big Heads will continue discuss this topic at lunch and probably at next summer's meeting as well.

    Larry Alford (UNC) commented that the Banush report showed we are willing to accept PCC core records but less willing to create them ourselves.

    This discussion ended at 12:08 p.m.

  7. Instant access demands and implications for workflow

    Katharine Farrell

    Because of time constraints this item was not discussed.

  8. Recommendations of CRL Task Force on Collections

    Judith Nadler

    This item was re-numbered Item 9 and placed on the agenda after Mr. Nardini's report on CAROL.

    The CRL Assessment Task Force was created in January 2001 to review the content of the CRL collections and to determine how those collections could be made more visible and accessible to the CRL membership. It was chaired by Ross Atkinson of Cornell.

    Several broad assumptions underlie the recommendations made by the Task Force.

    1. Bibliographic access can range from traditional, full MARC cataloging to less traditional web lists of a collection's holdings;
    2. The way in which an uncataloged collection can be made accessible and useful depends upon the nature of the collection and the use to which it is likely to be put;
    3. Within the the option of traditional cataloging, homogeneity of standards is not a prerequisite;
    4. Subject access is very important to information discovery and should be provided to the degree possible;
    5. Engaging the CRL staff in the assessment and in the recommendations will be a great learning experience and will be vital to its success and implementation.

    At present CRL catalogs most of its journals and newspapers and most of the materials received or produced for the Area Studies Microform Projects. CRL also catalogs its microform sets though most of those sets are not analyzed.

    It is financially unrealistic to assume that the Center's remaining uncataloged collections can be cataloged.

    The Task Force decided that there are two main option for enhancing the visibility and use of the Center's uncataloged collections.

    1. To catalog those collections that represent significant, uncontrolled segments of publications or scholarship and that have the potential for broad use across a range of disciplines. All records should always be loaded in OCLC and RLIN. Future deposits to CRL should include cataloging records whenever possible.

      The collection most in need of cataloging is the international dissertations. CRL currently holds nearly 800,000 of them and cataloging them is estimated to be a four year project.

      Larry Alford (UNC) asked why the Big Heads couldn't each take a share of those disserations and catalog them.

      Jane Ouderkirk (Harvard) said she would prefer to contribute some money to have it done.

    2. To create clear and well-constructed Web-based lists of the remaining uncataloged collections that warrant such effort. Such lists should be accurate, detailed and keyword rich so that they can be easily accessed by standard search engines. The lists should be created in such a way as to make them key candidates for linking from members' Web pages and other related bibliographic databases. These lists should be maintained and enhanced on an ongoing basis.

      Candidates for such lists include:

      1. U.S. College Catalogs
      2. International Bank Reports
      3. Textbooks
      4. Microform sets

    Judi asked this group to express support for the great value of these collections.

    [The CRL Task Force report can be found in the CRL Newsletter, Volume XXI, Number 2, December '01/January '02:]

  9. CAROL: Collections and Acquisitions Research Online
    Bob Nardini - Chair, ALCTS CMDS Quantitative Measures for Collection Development Committee

    Bob Nardini spoke on CAROL, an information clearinghouse for library research. It is a web-based database where researchers in any area of library collections or acquisitions can log a description of their research and locate other researchers active in areas of interest to them. The purpose of CAROL is to encourage research by providing a central source of information about ongoing work. Programming for it was done by Christian Boissonas and his daughter. Mr. Nardini urged the Big Heads to encourage their colleagues to enter their projects on CAROL. Its scope covers all systematic, planned research, whether intended for publication or in-house use.

    Joyce Ogburn (Washington) said she had been thinking of setting up a repository of in-house studies; this might serve that purpose.

  10. Agenda topics for summer 2002.

    This was not discussed.

  11. Miscellaneous

    Beacher Wiggins spoke briefly on LC's effort to upgrade its Endeavor system. As of February 16, 2002, they will bring up a new version of Voyager. For 1-2 weeks, while they do so, the LC catalog will be unavailable for input/update. The Web OPAC will be accessible, current through February 15. There will be only limited distribution of cataloging records by CDS (Cataloging Distribution Service): all distribution will cease during the implementation period, except for CONSER and JACKPHY records. LC will use an interim database to process CIP publications. The CIP records will not be loaded into the upgraded LC database and distributed until after the upgrade implementation is complete. LC may offer access to MARC formatted authorities in mid-spring, as a separate upgrade. The delay with the authorities implementation stems from Voyager's still not being fully able to deal with MARC21 diacritics. LC will keep users updated through various LC web pages.

    LC has not received mail since Oct. 17, 2001; there is a backlog of some 3,500,000 items. The only mail they can currently accept is that coming via courier or FedEx and UPS.