Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Webcast - "It's All About Access: Defining MARC / AACR Access Level Records"

This webcast was interesting, from a cataloger's standpoint. It was all about improving cataloger efficiency while still retaining good access (good access as defined by catalogers and reference librarians - I wonder what library users would think?). The first half of the presentation was about cataloging non-serial electronic resources. The Library of Congress (and, if I remember correctly, a few other libraries) participated in an experiment where some resources were cataloged according to current rules, while Access-level records were created for other resources. They measured cataloger efficiency when creating the two kinds of records - Access-level records (which, for electronic resources, they decided should have fewer descriptive elements, rather than fewer subject headings - usually it's subject headings that are cut when catalogers try to save time and money) saved catalogers, on average, an hour's worth of time per record.

The second half of the presentation was about serials - not just electronic serials, but all serials. If you have any experience at all with serials cataloging, you know how complicated it is to do it correctly. Well, with this part of the experiment, they tried to figure out how they could streamline serials cataloging - which record elements are really necessary and which can be discarded? I admit, as someone who is far more comfortable cataloging monographs than serials, that the idea of more streamlined serials cataloging guidelines seems appealing.

This presentation happened two years ago - I know that the serials cataloging I learned in my Advanced Cataloging class wasn't what was talked about in this presentation, and I don't remember any mention of Access-level records for electronic resources, so I'm guessing that these changes are still being analyzed, tested, and thought over (unless they've been abandoned completely? - I should look into this some more).

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