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I am a regular attendee of the NASIG (North American Serials Interest Group) Conference, but this year’s experience was quite different because I was on the Conference Planning Committee. The conference (including pre-conferences) was held from May 30 through June 3 in Louisville, Kentucky, and I was the Chair of the AV Committee, which meant I was kept very busy throughout the whole conference. I had to make sure that each meeting room was set up correctly for each session, had to field numerous questions regarding AV, and also worked the Registration desk. Although I only managed to attend one full session, it was still a rewarding experience, and I think the conference went well. If anybody else is interested in doing conference planning work for a future conference, I would recommend you try it, but would suggest that you keep your sense of humor and, no matter how much you plan, be prepared to make any number of last minute changes.
The one full session I attended was a presentation by Katherine Adams and Britta Santamauro of Yale University, called “Successive Entry, Latest Entry, or None of the Above? How the MARC21 Format, the Concept of a Work and FRBR Revitalize Serials Management.” In this session, Adams and Santamauro presented their vision of an ideal “best of all possible worlds” catalog system. In this vision, they assumed that technical innovations would make this possible, that rule creating and managing agencies would adopt new standards, and that legacy data and systems would take care of themselves. Basically, it was more of a thought experiment and a dream, rather than a real, practical solution. That’s not to put it down, I actually think that more of this kind of thinking is needed from catalogers to try to prod system developers to create the sort of systems that can do what librarians want them to do, not just take the systems sold to us. In Adams and Santamauro’s ideal catalog, FRBR concepts would fully be integrated into both cataloging rules and cataloging systems. Accordingly, serials would be cataloged using three basic records: a superworkspression record, a manifestation record, and an item/holdings record. The superworkspression record would be a FRBR-style expression record, that would incorporate all title changes and variations throughout the history of a serial into one record. The manifestation record would have data for a particular title and its particular format. And the item/holdings record would be virtually the same as current item records. It was an interesting model, but one that is a bit hard to describe in a blog entry without diagrams and stuff. Nevertheless, the takeaway idea that librarians should speak up about what they want their catalog systems to do is a good one.