|The Alphabet Soup of Cooperative Cataloging: Leading Through Participation in NACO, SACO, BIBCO and CONSER||
This session was designed to soothe the nerves of the acronymically-challenged, by explaining the meaning and history of the various terms and programs attached to LC’s Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC). The lessons were that cooperative cataloging is easy and fun, that the eligibility requirements, training, and paperwork are not burdensome (though perhaps they used to be), and that LC wants you to help … yes, you. Even small libraries not expecting to contribute many records are welcome to take part in this effort that benefits the entire cataloging community. It also enables individual catalogers to improve their skills and interact with their peers at LC and other institutions.
Thompson Yee of LC’s Cataloging Policy and Support Office began by briskly outlining the programs. Details on all of them are available at PCC’s Web site (lcweb.loc.gov/catdir/pcc/). Two of the four programs are for cataloging records: CONSER members create high-quality serials records, and BIBCO members contribute full core bibliographic records, including authorities, subject headings, and classification numbers (LC or Dewey). The other two programs are for authority records: NACO members create records for names, uniform titles, and serials, and SACO members propose new subject headings and LC classification numbers.
Mr. Yee desired to promote SACO in particular. It is less formal than the other programs: training is optional, as is formal institutional membership. Twenty percent of new LCSH entries now come through SACO, so now you know why the red books have been multiplying lately. Sometimes it is easier to propose a new subject heading than to fuss around finding existing headings to fit the work in hand. A proposal may be as simple as establishing "Law and legislation" under an existing topical heading. SACO is informal because all proposals are funneled through a thorough review process by LC. Funnel coordinators for NACO also exist - one each for OCLC and RLIN - so low-volume contributors may learn by doing without having to meet the high productivity standards required to pass fully out of review status.
Two NACO participants testified to their experience in this program. Richard Amelung of St. Louis University, describing himself as a "battle-scarred old codger," began creating NACO headings in 1985 for a major microform set of 19th-century legal treatises. At that time the hurdles for participants were great: institutions had to specify their areas of expertise in their applications, undertake to contribute at least 600 records per year, and foot the bill for sending their catalogers to LC for two-week training sessions. Then there was all the paperwork: not only did you have to create the headings, you had to learn how to type the forms. Review lasted four to six months and covered all types of headings, after which the institution was certified as fully competent in all of them.
Now, under what Richard dubbed NRN - the New Relaxed NACO - the review period has been shortened, the heading types have been uncoupled so that participants can be certified in what they do most while remaining under review in other areas, and the emphasis is more on the work itself than on the stressful process. The work is fully computerized: no more typing up forms. Cataloging can be a lonely job, but NACO offers training, confidence, and a network of contacts through fellow institutions and through LC liaisons even after training is finished. Administrators may fear that NACO work crimps productivity, but being well-trained makes one better able to deal with problems that would come up anyway, so it saves work to do them right the first time. NACO ensures smooth record integration, and by cutting the number of split files improves the search hit rate for catalog users.
Christina Tarr of Boalt Hall is a new NACO participant who demonstrated the practical side of her work. She underwent a week of training at LC, and is the sole NACO contributor at her library. She creates 20 to 25 authority records per month, most of them authors of German doctoral theses. This is about one record for every four items she catalogs. She is only independent on personal names, remaining under review for the rare corporate names she creates. Another great thing about NACO is that you aren’t required to establish every name on your bib records: anything too tough to deal with may be skipped. But most of her doctoral authors have never published anything before, and the process is so simple she uses a macro that takes information from the bib record and fills out the 040, 100, and 670 (source data) fields of the NACO online form automatically, with very little tweaking necessary. Her handout said "If I can do this, anyone can," and "It’s quite easy, really."
Ellen McGrath of SUNY-Buffalo chaired the session and closed with a suggestion that a one-day SACO training session be attached to a future AALL annual meeting. Anyone interested in such a session is welcome to write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.