Vendor Interview -- Serials Solutions

Our final vendor interview is with Serials Solutions, a provider of discovery and e-resource management solutions. Susan Presley, Manager of Metadata and Bibliographic Control for Serials Solutions, answered our questions.

Question 1: Is your cataloging system current with MARC 21 updates 9, 10, and 11, which made changes to MARC to accommodate RDA? If not, do you plan to update, and do you have a timeline for updating? Have you made the changes for both bibliographic and authority records?

SP: We provide a range of value-added services, not cataloging systems, so this question as worded does not apply.
However, Serials Solutions does provide a MARC update service that provides library-specific customizations of records for electronic resources to libraries. We rely on authoritative third party sources, including the Library of Congress, for a significant number of our records. It is our understanding that RDA will not be retroactively applied to records at the Library of Congress or any other source we are aware of at this time.

Moving forward, we will follow best practices for integrating the multiple record formats and our original cataloged records will meet the new recommended standards.

Question 2: Are your system's displays (public facing and admin) capable of displaying the new RDA fields added to MARC? Are any future changes planned? If so, can you share a timeline?

SP: At this time, the new RDA fields have no impact on the displays for any of our services. We will continue to review the final recommendations to determine if any modifications are necessary in order to best support both our library customers and their users.

Question 3: Please describe your system's search interface (including its indexing, filtering, and faceting functions), and how it handles the new RDA fields. Are any future changes planned? If so, can you share a timeline?

SP: We are considering employing new RDA data in the filtering and faceting features of our Summon™ web-scale discovery service as well as in our resource management services. However, since not all records will have this information immediately we will want to carefully consider how to implement in order to take advantage of the information when available, without negatively impacting results of non-RDA records.

Question 4: Libraries are likely to be in a mixed records environment for some time. Do you have any plans to discontinue support to AACR2 records in the foreseeable future?

SP: We still encounter original AACR records; as a result, we have no plans to discontinue support for either AACR or AACR2 records. Based on our experience, as changes made to cataloging standards tend to be exclusively “going forward” and older records are accepted on an “as is” basis, we expect to continue to support AACR/2 indefinitely. Our goal is to be inclusive in our support of high-quality records. Fortunately, current technologies can support this level of flexibility.

Question 5: Do you have any display, search, or other concerns about using your system in a mixed record environment where AACR2 and RDA records are co-mingled in the catalog?

SP: As noted, we already operate in a “mixed record” environment. The prospect of co-mingled ACCR2 and RDA records does not raise any concerns. We will be able to offer appropriate customizations to records based on record type.

Question 6: RDA has an increased focus on record-to-record relationships based on FRBR and adopted the Work-Expression-Manifestation-Item structure. Does your system currently take advantage of this new data and structure to improve the user experience in any way? Are any future user experience improvements based on this data planned? If so, can you share a timeline?

SP: Although our current system does not explicitly support the display of FRBR relationships, we are investigating the opportunities these recommendations present to improve the user experience.

Question 7: Some have said that the benefits of RDA cannot be fully realized while MARC remains the dominant encoding standard. If RDA is adopted, how viable do you think MARC will be going forward? What sort of issues would a move away from MARC raise for your product(s)?

SP: Over the course of many years, the cataloging community has left us a legacy of high quality, authoritative information formatted in MARC. Our goal is to use the highest quality available authoritative data to help end-users disambiguate one resource from another. As a result, our systems will continue to support the ability to leverage the data available from MARC records for the foreseeable future. As other high quality authoritative data sources become available, we will be modifying our systems to allow integration of those sources in addition to MARC to take full advantage of new and improved standards.