SAC: ALA Annual Report 2020

Vocabularies Subcommittee Report: ALA Summer 2020 Virtual Business Meetings

Reported by Rebecca Belford (Oberlin College & Conservatory), Chair, MLA CMC Vocabularies Subcommittee

CaMMS Subject Analysis Committee (SAC)

SAC met virtually on June 19, 2020, with Brian Stearns chairing. Unlike the traditional ALA meetings, there was no presentation, only a business meeting. Topics included:


Best Practices for Recording Faceted Chronological Data in Bibliographic Records

This document was created by a task group, led by Casey Mullin, within the SAC Subcommittee on Faceted Vocabularies (SSFV); see SSFV summary for additional details. The document will be iterative, and an ongoing tool. SAC discussed where to house the document in addition to the ALA Institutional Repository (SAC or SSFV sites), and how to maintain and communicate version control–perhaps numbered versions with have a stable URL to the most recent, similar to MLA’s Best Practices documents. SAC also discussed the process for gathering feedback, including identification of specific groups (including MLA) from which to solicit responses. It was agreed that feedback is important but so is ensuring the document doesn’t languish in draft status. The document was approved with minor edits (notably, diacritics will be fixed) and will be distributed as “version 0.9 pending community feedback”


Discussion about content: 1) What is the document’s relationship to authority records? That would require PCC action. It might be repurposed for DCMZ1, or there could be a link from Z1 out to a later version of the document that is no longer limited to bibliographic records. 2) Approved Expression dates, do not use separate 046 subfield as recommended in MARC DP is implemented.


Cataloging Code of Ethics

At Midwinter, SAC agreed to provide official comments on the draft Code of Cataloguing Ethics document. Violet Fox, Rosemary Groenwald, and Iman Dagher will draft a response by July 20 that will be forwarded to SAC and then submitted to the Code of Cataloguing Ethics Steering Committee.


SAC in relationship to Core

Confirmed SAC will continue under Core, as will CC:DA (Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access). ALCTS will be officially dissolved June 28, 2020. (Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures, is a new ALA section created in part by the merger of ALCTS, LITA, and LLAMA.)


Old business

There was a question whether there was further information on item on the “Future of SAC” list of potential activities from Midwinter addressing how SAC might work more collaboratively with PTCP (Policy, Training, and Cooperative Programs Division) at LC. Janis Young thanked SAC for the offer and noted that many things have been suspended since LC transitioned to remote work; a response is forthcoming.


Committee transitions

Rosemary Groenwald, Daniel Joudry, Chris Long, Jean Piascik, and Caitlin Rozich, are rotating off; Rosemary Groenwald will be re-joining as the first liaison from OLAC; Brian Stearns will continue to chair.


The next meeting will be virtual, timed around the Midwinter Event.


CaMMS Subject Analysis Committee, Subcommittee on Faceted Vocabularies (SSFV)


SSFV met virtually on July 9, 2020.


Committee transitions

Rotating off: Rebecca Belford, Charlene Chou, Lia Contursi, Jane Greenberg, Rosemary Groenwald, and George Prager are rotating off; Sai Deng, Sarah Hovde, Jennifer Olson, Lori Robare, and Rachel Turner are incoming. Casey Mullin will continue to chair.


Brief updates from related communities and organizations

PTCP (Netanel Ganin): multiple subdivision project continues; religious aspects project finished. ALRIS/NA (Sherman Clarke): discussing harmonization between AAT and LCSH. PCC FAST training group (Candy Riley): first meeting held July 2020; working on assumption that those looking for training are already interesting in adopting usage. Early project is the creation of an annotated bibliography; anyone with information on past FAST presentations please send to Candy. FYI: FAST is revising chronological facet terms to increase usability.


Task group reports and discussion

Chronological group (Casey Mullin)

“Best Practices for Recording Faceted Chronological Data in Bibliographic Records,” version 0.9, approved by SAC, was published on the ALA IR (, and shared widely. SSFV will reach out to request formal feedback from other policy-making bodies including PCC PoCo, PCC SCS and SCA, OCLC Metadata Quality, MLA CMC, OLAC CAPC, CC:DA, CC:AAM, and the Cataloging of Children’s Materials Committee.


The group submitted a discussion paper to MARC Advisory Group (MAC), 2020-DP13, “Defining New Subfields in Bibliographic and Authority Field 046 for Expression Dates and Related Elements.” The paper will come back as a proposal. Adam Schiff reported: “For the bibliographic format, the indicator value option was slightly preferred over a new subfield to hold a term or code for the type of entity represented by the field. For the authority format, the 075 field can identify the type of entity represented by the record. Subfields $k/$l and $o/$p will be used both for work and expression dates rather than the creation of new subfields for expression dates. In the bibliographic format, the indicator value or entity subfield in the bibliographic format combined with dates in $k/$l and/or $o/$p will make the meaning of the dates clear. In the authority format, the 075 combined with dates in 046 will also make the meaning of the dates clear. The meeting also supported adding subfields $3, $x, and $z to both formats, but the addition of subfields $u and $v to the bibliographic format was set aside for now.”


Next steps for the Chronological group are to solicit formal responses from other policy-making bodies and collect informal feedback on the new BP document, begin to work on Version 1.0 of the BPs (release date TBD), and adapt DP-13 into a MARC proposal. Future plans include crafting version 1.0 and adapting it for use in authority records. There was discussion about MARC field 388 and use of text strings, possible collaboration FAST team, and use of appropriately coded FAST terms. Adam Schiff reported use of the document in an upcoming training at the University of Washington in August 2020.


Genre/Form Group (Casey Mullin)

Since Midwinter, the group continued to polish two mapping spreadsheets, which can be used in machine-assisted retrospective applications: 1) LCSH form subdivisions (and select topical subdivisions) to LCGFT equivalents as well as demographic term equivalents as applicable, and 2) MARC fixed field codes to LCGFT equivalents. Future plans are to complete the spreadsheets and create an accompanying white paper describing considerations around large-scale retrospective implementation efforts.


Geographic Group (Lisa Cavalear)

So far, the group has a draft document on generating simple 370 fields based on 6XX subject headings or $z country subfield showing a country, by way of a macro, or simple program, something to deliver and share publicly. This has raised more questions than answers and suggests need for collaboration with other task groups, as there is overlap, particularly with MARC fields 370 and 386 fields. Discussion/Q&A (mostly Q):  Will the geographic group have a similar discussion to the chronological group’s about creation vs. topical? Should topical place be recorded in MARC 651 rather than 370 (parallel to 648 and 388 for time periods)? Does topical belong in 3xx at all? The hardest cases to determine topicality are pales 650$z and which subfield would go in field 370. Literature and music are relatively clear, because $z is not used for topical headings. A note on an additional mapping challenge: place can be integrated into $a (e.g., Paintings, French). Should countries always map to 370$c even if a specific place can also be mapped to $f/$g? What about place of event–is 033 and 518 sufficient? What about places inherent to certain genres/styles?


Demographic Group (Netanel Ganin)

Since midwinter, completed the mapping of LCDGT terms to equivalent LCSH headings. Currently mapping LCSH terms which inherently include demographic information—either audience or creator/contributor—to LCDGT and LCSH terms for 385/386 fields; these mappings can be used in machine-assisted retrospective applications. Next steps include completing the LCSH to audience/creator terms. Detailed work: 1) Look at qualifiers to identify what reflects language, what indicates nationality, what stays ambiguous, and what gets misapplied in the wild. 2) Audience terms are difficult to interpret from “for xxx” headings. Is there really an intended audience, and is that always/unambiguously the intended audience? Is it okay to map only one possible intended audience? Intended audience does not necessarily equate to usage; what about a label for discovery systems that says ‘suggested audience’? Audience can evolve and change over time.


Later projects may include creating a discussion paper on ethical issues of demographic metadata and reading the Cataloging Ethics group’s paper and the working documents of its authority work subgroup.