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TSDS Meeting
SAA Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh
Wednesday, 25 August 1999, 9 AM-Noon

TSDS Process Discussion

After a fairly active first year of existence, the SAA Annual Meeting seems like an opportune time for TSDS members and other SAA members concerned with issues related to descriptive standards to discuss the following issues. This is not by any means a closed list, so interested participants should feel free to add to the list!

  1. General
    1. What sorts of standards and standards-related proposals and requests should TSDS be considering?
    2. In the rapidly changing world of networked information systems, how broadly or narrowly should we construe the term "descriptive standards"?
    3. Are the kinds of things we reviewed this year (see TSDS 1998-1999 Calendar) the kinds of activities this subcommittee should be engaged in? Are there things missing or things that shouldn't be there?
    4. Given the duties and responsibilities outlined in Section IV of our charge, how proactive should we be about seeking out standards and standards-related initiatives to review and comment on?
    5. In the past, MARC expertise has been an important skill set for CAIE members. While still acknowledging the continuing importance of having MARC strength represented on TSDS, what other areas of familiarity should be represented on the subcommittee?
    6. Process
      1. Do we really have to be experts to review and comment on many of the things we're asked to consider; or is it okay to provide comments from an archival perspective on only those parts or elements of a particular project or initiative that we feel are relevant to the archival community? Can we develop differing expectations for what we would do in terms of a review and comments based on the categories in the matrix contained in the next item?
      2. Rob Spindler, in a comment to the members of the EAD Working Group in April, took a stab at a matrix for the kinds of standards that TSDS gets asked to do. Would this be a useful starting point for a discussion of how we might handle some reviews/comments differently depending on where they fall within this matrix? Rob's matrix is as follows (tweaked just a bit):
        1. SAA created/owned standards
        2. SAA adopted standard (officially adopted by Council)
        3. Externally developed standard nominated for SAA adoption
        4. Externally developed standard or initiative sent to SAA for official comments (usually a formal draft)
        5. Internal (to SAA) standard or initiative sent to TSDS for unofficial comment (often an early draft)
        6. Externally developed standard or initiative either sent to TSDS or sniffed out by TSDS members or other interested persons (e.g., from postings to the listserv) for unofficial comment (often an early draft)
        Would it be useful to develop and document a clear path for how these various categories get handled? Are there categories above that don't need to be there? Or ones that are missing? It seems like some of the ones earlier on the list would only come to TSDS at the request of the Standards Committee? This is one area where coordination with the Standards Committee seems critical. When a request to review/comment comes from the Standards Committee, TSDS would give its review/comment for the SC to do with as it pleases. When TSDS provides an unofficial review/comment to either an internal or an external group, should we have a standard bit of text that starts things off with the disclaimer that we are not speaking "officially" for SAA? To my knowledge, this doesn't currently exist, but it seems pretty important as TSDS and the Standards Committee answer an increasing number of requests to provide unofficial feedback on drafts of standards and standards-related proposals.
      3. Can we develop a process for conducting reviews and providing comments for things that TSDS decides to tackle that will do the following?:
        1. Involve the subcommittee as a whole in deciding those reviews to tackle and those to pass on when a choice needs to be made (buy in from a majority of the subcommittee)
        2. Create a streamlined review/comment process that allows for the fairly rapid turnaround time that many requests to review and comment seem to expect
        3. Distribute the burden of coordinating reviews/comments evenly among subcommittee members
        4. Actively involve all subcommittee members throughout the year in carrying out TSDS's responsibilities without overly burdening individual subcommittee members
        5. Ensure that at least 2 subcommittee members are involved in each review so that the comments reflect more than 1 individual's perspective
        6. Ensure that TSDS efforts do not unconsciously duplicate or overlap with what the Standards Committee is doing
        7. Provide clear guidelines for which reviews/comments, if any, require a TSDS vote in order to leave the subcommittee and which do not
    7. Communication
      1. What is the best way for TSDS to transact its discussions so as to involve the largest number of interested SAA members as possible?
      2. How important is it that the Standards Committee and its subcommittees and working groups (the infrastructure set up in response to TFOE) use the same communications vehicle to transact their discussions?
      3. Does sharing the text of the final comments for each review (e-mail, or perhaps posting on the web) make it easier for those who end up coordinating reviews and writing comments?

    If anyone, TSDS members or other interested people, have any thoughts on any of the above that you want to hang out there for comment and consideration prior to the TSDS meeting at SAA in Pittsburgh on August 25th, feel free to e-mail them to me and I'll post below.

    It would be especially great to hear from CAIE listserv members (former CAIEers and others who have the battle scars to document their participation in the MARC wars of the past ;-) who may not be able to attend our meeting but may have some perspective on questions regarding how TSDS should organize itself and address its responsibilities in the future!

    1999-08-16 Cross | 1999-07-15 Landis (II.C.1-7)

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