Three members of the Five Colleges of Ohio Government Documents Group (Barbara Bell, Jennifer McMullen, and Mary Webb Prophet) attended the Federal Depository Conference and Depository Library Council Meeting in Arlington, VA, April 20-23, 1998. During this conference (on Wednesday, April 22), a luncheon meeting was organized to allow other people interested in the issues of retrospective cataloging of historical government publications to meet, discuss the issues, and raise questions. Over 20 people were present and divided into three discussion groups, and the summaries from those discussion groups appear below.
Summary of Conversation at Barbara Bell's Table
We shared what each of us is doing and want to do with our historical documents.
Occidental: They have cataloged their U.S. Census holdings but they are not on-line yet. Older pre-1900 documents are not cataloged. The documents that have been cataloged have been done through OCLC (not Tech Pro).
University of Calif., Irvine: Their library policy is that when a document is checked out, it is cataloged when it is returned.
University of Calif., Santa Barbara: They estimate that they have 200,000 pre-1976 documents. They need to be assigned Su-Docs numbers as well.
Texas A & M: Depository since 1903, and currently select 85%. From 1976-1990, and current cataloging is accomplished by the Marcive tape load. Pre-1976 needs to be done.
Newark Public Library: Depository since 1906; now serving as a regional library. A large part of their collection dates from 1850-1976; right now they are working through an inventory of this part of their collection.
University of New Hampshire: They have done the Marcive tape load from 1976-present. They also have purchased ERIC with EBSCO as host. People use ERIC rather than the catalog to find education materials.
Bowdoin College: They have been a depository since 1880; currently they select 33%. In particular they are interested in 1976 and back. Their 19th Century material is a large part of their collection. The cataloging of documents needs to be a higher priority at their college.
Cincinnati Public Library: They have been a depository since 1884, and currently are selecting 35%. There is on-line access to documents which is an "in-house" system which needs to be redone. This out-dated system gives some access to documents from 1900-1950.
St. Louis University Law Library: They have been a depository since 1967. Documents are cataloged by L.C. They have asked OCLC to add the SuDocs numbers on their records. A main emphasis brought up is the importance of the Name Authority files on this type of project. They want good cataloging. Everyone agreed.
The College of Wooster Libraries: They became a depository in 1966, and select 31%. The eight-year cataloging project was described where copy cataloging was done. What is left in the collection are the original titles which we hope to complete with the Mellon CONSORT funds. These cover a range of years, not all before 1976.
One question raised by the group was if CONSORT records (as upgraded) were available for a tape load onto OCLC. The work that has been done to enhance the records does not show up on OCLC.
Again the quality of records was mentioned. We want good records with proper name authority work and full information.
Enthusiasm for "beginning" to document this important period of information was expressed. If there is a way we can coordinate with GODORT's project, that would be good. People are ready to go!
Summary of Conversation at Jennifer McMullen's Table
Present at the table: Tim Byrne, Sandra de Conturbia, Kathryn Isaacs, Aimee Quinn, Jean Sears, Mary Jane Walsh, and Jennifer McMullen
NOTE: It was suggested that these summaries also be sent to Arlene Weible, ALA GODORT Cataloging Committee.
Aimee Quinn noted that she has been asked by her director to complete a retrospective cataloging project for her entire documents collection before the opening of their new library in the fall of 1999. She indicated that the collection has approximately 971,000 pieces with over 500,000 microfiche. UNLV became a depository in 1958, but they have a Congressional collection that reaches back to 1789, and they also have strong collections from the War Department and the USGS. Aimee expects that she will end up doing what original cataloging is left over after all other records are found, so she is particularly interested in our project.
Tim Byrne pointed out that the Colorado group has done a fair bit of cataloging from the War Department, and he indicated that they had found approximately 60% of the records with copy cataloging.
Aimee made the suggestion that for retrocon, a good approach might be to take the 1909 Checklist, go through page by page, and divide up cataloging responsibilities that way. (This approach might be useful for our consortium or for a national effort, if that gets underway.)
Tim stated that OCLC would prefer that we documents catalogers do everything through them so that they (OCLC) can then market the records to others. He also pointed out that CIS is creating some cataloging records, but these records are not as detailed. Aimee added that one of the biggest problems for pre-1976 materials is finding records for Serial Set documents (analytics).
Mary Jane Walsh noted that she comes from a 47% depository and wondered what role there might be for smaller schools/collections with few older documents in helping a retrospective cataloging project move ahead. Time pointed out that the GODORT Cataloging Committee survey (soon to be sent out) will help us identify what collection areas are stronger in various libraries and then possibly help up divide up the responsibilities for cataloging those collections. He indicated that smaller libraries might be able to take on one section of the classification system.
Many questions were raised concerning the completeness of OCLC records for documents. Tim noted that statistics have been collected on the number of docs records on OCLC based on a particular fixed field code, but added that many more records (up to 500,000?) did not have this code. He also added that only about 10% of these records have SuDocs numbers. He said that some libraries may add the SuDocs numbers to the records for their own use but are not authorized to make the official enhancements to the records. Aimee wondered how many of these records are duplicates. The point was also made that many of the documents records in OCLC were not created by depositories.
Mary Jane brought up the question of Serial Set analytics and indicated that she had thought some library in California (Cal State Fullerton?) was working on this. Aimee added that she had just written an article about this very issue, saying that it shouldn't be done, and noted that now her work has been negated!
Tim talked about a similar retrospective cataloging project in Colorado, a joint effort between Denver Public Library, Colorado State University, and the University of Colorado. They have planned for 1 cataloger (for original cataloging) and 3 technicians for each library. The project span has been set at 3 years with an estimated cost of $750,000. Using the Checklist of US Government Publications, they determined that they would be working with over a million titles. Tim pointed out that the more realistic view of the project, given one cataloger and two technicians at each library, would be closer to 30 years to complete the project.
Aimee mused that OCLC could make a tidy profit by redoing their original search for older documents records, then putting them on tapes and offering them for retrocon projects. Mary Jane wondered if CIC had been working on something similar to this with OCLC and indicated that for smaller collections, including that at Colgate, would probably be very interested in this sort of project. Aimee then asked how many depositories can't do a complete cataloging project but would be interested in joining with other libraries in a national project.
Jennifer wondered how many depositories have their cataloging done in technical services as opposed to documents and whether this would make a significant difference in the level of interest in a national retrospective cataloging project. The general consensus was that TS departments might hesitate at taking on documents (perceived as difficult) and would also want to look closely at each record. (Seems like this would drag any project out!)
Aimee asked if any of the Ohio5 libraries were able to enhance OCLC records and indicated that it would be very nice if any information (such as SuDocs or item numbers) that we added to records would show up on OCLC for the benefit of other libraries. Mary Jane seconded this. Tim indicated that anything the Colorado schools do to enhance records goes into the shared database so that others can benefit from the work. He said that they might see about a deal with Marcive or Autographics to share the information.
Kathryn noted that prior to working at the Library of Virginia, she worked at TechPro, and she added that she rarely handled the actual materials being cataloged, dealing instead with disks or work forms. Aimee indicated that were she to send off her collection for cataloging by an outside source, the cost would be exorbitant.
Mary Jane rounded up the discussion by asking if the Ohio5 Documents group would keep people posted about the progress of their retrospective cataloging project and share the summaries from this lunch meeting. Jennifer said that she would see about posting this information to the Ohio5 Docs web site. Aimee added that it should be posted to GovDoc-L as well and that the information should be sent directly to her for immediate posting.
Summary of Conversation at Mary Webb Prophet's Table
Many of the points brought up in the discussions at other tables were also discussed at this table. As this summary is the last I will only include points not covered above.
University of Iowa is working on the Department of Agriculture. They are working with the CIC.
There are good records in OCLC for most series from the Department of Interior and from the Smithsonian Institution.
Need to start with the earliest materials and work forward. The earlier materials need more expert study of the records and may need more careful searching. Some older records have records with strange entries, e.g. the agency name may appear above the title.
General Publications don't seem to be quite as well covered in existing cataloging as documents in identifiable series.
Terrance Schults is putting together a web site of retrospective paper indexes. He is using the questions in the self-study to do this.
Several series that have existing cataloging records on OCLC can have improved access with the addition of keywords to the 505 fields. These series include Bureau of American Ethnology Annual reports and the River basin Surides.
List of Discussion Attendees