Brown University

Type of Library: Academic

Project Coordinator: Samuel Mizer, Co-Leader, Technical Services Dept.

Address: 10 Prospect Street, Box A, Providence, RI  02912

Telephone: 401-863-3640

E-Mail: [email protected]

Problem(s) To Be Solved:

  1. Enhance access to online federal information
  2. Close documents card catalog
  3. Streamline documents workflow

MARCIVE Solution:

Documents Without Shelves (DWS)

The Story:

Brown University is made up of three schools.  Approximately 5,900 students are enrolled in the Undergraduate College, 1,500 in the Graduate School, and 340 in the Medical School.  The University offers nearly 100 programs of study and adheres to a collaborative university-college model in which Brown’s faculty of 628 are as committed to teaching as they are to research, embracing a curriculum that requires students to be architects of their education.

The Brown University library system contains more than 6.8 million items, including bound volumes, periodicals, maps, sheet music, and manuscripts. The number of items grows by more than 70,000 each year.  In addition, the library subscribes to hundreds of online databases and tens of thousands of e-journals, online newspapers, and e-books.  The library’s Center for Digital Scholarship conducts a systematic program to digitize the library’s renowned signature collections.

Brown is one of the nation’s oldest federal depository libraries (designated in 1861) and currently receives roughly 60% of the item selections available from the Government Printing Office.

Brown University Library faced several challenges.  The unit responsible for processing depository shipments had been eliminated during reorganization.  Processing responsibility shifted to the Technical Services Department which itself had downsized.  We needed a very streamlined process to absorb the extra work.  At the same time, the Library wanted to close its government documents card catalog and represent all depository receipts in its OPAC.  Finally, and most importantly, we wanted to meet user expectations that a rapidly growing body of federal online publications would be easily discoverable and accessible.

We felt the MARCIVE Documents Without Shelves service was a very cost-effective means of providing access to federal online information via the library catalog.  Before purchasing, we analyzed our tangible depository receipts to evaluate their overlap with Documents Without Shelves.  Our sampling revealed that roughly 90% of our depository receipts were also available online and were represented in the DWS record set.  Based on this finding, we decided to explore a workflow that would, first, load DWS records and, second, search depository receipts in our own catalog after a delay of several weeks.

Brown loaded the DWS retrospective file (at the time, about 55,000 records) and then opted for both monthly new bibs and monthly updates (which overlay and keep our URLs up to date).  Designing load profiles for the MARCIVE records was not difficult.  Brown currently uses an Innovative Interfaces ILS.

Immediately, we had near comprehensive access to online federal information.  The process of treating the vast majority of our depository receipts as “added copies” to records already in our catalog worked very well, saving many hours of processing time while allowing us to close the documents card catalog.  Records for items not represented in DWS are downloaded from OCLC.

Reaction from staff who work directly with our users has been favorable.  In particular, there is appreciation for greatly enhanced access to congressional publications, economic data, and geo-spatial information.  In an understatement, the ability to locate current information without searching the card catalog has been very welcome.

Initially, we were concerned about duplication within our catalog: DWS records that might duplicate existing records for those titles that had been added to our OPAC over the years; duplication with records from other vendors such as Serials Solutions; apparent duplication when records are delivered for each of several formats of the same title.  This duplication does exist and we do not have the staff resources to eliminate the issue.  On the other hand, duplication does not seem to be a user concern.  I think users more or less expect some degree of duplication based on their experience and comfort with Internet search.