Project Coordinator: Bill Constantine, Manager, Data Quality and Standards
Address: Library LDDK G11 Botany St., Information Resources Department, Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia
Telephone: 02 93853798
Problem(s) To Be Solved:
- Mixture of old and new headings in catalog
- Absence of authority control in local system
- Need to handle Australian geographic subject headings in a different way than LCSH
- Authorities Processing for Backfile
- Special processing: Australian option
- Overnight Authorities and Notification Service with NewMatch
The University of New South Wales (UNSW) is in Sydney and is one of the larger universities in Australia with a full-time equivalent enrolment of about 30,000 students. It is heavily research focused and its main strengths are in the areas of medicine and engineering.
The Library is concentrated in three buildings: the Main Library, the Law Building, and the College of Fine Arts campus.
The Library has endeavoured to concentrate on the provision of electronic resources and less on the collection of print resources. This mainly reflects the strengths of the university in the sciences and medicine which traditionally focus on current resources.
Since the Aleph system was installed in 2002, the authorities module had not been turned on. Therefore, over a period of about seven years, cataloguing was performed without the benefit of an authority module nor was there any cleanup or updating of headings.
Over time, it was found that the catalogue was being filled with a mixture of new and old headings, and the old incorrect headings were being used by later cataloguers. In the interests of productivity, going out of the system to look up external authorities lists (e.g., LCSH) for the newest form of every heading was not encouraged.
Therefore we had no authority module, no easy way of checking the headings of new records, and no way of correcting old records to update the headings.
The reason we chose MARCIVE to help solve these problems was that I had seen only good reports about them through various mailing lists. Cataloguing librarians are always good judges of whether a vendor is doing it right as you just know if there is a detail that is wrong in a process or data, they will find it! When I looked at their website it seemed to offer exactly the type of service we wanted. The documentation was very easy to follow and made it a simple process to fill in my requirements.
The first step was to set up our authorities module in Aleph. It was useful to use the 1% test data that MARCIVE sent back to us as the first step in the process to test out the setting up of the authorities module.
We also requested not just a test of 1% of our records but a further test of 10% of our records. Although most clients probably don’t ask for this, MARCIVE was easily able to cater for this extra testing step and did not make me feel like I was imposing on them and rushing for me to send the whole database.
At every step of the process they delivered records back to us on time or faster than what they quote in their documentation. We were pleasantly surprised. I now have confidence in their delivery dates and there is no reason to believe others couldn’t either.
We sent about 1 million records to be cleaned up by MARCIVE with authorities processing, with about 700,000 authority records being supplied back to us. It was found that overall 8.3% of the headings involved needed to be changed in this processing of the whole database.
After the cleanup of the whole database, we now export newly added records to our database every three months and import the cleaned up records using Overnight Authorities. We have found that 1.8% of the headings need changing by MARCIVE with each of these authorities jobs.
MARCIVE was very helpful and patient during the process of backfile authorities processing as we had to set up our authority module first before any processing could begin. MARCIVE also was able to customise at no extra charge a characteristic peculiar to Australian headings. In the Library of Congress Subject Headings list (LCSH), the geographic subdivisions for anywhere in Australia always start with “Australia”, and then subdivide into the state. In Australia, geographic subdivisions start with the state, not Australia, in the same way as US subdivisions work. MARCIVE was able to program their software to strip out the “Australia” subdivision and it works very well.
With the cleaned up records coming back I now need only to check the bib records indicated in the error report from the Overnight Authorities loads from MARCIVE. So my quality control can be a lot more targeted as I know that MARCIVE is taking care of the great majority of records.
The cost of the service is very small compared to the time saved in the cataloguing department. Our headings list now is much smaller but accurate, making looking up a heading whilst cataloguing original material much quicker. The cataloguers are much happier as they are now confident that if the system accepts a heading it is correct and needs no action. They are also confident that any heading that comes back from the system as not matching needs checking for typos, etc.
It is difficult to measure what the reaction has been from the students as hopefully they should simply be aware that they are finding the titles they need. However those at the reference desk have stopped complaining to me about embarrassing mistakes they were finding in records when helping students use the catalogue! Our statistics show that when students narrow their basic keyword searches, they are using the headings 16% of the time. This shows how much our users are relying on consistent headings.
My advice to anyone doing authorities processing is to be sure of your own data in the first place. I was surprised at how much rubbish there was in our bibliographic database that MARCIVE cleaned out with our authorities processing load. However there was data that we still needed that I had to deal with before sending it to MARCIVE. MARCIVE was easily able to accommodate having this data in local MARC tags and will leave these tags alone whilst stripping out old irrelevant tags.
I recommend anyone using the Notification Service choose the missing link option, which is sometimes called the death date option. This option is not just for the death dates of authors though. When LC changes a heading and doesn’t put the old heading in a See From reference, which they seem to do quite often, MARCIVE does it. It is great relief to me that they are doing this as it is another part of catalogue checking that I do not have to do.
An option I find really helpful is the NewMatch option. When we catalogue a title, the author may not be in the Library of Congress Name Authorities file (LCNA) yet, however MARCIVE keeps track of all our unmatched new headings and usually I find a couple of months later a new authority record will come to us for the unmatched author. It gives me a great deal of confidence to know that MARCIVE is working for me even for old headings.