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Surviving the winter of our discontent: making the Early English Books series discoverable at MSU Libraries
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Surviving the winter of our discontent: making the Early English Books series discoverable at MSU Libraries

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When multiple departments at Mississippi State University began asking for titles out of the Early English Books microfilm series, it became apparent that there was a strong need for this series to be …

When multiple departments at Mississippi State University began asking for titles out of the Early English Books microfilm series, it became apparent that there was a strong need for this series to be cataloged—but how? With the daunting task of cataloging thousands of reels of microfilm with numerous titles on each reel, catalogers at MSU developed a master file using MarcEditor and used batch editing to speed up the process by around 900% when compared with the cataloging time from retrieving records individually from OCLC. This poster will discuss the process and benefits of this continuing project.

Speakers:
Melody Dale
Assistant Professor/Serials Cataloger, Mississippi State University

Published in Education
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  • 1. overview Process Process History When multiple departments at Mississippi State University began asking for titles out of the Early English Books microfilm series, it became apparent that there was a strong need for this series to be cataloged. With the daunting task of cataloging thousands of reels of microfilm with numerous titles on each reel, catalogers at MSU developed a master file using MarcEdit and used batch editing to speed up the process by around 900% when compared with the cataloging time from retrieving records individually from OCLC. When beginning the process, the catalogers searched OCLC for each individual record in the order they appeared in the guides. Because many of the titles were not in Modern English and had variant spellings, searching for them was slow and grueling, and each cataloger only averaged around 30 to 40 per day. Because this process was so slow-going, the catalogers began researching other ways of finding the records. After learning about MarcEdit’s Z39.50 Client, a raw search was conducted to harvest records to save into a master file. Initially, the range of publication years was used, but because the file was so large (over 110,000 records), the computer and/or client would freeze. To keep this from happening, the harvesting was instead done year by year, and then appended to the end of the master file. This took about six hours. OPAC ILS Bound-with Appearance in OPAC and ILS Master File Record After this process was done, the entire master file could be edited to meet the library’s needs. Normally deleted fields (029, 938, etc.) were deleted from the entire file within minutes. MarcEdit also allowed for a relatively simple process of copying field data from the 830 into a new field to create a call number ending in the reel/position number. The entire process of creating the master file took less than one working day. A copy of the master file was put on the computers of each of the three catalogers working on the project. By opening the master file in MarcEdit, the catalogers could search for the reel number then easily sort the results and copy the best record for each title into a new file. Usually, catalogers did this for about ten reels. After finishing the file, they would then bring the records into the ILS to go through the bound-with process. Although many departments were aware of the presence of the microfilm collection and its value for research, using the collection was very frustrating and time-consuming. After several professors asked for this series to be cataloged by title, the need was expressed to the cataloging department; thus the project began. Early English Books Guide When the Early English Books series was originally “cataloged,” each microfilm reel was linked to the serial record. Although every reel was linked and the series was considered cataloged, the only way to know which titles were in the series was by looking through the print guides located in the microfilm collection. These guides contained sequential listings of the titles as they appeared on each reel, but there was no cross-listing to help patrons search by title, and because these guides collectively comprised thousands of pages, they were virtually unusable. Benefits/Outcomes From February 19, 2014 to March 26, 2014, 3 catalogers working on the project two days a week cataloged 13,295 titles from the Early English Books Series. Broken down, this averages to around 369 titles per cataloger per day. This was a significant increase (about 900%) over the previous method. The catalogers are continuing to work on the project two days a week until it is finished, which will be much sooner than expected due to the new method. According to the librarians in the Government Documents area (where microfilm is located), this microfilm collection is heavily asked for, so the cataloging of the collection has helped both them and patrons by making titles easier to find. The library has used social media to promote the cataloging of the collection and is expecting the usage of this collection to increase over time as more individual titles are cataloged. Social Media Z39.50 Search