Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Thoughts while pulling stuff for weeding consideration

I spent most of yesterday pulling stuff to potentially weed and then looking over the stuff I pulled. Aside from the depressing reminder that a lot of the stuff we have in some subjects is very old, the task gave me several thoughts (actually, what really got me thinking about some of this was a great ALCTS e-forum, but weeding reminded me).

Say something hasn't circulated much, and we've had it in our collection for a while - I'm wondering, is the real reason some of this stuff hasn't circulated our catalog records? When I catalog stuff, I now add table of contents notes and/or summary notes to almost everything that doesn't already have that information. You'd be amazed at the number of books that don't have this information - I'd say that books on education, computing, and sports seem to be the worst offenders. It can sometimes take a bit of time, but I think it's worth it to input this information for the added keyword access. However, we have tons of records that don't have this information. We even have lots of records that are basically brief records (I have no idea what the exact numbers are, or even if there's a way to find out) - they have title and author information, but not much else. Those materials are basically invisible, unless someone knows the exact title or author or happens to find them while browsing.

It's wishful thinking, I know, but I'd love to one day upgrade some of those crappy records. One way to start would be to identify sections that should be getting more use than they are, or maybe titles that are really hard to find unless you already know how to find them. When I chose to add to the title access points for the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, it was because I knew that it tended to be difficult to find unless you knew how to look for it. I don't know general areas that need that kind of attention, though.

I wonder if there's a good way to find all the brief records in our catalog? The only thing I know about those that separates them from the other records in our catalog is that they tend to be all in caps, but not all records that are all in caps are brief records. Plus, I can't tell our ILS to give me a list of all records like that - it's just not possible to search that way.

Hmm, something for me to think about... Of course, that doesn't mean I'd ever have time to work on all those records. But, if I ever get a student worker, one I could trust to work directly on our records, I could have that person add table of contents information as part of a project.


  1. Wow, you bring up lots of good issues here.

    is the real reason some of this stuff hasn't circulated our catalog records?

    May be. I have been manually going through picture books for my LibraryThing genre project, and am discovering LOTS of books with the brief records, particularly ones more than 12 years old. It does make it hard to do keyword searches and so the children's lit students often don't find them. Often a lot of them are candidates for weeding anyway.

    I wonder if most of the brief records are the ones that came over in July 1996 when apparently we migrated from one ILS to another?? Tracy might know. Although I think your predecessor was not as thorough a cataloger as you are. :)

    Is there a way to do a report to pull up all records without a certain MARC field?

    if I ever get a student worker, one I could trust to work directly on our records, I could have that person add table of contents information as part of a project

    I love our student workers, but when you do get one of those really good ones you can trust with just about any project, they graduate, and you have to find someone else and train them.

    In my opinion there are some of our paraprofessional staff (I can think of at least two) who have WAY too much free time on their hands that perhaps could be trained to do things like this.

  2. I WISH there was a way to find records without a certain MARC field - you can finds one that DO have a certain field, but you can't find ones that DON'T. This would come in handy for finding some of the truly horrible errors (like a record I stumbled upon that didn't have author or title information, which I didn't think was even possible).

    As for the last bit of your comment, I'll see at some point about coming up with a good way to identify areas of the collection that might be best to work on first and then maybe bring it up during a meeting sometime.

  3. you know...I am ALWAY ready for a new issue to work what you want me to do and I'll start fixing things...
    I'll working on the Marc tag issue.

    Our previous Library director liked to "catalog" and he is responsable for most of the all CAPS records.

    Tarleton moved from a 'home grown' automation system in 1996 to DRA..and it was a disaster so LOTS of issue arose. Of course the thing that gets me is that in the 6 years between that move and the upgrade to Sirsi they (DSL staff) did NOTHING to clean up the mess.

  4. I also think the same paraprofessional staff that I was referring to (with too much time on their hands), besides being trained to add ToCs (well, maybe - not too sure about their competence for that), could definitely be trained to help with some of the deselection tasks that Sharon does.