Improving Retrieval of Microform Set Records: Updating 008 Dates for Records Cataloged Prior to 1991

By Wilson, Mary Dabney; Fullerton, John Paul | Information Technology and Libraries, June 2001 | Go to article overview

Improving Retrieval of Microform Set Records: Updating 008 Dates for Records Cataloged Prior to 1991


Wilson, Mary Dabney, Fullerton, John Paul, Information Technology and Libraries


A change in USMARC coding in bibliographic records for reproductions was implemented in 1991, and that change created inconsistencies between post-1991 major microform record sets and ones already existing in library catalogs. Because retrieval and display in OPACs may depend on Date 1 in USMARC field 008, this particular inconsistency has become more apparent and troublesome as records with newer coding have been added to catalogs containing records with older coding. Libraries have several choices in preserving their investment in the pre-1991 records. One way is automated editing of the records. We describe one method using Visual Basic.

Microform collections play a major role in providing access to out-of-print or rare materials that would otherwise be difficult to acquire or be completely unavailable to many academic library users. Topical microform collections, in particular, have been important in the development of many academic library collections. Newer libraries needing access to historical materials published before their parent institutions existed, and older institutions needing to support newly added disciplines, find purchasing microform collections an attractive option for building collections. As microform publishers began to make such collections available for purchase, a primary concern for libraries was the availability of analytical machine-readable cataloging records for the specific titles in the collections. Beginning in the 1980s, sets of analytic bibliographic records became available for purchase through individual vendors, OCLC's Major Microform Sets service (now known as OCLC WorldCat Collection Sets), or the Research Library Group RLIN Set Processing Service. Purchasing these bibliographic record sets continues to enjoy popularity as libraries recognize the benefit of public catalog access to set contents without increasing the work of in-house cataloging staff. Record quality may vary from set to set or even within sets, and postload clean-up can be significant, but the utility of these sets of records from a user access point of view cannot be denied.[1]

The purchase price of machine-readable records for large microform sets represents a significant investment in access, as does participation in cooperative projects to catalog the titles in individual microform sets. The magnitude of this investment should warrant maintenance of those records in online systems, especially when changing cataloging or coding conventions make data obsolete or inconsistent.

Albeit not without controversy, basic descriptive cataloging practice for both microform and macroform reproductions of monographs has remained relatively constant since the publication of the first edition of Anglo-American Cataloging Rules (AACR) in 1967. AACR called for the catalog record to be based on the original publication with information about the reproduction described in a note.[2] Crystal Graham observed that "the second edition of the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules (AACR2) completely reversed course ... by emphasizing the physical object instead of the original publication."[3] She goes on to describe in detail the controversy in the cataloging community associated with chapter 11 in AACR2. That controversy led to the contrary North American practice articulated in the Library of Congress's interpretation of chapter 11. In essence, the previous AACR practice of emphasizing the original publication rather than the reproduction was continued. While the bibliographic description was based on the original work, USMARC fixed-length data elements were coded to reflect the reproduction (e.g., country of publication, date type, and dates).

During the 1980s, the scale of preservation microfilming projects forced the reconsideration of cataloging practices. This is because rules required that each reproduction have its own separate record and with so many microfilming projects underway there was a proliferation of similar bibliographic records. …

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Improving Retrieval of Microform Set Records: Updating 008 Dates for Records Cataloged Prior to 1991
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