Midwinter Conferenec, January 20, 1996

Minutes of the MLAIB International Bibliography
in Academic Libraries Discussion Group
Midwinter Meeting, ALA Conference, January 20, 1996
San Antonio, Texas


The Committee met and spent most of its time on two agenda items: (1) its projected publication (_The MLA International Bibliography: A Collection of Research and Critical Essays_), and (2) the discussion topic, “The MLAIB As A Collection Development Tool.”

1. The MLA International Bibliography: A Collection of Research and Critical Essays

Scott Stebelman, the Chair, proposed the following chapters be considered for publication. Next to the chapter titles are the names of people who have agreed to write the essays:

“The History of the MLAIB and Changes in Its Formats/Structure” (Danielle Uchitelle)

“The Role of the MLAIB in Scholarly Research”–how it is used by scholars, and how extensively

“Strengths and Weaknesses of the MLAIB As An Information Retrieval Tool” (Scott Stebelman)

“Use of the MLAIB for Collection Development Purposes”

“Comparison, and Overlap, of the MLAIB With Other Bibliographies”
(it was decided to expand this to two chapters–one dealing with humanities databases, the other with social science ones; Rob Melton has agreed to do the humanities, the specific focus to be decided)

“The MLAIB Thesaurus and Vocabulary Control”

“Analysis of the MLA’s Efforts to Market the Bibliography”

“Suggested Refinements for Improving Future Access”

Scott asked that an editorial committee be formed, to assist with some of the work and decision making. Bill Gargan and Michaelyn Burnette volunteered. The Chair of the ACRL Monographic Publication Series (may not be exact title) has expressed tentative interest in the series, as has a commercial publisher. Deadline for the manuscript to be sent to the publisher: January 1, 1997.

Discussion then shifted to the compilation of a bibliography of studies of the MLAIB. This would be the last chapter in the book. The period for citation inclusion is from the beginning of the bibliography (1922) through 1996. Whether or not the citations will be annotated will be determined by how many are identified. It was suggested that the bibliography appear both in the printed volume, and as an ongoing publication to be placed on our home page (see New Business). By the New York Summer ALA Conference, the following committee members will have checked these databases/bibliographies for citations:

MLAIB–Michaelyn Burnette
America: History and Life, and Historical Abstracts–Debora Richey
Dissertation Abstracts International–Richard Bleiler
ERIC–Sandy River
LLBA–Gail Hueting
WorldCat and RLIN–Margaret Gordon
Social Sciences Citation Index, and Arts & Humanities Citation Index–Scott Stebelman
Conference Proceedings Databases and Indexes (Not Yet Taken)
Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature–Yvonne Schofer
Library Literature, LISA, and Information Science Abstracts–Carol McAllister
Film Literature Index and International Bibliography of Theatre–Rob Melton
Anthropological Abstracts–Heather Martin
UnCover and Article1st–Sandy River
Expanded Academic Index–Rob Melton
Books in Print (Not Yet Taken)
British Books in Print (Not Yet Taken)
Internationale Bibliographie der Zeitschriftenliteratur (Margaret Porter)
FRANCIS (Not Yet Taken)
Essay and General Literature Index–Richard Bleiler
Koetelwesch–Reinhart Sonnenberg
Abstracts of English Studies–Richard Bleiler
Canadian Periodicals Index–Yvonne Schofer
Periodicals Contents Index–Margaret Porter
Education Index–Mary Cay Reynolds
Little Magazine Indexes–Scott Stebelman
Old Reader’s Guide and pre-cursors to Humanities Index and Social Sciences Index Humanities Index and Social Sciences Index, 1974 to 1996–Cathy Palmer
Citation files kept by the MLA staff

A question that will be addressed at our next meeting: how much focus on the MLAIB does an article have to have for it to be included–i.e., if an article only mentions the MLAIB in passing, should the article be included?

Other recommendations regarding the bibliography:

A bibliographer/literary scholar co-author one of the articles Have a user survey be part of the article “The Role of the MLAIB in Scholarly Research”
Discuss how MLAIB is incorporated into library instruction program
Discuss bibliographical authority in the age of the Internet

2. Discussion Topic: “The MLAIB As A Collection Development Tool”
Facilitated by Cathy Palmer, the discussion concentrated on how we used the MLAIB at our own libraries to support collection development or other functions. Responses included:

To buy Festschriften
To identify new literary periodicals for possible purchase, and to help decide which journals to retain or cancel
To identify potentially useful dissertations
To conduct searches on a particular author
To assist in establishing a cross-disciplinary core collection
To assist in conspectus collection analysis
To assist in faculty hiring; for example, one campus searched the MLAIB to identify scholars publishing in the area of African-American Colonial Studies
To assist in cross-disciplinary literature searches, such as “Perspectives on the Body in Renaissance Literature”
To identify seminal essays in an area, particularly scholars researching the “margins” To assist faculty with collection development suggestions

Some members don’t extensively use the MLAIB for collection development, because the database’s aim to be comprehensive undermines efforts to identify the “best” journals in a field. A brief digression occurred over the relative merits of the paper and electronic MLAIB; some members observed that browsing is much easier with the paper product, and that canceling it should be done with caution.

Terry Ford supplied a search strategy for searching recent monographic titles (applies only to SilverPlatter product): sn=94* and pt=book collection

(thanks to Cathy Palmer for supplying additional notes about the discussion)

3. New Business

For our discussion topic at New York Summer ALA, Scott will contact representatives of FirstSearch, SilverPlatter, and Ovid, and see if they would be interested in speaking to our group about issues involved in the delivery of the MLAIB through their services.

Terry Ford (of MLA) made a few comments. The bibliography now has an e-mail address, to which people can send messages: bibliography@mla.org
Terry made a pitch for new field bibliographers for the MLAIB; if interested, contact Terry at. One third of the bibliography is now being compiled by 120 members; over the last three years, librarians have been actively solicited. It was suggested that MLA use the ALA Conference as a time to train librarian bibliographers. In the future, consultants will be looking at the entire citation process and procedures. An MLA Web site will be up within the next few two or three months.

Scott will establish a Web site for the group, probably as part of his home page. Discussion group documents, such as the minutes and our projected bibliography, as well as links to other relevant Internet sites, could be placed on the page. Citations for the bibliography, as it is being compiled, could also be placed on the page, enabling contributors to avoid submitting duplicate citations.

Submitted by:

Scott Stebelman 


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