Annual Conference, June 10, 1998

Minutes of the MLAIB International Bibliography
in Academic Libraries Discussion Group
Summer Meeting, ALA Annual Conference, June 10, 1998, 9:30-11:30 AM, Washington, DC


1. Welcome and Introduction:
Attendees (24 total) introduced themselves and stated why they were interested in the Discussion Group.

2. Appointment of a Recorder:
Faye Christenberry, Chair-Elect of the DG was appointed recorder of the meeting.

3. News and Updates from the MLA Staff:
a) Danielle Uchitelle:
– Danielle took a quick survey of the attendees to see which versions of MLAIB were being used most: FirstSearch continues to be the most popular platform, followed by SilverPlatter. A few institutions are testing OVID. Many maintain current subscriptions to both the electronic and print versions of the bibliography.
– Issues discussed include: why institutions have either canceled or maintained their paper subscriptions; the possibility of MLA giving a discount on the price of the paper version with a subscription to an electronic version; possibility of MLA issuing a CD-ROM version of the bibliography to those with FS subscriptions for archival purposes; loading the classification system on the MLA web site; whether or not there will be an electronic version of the Directory of Periodicals (*yes, there will be soon, according to T.Ford).
– Direct Tape Lease: Danielle reported that this is becoming more popular. Institutions currently accessing the bibliography thorough direct tape lease include Michigan, OhioLink, Dartmouth & Middlebury College.

b) Terry Ford:
Terry gave the group an update on the following items:
– The system conversion to ORACLE (Lotus Notes) is almost complete-it should be finished by the end of the year.
– The 1997 bibliography was 10% larger than the year before (includes over 50,000 records).
– Through the MLA Web site (, we will soon have access to the complete classified listings
– Questions to Terry: 1.) Are there plans to make a list of journals indexed available through the Web? Answer: no; however, an electronic version of the Directory of Periodicals is almost complete and will be included as part of the subscription package. 2.) Why doesn’t MLA index articles from Gale series (DLB/CA, etc.)? Answer: MLA in general does not index dictionary articles, but has considered some in the past, if they meet certain criteria.

4. Report from the MLA Advisory Board (Susanna Pathak):
Susanna is one of eight members that advise MLA on various issues concerning the MLAIB. The committee met once this past year in New York. Issues discussed include:
1.) Should the Bibliography expand its coverage of Asian materials? Latin American materials? Pedagogy? Composition? Books/monographs? The DG members responded with several questions: Why does MLA bother to include dissertations? Wouldn’t it duplicate ERIC for the composition/pedagogy materials? Why not include hyperlinks to web documents (leads to conference proceedings, etc.)? Why not index more electronic journals? Why include books at all?
2.) The Advisory Board has the authority to propose panels for the MLA conference. They did not receive any papers for this past year’s topics. If anyone has any ideas for 1999, let Susanna know by OCTOBER, 1998. (email:
3.) MLA Prize for a Distinguished Bibliography: the first prize was announced at the annual convention in December.

5. MLAIB and its European Competition (Rob Melton & Reinhart Sonnenburg): Rob Melton (U of Kansas) – ABELL vs. MLAIB:
– Most recent print version of ABELL was published in 1997 and covers material from 1995. – Currency of coverage in ABELL has improved-there is only a 2-year lag instead of 3 years.
– 20,000 citations in most recent volume (vs. MLAIB = 50,000).
– ABELL electronic coverage = 1960-1994; 1920-1995 will be available in 1998.
– Like MLAIB, ABELL does not include annotations or abstracts.
– ABELL tries to be more comprehensive in terms of including books and dissertations (it also includes British dissertations).
– Like MLAIB, ABELL does not include imaginative literature.
– Unlike MLAIB, ABELL includes reviews.
– ABELL is more expensive than MLAIB: of those attending the meeting, only 5 reported having electronic access.
– Until 1956, MLAIB was restricted to items published by American scholars ONLY. Because this was never the case with ABELL, it would be more comprehensive than the MLAIB for pre-1956 information.

Reinhart Sonnenburg (UC San Diego) – Bibliographie der deutschen Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft, or Eppelsheimer & Kottelwesch (E&K) vs. MLAIB:
– For comprehensive coverage of German literary criticism, it is best to have both E&K and the MLAIB.
– All entries indexed are housed at the Frankfurt am Main Library and deal only with German literature.
– 1996 issue contains 12,000 entries
– No annotations
– No dissertations
– Does include books and monographs
– For current material, E&K included more entries than MLAIB (15 vs. 1). But for older material, (pre-1980), MLAIB was more comprehensive.
– E&K is currently publishing an electronic version that covers material from 1990-present.

6. New Business: – Motion to change the time slot for the discussion group meeting 1999 ALA Annual Conference: Rob Melton asked that the group consider changing the meeting time from the usual Saturday morning slot (9:30-12:30) to Sunday afternoon (2-4pm), so that EALS could have a 3-hour slot for its program.

* Please respond either to the discussion group listserv or to Faye Christenberry ( by August 15th if there is opposition to changing the group’s meeting time at ALA Annual 1999.*

– Election of a Chair-Elect: Susan Peters, Emory University was elected as the Chair-Elect for 1998-1999.

7. Possible Topics for Next Discussion Group Meeting (ALA Midwinter, Philadelphia):
– What version of the MLAIB is best? SilverPlatter, OCLC, OVID? Scott Stebelman will post as a question on the listserv and we will discuss at the Midwinter meeting.
– Susan Peters (Emory U) will have access to ABELL on a one-year trial basis. She has volunteered to look at the product more closely and bring results to the Midwinter meeting.
– Linguistics coverage: comparison of LLBA, MLAIB, and BLL (Bibliographie linguistischer Literatur). Any volunteers?

Respectfully submitted, Faye Christenberry University of Kansas


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