Midwinter Conference, January 25, 2003

Minutes of the MLA International Bibliography
in Academic Libraries Discussion Group ALA Midwinter Meeting, Philadelphia, PA
Saturday, January 25, 2003

Present: Bonnie Alpert [Ovid and SilverPlatter], Kristine Anderson, Dale Askey, Peg Bessette [Gale], Laura Bottoms, Michaelyn Burnette, Barbara Chen [MLA], Faye Christenberry, Madeline Copp, Charlotte Droll, Jane Faulkner, Bill Gargan, Gail Hueting, Kathy Johnson, Robert Means, Rob Melton, Marc Meola, Judy Reynolds, Amanda Roberts, Susanna Van Sant, Suzanne Waddell, Sue Waterman, Helene Williams


  1. Participants introduced themselves and their institutions. 
  2. Gail Hueting, MLAIB-L list moderator, noted that the list has about 50 subscribers, is an unmoderated listserv, and is fairly quiet. She added that she would be happy to provide information on how to subscribe. [Note: information on how to subscribe is available at the web site: http://www.lib.umd.edu/guests/mlaibdg/elist.html.] Hueting is willing to serve as listserv moderator for another year. 
  3. Susanna Van Sant, web editor, described the web site for the participants. The web site is located at http://www.lib.umd.edu/guests/mlaibdg/ and includes sections on
    • MLAIB Officers
    • Upcoming Meetings
    • Minutes from ALA Conference Meetings
    • Discussion Group Electronic List: MLAIB-L
    • Papers Presented at Discussion Group Meetings
    • Bibliography of Studies on the MLA International Bibliography
    • User Aids to the MLA International Bibliography

    Van Sant noted that the section on User Aids will probably be removed from the site since fewer and fewer such guides are being created, but Barbara Chen remarked that MLA would be interested in seeing these sites. Melton said that he had created guides for both the Bibliography and the Directory for the Ovid interface for the California system, but added that there might be problems in connecting to these from outside of the California system. Melton added that after making some criticisms of the first version of the Directory on Ovid, things have improved.


  4. The group discussed the challenges of finding MLA-related meetings at A.L.A. through the conference planner. 
  5. Barbara Chen, Director of Bibliographic Information Services and Editor, MLA International Bibliography, presented her report: 
    • The print 2001 edition was published in early fall 2002. The schedule was revised with this volume to allow for earlier receipt of the volume in the school year by libraries and enhanced coverage of current year titles in the electronic version. Instead of a 12-month cycle, we indexed for 10 months. This caused a slight drop in the number of records included in print to 52,628. The number of records sent to our electronic vendors remained constant with previous years. 
    • We signed an agreement with Ebsco Publishing to include the Bibliography on EBSCONET. The file debuted on August 1, 2002. Gale introduced the Bibliography as an Infotrac standalone product on December 18, 2002. This brings the number of vendors to 5: Ebsco, Gale, OCLC, Ovid, Silver Platter. 
    • As of October 2002, all records sent to electronic vendors included the appropriate accent marks and diacritics using the Latin 1 character format. Ebsco, Gale and OCLC have added them; Ovid and Silver Platter have not. 
    • This year, the Directory of Periodicals became available through all our electronic vendors. The Master List is the largest it have ever been with 4,422 journals and book serials listed. 52 new electronic journals were added. Updates to this file are now being sent two times annually. With the July 2003 update, we are hoping to include older records, not currently indexed. Expectedly users will be able to find historical information, name changes, cessations, etc. 
    • This past summer all 1963-1996 records were loaded from the mainframe onto Lotus Notes, our current editorial system. This allows us to make revisions to data throughout the year. We have also started sending retro files twice annually to vendors instead of once in April and October. The very old citations had not been edited in several years. With the ability to make corrections we are beginning a cleanup campaign to make the data more consistent. We will correct discrepancies in language, subject terminology (see references that were once used as terms have been cleaned up; singular vs. plural) and journal titles. 
    • The 2 indexers hired to work on J-STOR’s online language and literature collection have been fully trained and to-date have completed 17 journals and 1455 issues. Indexing will be available electronically through J-Stor some time late next year. In April 2003, we will also add J-STOR identifiers in our records to the electronic files enabling subscribers to link online from the Bibliography to J-STOR full text. 
    • Spec corrections records with English language translations of foreign works should all be consistent now; e.g. Crime and Punishment is searchable and viewable now for all Dostoevsky’s work. 
    • We are reviewing our pricing structure and will have reached conclusions by Summer 2003. 
    • 2002 deadlines approaching. Expect a banner year with regards to numbers for print. Will begin indexing 2003 material end of March.Barbara Chen
      Director of Bibliographic Information Services and Editor, MLA International Bibliography
      26 Broadway
      New York, NY 10004-1789
      tel. (646) 576-5076
      fax (646) 835-4021
      email bchen@mla.org


  6. Several questions followed. Meola inquired about indexing of JSTOR titles. Chen explained that pre-1963 indexing will only be electronic; they are going back in some cases as far as the 1880s. Copp asked about an expected completion date. Chen replied that 34 titles should be completed in two years, but that JSTOR added 15 more titles recently. Melton asked about whether the JSTOR titles would be identified in any way; Chen said they would be added to the Directory of Periodicals, if they had not already been. Droll inquired about how things would be better in April than in January; Chen replied that changes will make it easier to link to JSTOR titles from the MLAIB. Melton asked whether the print volume would have the retro citations; Chen-no, this is only electronic and there will be no retro records in print. Melton-not even a print supplement for print-only institutions? Chen-about 350 print subscribers, but MLA does not know whether they also subscribe to the electronic version. Anderson-how many electronic subscribers? Chen-thousands. Every year the number of print subscriptions goes down. 
  7. Chen noted that journals, such as PMLA, which are available as both print and electronic, will be available full text from Ingenta. The subscription will include Profession. Anderson-is there a price break for online subscription if you get the print? Chen-you can get either print only or print and online. $300 is the cost of print and online, with unlimited access through Ingenta. Johnson-will JSTOR eventually get the older volumes? Chen-yes. 
  8. Chen-English translations are now available for foreign titles, so it is important for vendors to reload their data. Anderson-are all the English titles for every record included? Chen-would have to check on this. Melton-is this true for 1963 on or just 1980 on? Chen-for everything. 1963-1980 might not have “work titles” though. Anderson-still have to search for original title? Chen-no SIFT for 1963-1980, so only searchable if it is in the title already. 
  9. Chen-last session, we discussed reindexing the 1963-1980 titles, about 600,000 records. MLA does not have the journals. Indexers can do about 5,000 records a year, so the project would need about 120 indexer years. About 35,000 have been done for JSTOR. Melton-concerned that some journals would be perfectly indexed all the way back, whereas others will always be problems. Try for a Mellon or NEH grant? 
  10. [Regarding upgrading the indexing for the non-JSTOR journals.] Chen-how interested are we in having it done? Reynolds-could OCR it and have something there. Chen-scanning difficult, but could have it keyboarded. About 5,000 pages-it could be done. However, for the editorial work, it would need a grant. Meola-we would want it, but how much to pay for it? Williams-a one-time purchase fee would help to support this. Meola-what do literary scholars at MLA say about retrospectively doing the 1921-1962 portion? Chen-not much. Would be great, but they don’t want to pay for it. Chen-MLA does have a grant to do the JSTOR journals. Limited time and money. MLA and JSTOR have a good relationship. Meola-would be interesting to have types of criticism over the 20th century indexed. Melton-trained librarians could be used to index. Chen-they would come and train us. Means-ABELL model? Chen-field bibliographers would index the retrospective portion. Williams-important for everyone to know the scope of what is indexed. Melton-everything fully indexed 1981 to the present and JSTOR journals fully indexed 1963-1980 as well, but other titles not fully indexed for that time period. Droll-what happens after this meeting? How to establish priorities? Chen, Williams-the Discussion Group’s listserv. Melton-send ideas to Chen. Chen-would be helpful to have something in writing on priorities. Burnette-this could be a discussion topic for the Summer 2003 meeting in Toronto. Ideas about where MLA should place its priorities. Gargan-argued against indexing dissertations. Chen-happy to bring this up again. Anderson-could MLA work with DAI to get a link? 
  11. Melton-any other strategic directions MLA might be going in? Chen-her interests are in how they can link to full text without getting into doing it themselves, in retrospective conversion of the 1921+ data, and in subject expansion, for example, to Chinese and Japanese. Van Sant-are vendors interested in linking? 
  12. Chen-committee is talking about indexing of web sites. Williams-no, don’t do that. It is being well done elsewhere. Melton-Scholarly Portal Initiative. Anderson-sites not stable. 
  13. Chen-Means asked her to comment on inclusion policy. Chen passed out a handout. Gargan and Melton-blurry line between review articles and reception studies? Williams-are you talking about scholarly review articles? Not reviews in popular magazines? Chen-not interested in book reviews; want more scholarly articles. Melton-would defer to scholars in the field. Where do they draw the line between a book review and a review article? He likes MLA to set its own scope and then for librarians to follow that. Worried about muddying the distinction. Would MLA indexing actually contribute to access to reviews beyond InfoTrac level indexing? Reynolds-like to see review articles when she was a graduate student. Melton-if indexing a review article, is there a “Publication Type= review article” option? Chen-not a Publication Type per se, but is noted in the indexing. 
  14. Chen-did a chart comparing vendors-what is available on each. Will be up soon on web site. 
  15. Means-some things don’t come up online that show up in print. Williams-relates to browsability online. Van Sant has noted some glitches in data loads; a year later, fewer records show up sometimes. Chen-tell her when these things happen; sometimes a single record is a marker for a larger problem. Chen-on differences between electronic and print versions: no italics in electronic version, but there are in print. Some diacritics not available electronically. Some weird characters that can’t be reproduced online; they make a note “graphic character omitted” in online citation. 
  16. Peg Bessette from Gale spoke at the July 2002 A.L.A. She updated the group on Gale activities with MLAIB. It has been released on the InfoTrac platform. Literature Research Center subscribers got the Directory of Periodicals as well. MLAIB on InfoTrac focuses on functionality. Algorithm to full text. Cooperation with PMLA on Ingenta. Bessette talked about the importance of integrated searches. She noted that LRC includes over 250 full text journals, of which over 150 are MLAIB journals. Gargan-how do InfoTrac and other versions of MLAIB differ? Bessette-LRC really is different because it integrates so many resources. Poses many possibilities for varying your results depending on your interests. Melton-how selective is InfoTrac? Bessette-InfoTrac MLAIB includes Merriam Webster Dictionary , Dictionary of Literature, also Gale Literary Index (free tool on theWeb). Links to holdings in InfoTrac and Ingenta. Bessette to Van Sant-can put the Gale MLA slides on the Discussion Group’s web site. [Note: this has been done. They are available in the section of Minutes from ALA Conference Meetings
  17. Participants made some comparative evaluations of Thesaurus searching in various vendors’ versions of MLAIB. Thesaurus searching works much better in some versions than in others. 
  18. Bonnie Alpert for Ovid/SilverPlatter: they put a lot of work into local support. Gargan-would like a local package to back up when systems crash. Alpert-they have a number of server centers and if one goes down, another takes over. Burnette-support for both Ovid and SilverPlatter? Alpert-yes. 
  19. Alpert-Ovid has an “auto alert” current awareness option. 
  20. Ovid has older interface which is changing. Burnette-get away from $ sign truncation? That is difficult for students using Ovid. Alpert-does not know. Will post answer to listserv. 
  21. Alpert-is everyone familiar with the Technical Support system? They now have five times the people and 24/7 support since a year and a half ago. 
  22. Reynolds-question about diacritics. Alpert-searches are disabled on Ovid and SilverPlatter if you don’t include diacritics in your search. 
  23. Melton-Ovid was very responsive in the Directory of Periodicals, changing from Keyword search default to Publication Title. Bessette-how is the Directory of Periodicals most frequently? To place a scholarly work? Melton-literary scholars use it. Librarians use it for information about particular titles. Sometimes keeping a database as close to print as possible is preferable. 
  24. Means-Ideas for the Toronto discussion:

    A. How important are subject terms for the 1963-1980 indexing?
    B. How important is it to add indexing for 1921-1962?

  25. Gargan-identify some journals first. Who has complete runs? Chen-or, if interested, which journals you have locally.Respectfully submitted by Kathy Johnson

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