Annual Conference, June 25, 2005

MLA Discussion Group Minutes:
Saturday, June 25
ALA Annual 2005 – Chicago, IL

In attendance: Rob Melton (UC-San Diego); Yvonne Schofer (UW-Madison); Dan Coffey (Iowa State); Juliet Kerico (Indiana State); Beth Close (EBSCO); Bryon Rivers (EBSCO); Douglas Black (Nova Southeastern U); Melisssa VanVuuren (IUB); Judy Reynolds (San Jose State); Peg Bessette (Gale); Mary Onorato (Gale); Faye Christenberry (U Washington); Gregory Heald (U Northern Colorado); Dawn Lawson (NYU); Bill Wortman (Miami (Ohio)); Laura Farwell Blake (Harvard); Mary Beth Clack (Harvard); Helene Williams (Harvard); Mary E Bogan (Emporia State); Kathy Johnson (U Nebraska-Lincoln); Sarah Brechner (ProQuest); Jack Levine (Reed College); Stephanie Graves (Southern Illinois); Jennifer Stevens (GMU); Michael Rodriguez (Michigan State); Charlotte Cubbage (Northwestern); Annette Keogh (Stanford); Madeline Copp (Johns Hopkins); Angela Courtney (Indiana); Karen Munro (U Oregon); John Tofanelli (Columbia); Michaelyn Burnette (U C-Berkeley); John Novak (U C-Irvine); Jane Faulkner (U C-Santa Barbara); Barbara Chen (MLA); William Gargan (Brooklyn College); Laura Fuderer (Notre Dame); Vince Graziano (Concordia University)

I. Selection of New Chair for 2005-06

John Novak (Univ of Cal, Irvine) was selected to chair this committee for the 2005-06 year.

II. MLA Report from Barbara Chen

The MLA Bib staff has spent the last six months working on several projects in addition to their current indexing:

— 2004 print production closed in late March with almost 66,000 records – identical numbers to last year.

— As of April 2005, the electronic version of the bibliography included 1,742,233 bibliographic records.

— 7,800 JSTOR links were added in April 2005, making more than 72,000 JSTOR articles available to users. This represents completion of 44 of the original 47 JSTOR journals and links to more than 120 non-l&l titles. 11more l&l journals were added to JSTOR’s database in Spring of this year. We haven’t indexed them yet. Expected completion is December. Then the file will be reviewed and ready next Spring. We are also working on a scheme that will enable us to continue adding links as available – either to the language and literature collection or to the other journals.

— Over 10,000 DOI’s were also attached to records for the first time in April.

— Electronic books are now being indexed too.

— Retrospective cleanup of 1926-1962 volumes continues. We have started the last phase of this project – which is unifying subject headings. We are going to make them consistent with current practices. For example, full subject author names in place of last name only.

— The vendors are all loading the files quickly including the retro update. Unfortunately we had a problem with the retro data which we hadn’t realized until a customer alerted us. About 9,000 records were missing subject authors. We found the problem and within a week, had new records available to vendors for reloading. The vendors have really been doing an excellent job with loading our files. I do want to commend CSA who loaded the May file the day it was sent!

— How to Use the MLA Bibliography is completed and is now in copy editing at the MLA. Hopefully soon it will be available on the web site.

— The 2005 bibliography fellowships were announced to applicants about a month ago. We will write to all bibliographers in our August 2005 newsletter. Several librarians are included in the list:

Dawn Lawson (New York University, Librarian); Alma Ortega (University of San Diego, Assistant Professor/Librarian Latin American, Spanish and Portuguese literature); Sue Waterman (Johns Hopkins University, librarian French literature, history of the book); Juliet Kerico (Indiana State University, was appointed to the Advisory Committee for the MLA International Bibliography by the Executive Council in the spring. She will serve a 3 years term starting in the fall); Faye Christenberry, (U of Washington, is our current chair.)

III. Reports from the major vendors of MLA

CSA : not present, no updates provided



EBSCO Publishing is continuing to improve the functionality of the MLA database using EBSCOhost technology and development as well as implementation of new data as provided us via MLA.

With a new Academic year just underway, one feature MLA users should be looking for is MY EBSCOhost. This tool allows users to set up a personal folder in which they can save searches for future use; review search history; print, e-mail or add results to a web page; even set up alerts that automatically send an e-mail alerting the user to a new article on a chosen subject or when the latest issue of a particular journal is added to EBSCOhost.

A brand new feature just added to EBSCOhost gives users the ability to print, save or e-mail search history from their personal folder. Selection and management of search history items and alerts is also now possible from the basic search screen, a feature previously available only on the advanced search screen.

MLA customers who subscribe or have access to EBSCO databases such as Academic Search Premiere, Academic Search Elite and Advanced Placement Source also have the ability to link to full-text versions of indexed records, making their MLA subscription even more valuable.

A new checkbox-style limiter allows users to choose only items designated as “Electronic Publications” and custom linking for “Dissertation abstract numbers,” “Genre” (for open URL) and “Book title” (for book articles) is now available within the index record.

In order to provide patrons the fastest possible access to MLA International Bibliographies on EBSCOhost, currently in development is The EBSCOhost Toolbar, which will be available directly from your Firefox 1.0 or Internet Explorer 6.0 browser.

EBSCO also continues to focus on improved URL compliancy and improving linking capabilities to OPAC, as the MLA has requested.



Thomson Gale MLA Offerings: Forthcoming Plans

Thomson Gale offers the MLA International Bibliography both as a standalone database on the InfoTrac platform and integrated with the Literature Resource Center (LRC).

We are in the process of migrating all of our database offerings to a new online delivery platform that will offer enhanced functionality for MLA International Bibliography and all of our online databases. Forthcoming features include:

* Browseable indexes

* Citation export (export to bibliographic management tool)

* Improved open URL

* Expanded search index and limiter options

* Ability to refine searches at the result list level

* Cross-searchability with other Gale online databases

* Common user experience (standard interface) to alleviate user learning curve/training burden on librarian


OCLC — not present, no updates provided



ProQuest delivers the MLA International Bibliography (MLAIB) in two versions: as a standalone Chadwyck-Healey Literature Collection and as a module within Literature Online. Literature Online subscribers can access either version. In Literature Online, MLAIB is cross-searchable with ABELL (The Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature) and linked to over 174 scholarly journals from LION and JSTOR collections owned by a library.

MLAIB Standard Search Page

We have modified the Standard or Basic Search page, by adding 3 new fields which users have reported would be more useful: ‘Language of Publication’, ‘Author as Subject’ and ‘Author’s Work’.

Citation export

We have added the option to export batches of citations directly to EndNote or other reference managers. This feature can be found via the Marked List, where there is a new option to ‘Download Records’. For best results, users should choose the ‘RefMan RIS’ filter when exporting into EndNote. Users still have the option to email records in an EndNote-compatible format for importing at their convenience.

Work on improving specific details of our reference manager implementation is ongoing, and further enhancements will appear in forthcoming releases.

Outbound OpenURL Linking

Both Literature Online and the MLAIB standalone support outbound OpenURL linking. Librarians and administrators can enable or modify OpenURL linking directly via a customization page in the Information Centre, which is a link off the menu bar.

MLAIB records are fully optimized for generating OpenURL queries, since they are fielded to a high level of granularity, and contain ISSNs and ISBNs. We have responded to feedback regarding the format of our outbound OpenURL implementation: OpenURL 0.1 is now used consistently, using the ‘title’ meta-tag as opposed to ‘jtitle’ or ‘btitle’.

Customers may now set up options for outbound links to appear for all records or limited to only those that include ISSNs or ISBNs; this applies to both Literature Online and the MLAIB standalone.

Inbound OpenURL Linking

‘Fuzzy’ inbound linking has been implemented. Information on the fields and attributes that are supported can be found in the Resources for Librarians area of the site.

Z39.50 compliance has been implemented.

MLAIB Version History

In the ‘Information Centre’ of the MLAIB standalone, you will find a new page detailing the Version History of the database: this lists the update code and date of each data update.

Future Releases :

Presentation of MLA Thesaurus: currently our ‘select from thesaurus’ lists are based on the data that appears in the descriptor fields of the MLAIB records; we are planning a range of enhancements to these lists, such as using controlled lists to reduce ‘noise’, and adding cross-references for non-preferred terms.

De-duping of results for a cross-search of both ABELL and MLA: We are continuing to look at this enhancement for users and would like additional feedback from librarians on the usefulness of such a feature.

IV. Suggestions for our mid-winter discussion

One idea: Dividing vendor time — in-depth presentation from all vendors, discussing updates and enhancements of the search features. In this venue, vendors can update their enhancements and also receive feedback to make their versions better. Also would build and promote vendor/client relationships.

Another idea : After the presentations, vendors will sit at separate tables, allowing librarians to approach and to talk with providers about specific concerns. Many of the attendees felt that this would be a good idea. (Action Item: Midwinter will have one conference table per vendor to pursue this idea)

V. Federated Searching

In an open forum, an attendee asked about federated searching and how products like MetaLib or MetaFind work with different MLA formats. Some suggested that this topic could be addressed at the mid-winter ALA meeting.

First Issue: linking, especially if MLA gives multiple ISBNs for a record. Sometimes SFX will look for one edition but not all of them.

Another issue: what order are databases searched. One attendee answered that the fastest search is the one returned first.

Another issue: how does the federated search engine return to the native interface after this? What capabilities will we lose if we rely on these federated search engines?

Another issue: Do federated searches undermine “power searching”? After all, humanities indexing use discipline-specific terms that can be lost in a keyword search environment.

VI. Other comments

One attendee suggested that MLA should begin indexing scholarly Web sites.

One asked if MLA will start including abstracts. Barbara Chen said she will look into this.

James Harner is trying to make his “literary Research Guide” a portal. Stay tuned.


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