Annual Conference, June 23, 2007

MLA IB In Academic Libraries Discussion Group Minutes
Annual Conference, June 23, 2007
Hilton Washington: Caucus Room
Washington, D.C.

Agenda Item 1: What’s New at the MLA International Bibliography:
Barbara Chen, Director of Bibliographic Services & Editor, MLA IB

  • The 2006 print version of the Bibliography contains 67,047 records. The electronic Bibliography has 2,310,892 records.
  • Using grant funding from the Andrew J. Mellen Foundation, MLA finished indexing 14 titles from JSTOR’s Asian Studies collection. These records will become available with the October 2007 reload. Also available are the 58 journals in JSTOR’s language and literature collection.
  • Links to ten thousand Muse retrospective records were added in April 2007.
  • Links to fifty thousand ProQuest Digital Dissertation records are now in the database.
  • In April 104 scholarly websites were added with more to come in October. Indexing such websites was approved by the MLA Bibliography Advisory Committee last fall. The records are on a new (website) type of record.
  • Barbara hired a person to help standardize the subject headings for 1963-80.


Vince Graziano is comparing the coverage of the MLA IB and ABELL and notices many items included in one but not the other. Chen mentioned that there is a time lag, up to two months, involved in adding material to the Bibliography because the material has to be indexed, go to the thesaurus staff, and then be loaded in the next scheduled update to the file. Books tend to be indexed before journals, and key journals are covered before others. Field bibliographers do about 20% of the indexing. Please report articles not indexed in the Bibliography to Barbara. Articles might have been missed for a variety of reasons such as initial indexing being done based on author offprints rather than the entire issue or failure of the publisher to send issues. They are testing a new journal tracking system to identify issues which have not been received. Lack of storage space means that the MLA cannot keep more than two years any journal; older issues are boxed or donated to libraries in Poland. In response to a question about the availability of a list of edited books indexed in the Bibliography, Barbara said that users can ask for book collections in the last update of the Bibliography. With each update, Barbara will be creating a link in the MLA home page to a list of titles.  The first one will be available soon as the text has already gone to our copyeditors.  Barbara will make an announcement on the MLAIB DG and LES listservs when it goes live. At each MLA convention, Barbara urges publishers to send copies of books for indexing by her staff. They also get monthly lists of language and literature books from OCLC and send letters to publishers asking for copies. One person indexes electronic books for the Bibliography. They are working with vendors on transliteration issues.

Agenda Item 2: Selection of New Convener

Liorah Golomb, Wichita State University , volunteered to convene the group and was selected by acclamation.

Agenda Item 3: Updates from MLAIB Vendors


To create entries for each journal in the Directory of Periodicals, the MLA sends publishers questionnaires which include a question on peer review. If the publisher does not respond to the query, MLA uses the information in Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory, which may not always be correct.

Agenda Item 4: Discussion

What would a perfect literature index look like? Might contain abstracts or full-text. Barbara said that the inclusion of abstracts is on her radar. She may ask if the MLA could use journal-created abstracts. She is talking to PMLA about the logistics of adding their abstracts to the records in the Bibliography. Another possibility is digitizing the MLA Abstracts of Articles in Scholarly Journals, published 1970-1975. Rob Melton contributed the idea of digitizing some of the now-defunct annual bibliographies such as The Romantic Movement or bibliographies published in serials; copyright issues would have to be worked out. Aline Soules suggested that we need to convince publishers that each article should have an abstract written by the author, though the inclusion of abstracts might cause delays in indexing. EBSCO, which has acquired America: History and Life and Historical Abstracts, has a service agreement with ABC Clio to continue creating the indexing and abstracting for these two resources. Barbara reminded us that all enhancements become available in the April reload of the database.


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