Midwinter Conference, January 12, 2008

MLA IB In Academic Libraries Discussion Group Minutes
Midwinter Conference, January 12, 2008
Loews Philadelphia: Lescaze Room

The 2008 Midwinter MLAIB DG had an excellent turnout in Philadelphia. Forty-three attendees signed the sign-up sheet, though a head count puts the actual number closer to 50. Roughly a third of the attendees were WESSies (members of the Western European Studies Section).

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

  • The 2007 print version of the Bibliography is near completion and contains roughly 67,000 records.
  • Although the grant from the Mellon Foundation ran out, MLA hired staff to finish indexing the titles from JSTOR’s Asian Studies collection.
  • MLAIB Online: There are over 10,000 links to Project Muse full text from approximately 200 titles.
  • In April 104 scholarly websites were added and another ~100 were added in October. Contact Barbara at bchen@mla.org with website suggestions.
  • At Annual 2007 participants in the MLAIB DG expressed a desire to have abstracts added to MLA IB records. So far, MLA is adding abstracts from Project Muse, PMLA (retrospective to 1971 or 1967), and the American Association of Teachers of German.
  • The MLAIB welcomes inquiries from qualified potential field bibliographers. Interested persons should send their CVs to bchen@mla.org. Also, the MLA awards 10 fellowships annually to bibliographers. Applicants must belong to MLA and be able to make a 3-year commitment to add 100 records per year from 5 journals. Payment is made at the end of the three years.

Agenda Item 2: Updates from MLAIB Vendors

  • Mary Onorato (Gale)

Mary began with a brief look back at the days of researching before electronic resources. She discussed Gale’s efforts to make all of their platforms uniform so that a user who has worked with Expanded Academic, for example, would be able to transfer those skills to the MLAIB or any other Gale database. She informed us that scope notes have been added, and that the MLAIB is cross-searchable with the Literature Resource Center, Lit Finder, and Gale e-books. This year a “guided tour” will be added to the interface.


How does a search select the top 25/50/100 terms? By recency, frequency, or otherwise? Answer: by an algorithm that takes into account frequency of keywords, their placement within the article, etc. Also, there was a question regarding authors and works and whether they were found in a subject search. Mary responded that authors and works are integrated in a subject search.

EBSCO’s version of the MLAIB online cross-searches Literary Reference Center. It is possible to limit searches by time period and to exclude dissertations. The “Add to Folder” function now allows for the creation of multiple folders and in the future will be able to share and e-mail folders. The major change in the interface is the Visual Search, a tool to allow users to display results in either blocks or columns. Visual Search also has a drag-and-drop feature to “collect” articles.


It was noted that Visual Search is not the same as tag clouds or clusters, but rather it was text disguised to look like clusters. Bethany said that the Visual Search, while it has been released, is still being tweaked.

OCLC will be providing abstract content to MLA beginning in April 2008. It is also providing links to websites and to open access content.

LION with MLA now has direct links out to Oxford Reference Online (ORO). ORO has direct links into LION. The linking is enabled for mutual customers. LION has added volume and issue numbers to records which can be viewed from the browse list. CSA Illumina has added My Research option to create alerts, RSS feeds and save searches. Finally, subscribers of the MLA on either the CSA version or the Chadwyck-Healey version can contact their sales representative to have the other interface turned on for access at their institution at no additional charge.

Agenda Item 3: LES Member Activities

Aline Soules announced that she is co-authoring a paper, with Leigh Anne Palmer, comparing the various MLAIB interfaces.

Agenda Item 4: Possible Discussion Topics at 2008 Annual

We discussed the possibility of having the vendors respond to the same research questions, which they would get well in advance of the meeting, for the purpose of comparison. This was done for the January 2005 meeting. Kathleen Kluegel will provide the original questions to me for my reference. Please send your search suggestions to liorah.golomb@wichita.edu.

Minutes prepared by Liorah Golomb, 2008 Convenor of the MLAIBDG, January 23, 2007.


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