:: Digital Libraries Columns


Library Journal "Digital Libraries" Columns 1997-2007, Roy Tennant

Please note: these columns are an archive of my Library Journal column from 1997-2007. They have not been altered in content, so please keep in mind some of this content will be out of date. :: Digital Libraries Columns

Enriching the Catalog


   After decades of costly and time-consuming effort, nearly all libraries
   have completed the retrospective conversion of their card catalogs to
   electronic form. However, our bibliographic systems still are really
   not much more than card catalogs on wheels. Enriched content that takes for granted--such as digitized tables of contents,
   cover art, reviews, summaries, and excerpts--are still rare in library
   catalogs. Commercial companies such as Baker & Taylor and 
   Solutions offer enriched content for recent materials, but it is
   usually not available for older books. Thankfully, that is about to

   In January 2004 a group of about 20 --led by Robert Kieft of Haverford
   College, Susan Perry of the Council on Library and Information
   Resources (CLIR), and the Mellon Foundation--met at the American
   Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in San Diego. The group
   considered what it would take to develop an organizational and
   technical infrastructure for creating and sharing enriched information
   about library holdings. They were enthusiastic about the prospects,
   perhaps because many of them had already been thinking about--or
   actively working on--this problem.
   Reports from the field

   Representatives of the Library of Congress Bibliographic Enrichment
   Advisory Team (BEAT) described gathering together online tables of
   contents and other information into a system that many libraries use as
   the source for such material. BEAT has existed for ten years and now
   regularly receives enriching information about new titles from

   The California Digital Library (CDL) described a proposal made in the
   late 1990s at the University of California (UC)-Berkeley to digitize
   book tables of contents (the Pathfinder Enrichment Project). This is
   now being implemented, in a very revised form, for books sent to
   offsite storage (see the TOC record in the Link List). CDL is also
   hiring a director of shared collections for the university.

   A librarian formerly with shared information about their
   experiences. For example, Amazon found that the quality of information
   supplied by publishers (using the ONIX standard) is often uneven. OCLC
   described its work to re-create WorldCat to accommodate enriching
   information more easily. Through a survey of members, OCLC discovered
   that 20 percent of its academic library members would contribute data
   to OCLC for enriching records.

   The Research Libraries Group (RLG) reviewed its work on the system, which seeks to make library systems more
   usable for college and university students. Including content such as
   tables of contents and reviews would be a good addition.

   The University of Illinois is partnering with Cornell and the CIC (13
   Midwestern research libraries) to think about new models for increasing
   intellectual access to physical materials, especially those in storage.
   Their perspective echoed that of others, who see the problem of brief
   bibliographic descriptions to be particularly acute for items in
   Where we're at

   Given the pent-up demand for enriched records, and the lack of any
   strategies for encoding and sharing them in standard ways, the
   participants have hit the ground running. One team was formed to work
   on organizational and political issues, while another is dealing with
   technical problems.

   The technical group met again at the Digital Library Federation (DLF)
   Spring Forum, with representatives from LC, OCLC, RLG, and the CDL in
   attendance. One outcome was a commitment to experiment with using MODS,
   METS, and ONIX to encapsulate enriched information and OAI-PMH to share
   these records. The group also sponsored a "birds of a feather" open
   meeting attended by 34 DLF participants who wanted to both hear about
   the project and offer advice.

   Planners will meet at the ALA annual conference in Orlando and hope to
   have the outlines of a demonstration project by year's end. A web site
   is also available (see Catalog Enrichment Initiative). For more
   information, see "Collaborative Project To Enhance Library Catalog
   Browsing" or contact Robert Kieft ([123]

   Both groups and individuals have talked about enriching our catalogs in
   recent years (e.g., see Dan Hazen's article). But with new standards
   emerging and expectations about information online increasing, all
   indicators point to this as the right time to act.

                                         LINK LIST
   Catalog Enrichment Initiative
   [124] Collaborative Project To Enhance
   Library Catalog Browsing
   /issues38.html#collab Hazen, Dan. "Making Collections Work,"
   C&RL News, February 1998, p. 97ff.
   [126] METS
   [127] MODS
   [129] UC-Berkeley Example TOC Record
   /nrlftoc/mets/100743205D-B3514358.xml UC-Berkeley Pathfinder Enrichment