Minutes of the MLA International Bibliography
in Academic Libraries Discussion Group
ALA Midwinter Meeting, New Orleans, LA
January 19, 2002


  1. Welcome and Introductions:

    Susanna Van Sant, Chair of the MLA International Bibliography in Academic Libraries Discussion Group, convened the discussion session on Saturday, January 19, 2002. See below for the names of attendees who signed in. Around thirty people were at the meeting, although not all for the entire time.

  2. List Serve and Web Page Update

    Gail Hueting, List Moderator, noted that she is the "MLAIB-List owner." The List has been trouble-free, but not very active. She would like to get some discussions going.

    Van Sant passed out a sheet with the List Serve address and Web site URL.

    Van Sant is the web editor, but asked if anyone else would like to be web editor. If so, they should contact her. The web site is not located through A.L.A., because A.L.A. will not host discussion groups. Therefore, if the editor changed, the site would also have to change.

    Van Sant encouraged everyone to visit the site and noted that she can add user guides to the web site.

    Someone asked whether there has been a survey of web platforms. An informal show of hands revealed two FirstSearch, four Ovid, six or seven SilverPlatter, and possibly one on Gale.

  3. Update from MLA Headquarters

    Barbara Chen, Director of Bibliographic Information Services and Editor, MLA International Bibliography, presented the following information. [The following information was provided by Barbara Chen for inclusion in the minutes.]

    The 2000 volume was published in late November. The closing date for the 2001 volume is earlier this year, in mid-April. This will enable us to get the volume out earlier in the semester (September) for students. Also will allow us to begin indexing 2002 material much earlier (March) - a win-win situation. Since there will only be 10 months in the cycle, our numbers may be lower than last year.

    2000 bibliography was a record breaker with regards to numbers. 61,483 records. This represents a 10% increase in coverage. The teaching sections were represented with about 2,500 citations. A separate volume for Rhetoric and Composition was created for the 4C's. This material was also available in volume 4.

    MLA became part of Gale's Literature Resource Center in late July 2001. There were several positive reviews of the new version in Library Journal. One was in the November 2001 issue and another in the NetConnect Fall 2001 supplement.

    Sometime this fall, Directory of Periodicals became available on OCLC. 3,336 journals and series were covered in the 2000 volume and the number of titles now included in this listing is over 4,456.

    List of Current Directory of Periodicals (with journal title and issn) is now available on our home page.

    MLA staff began indexing West Asian journals: Persian, Turkish and Arabic. Due to the political climate of the region, there is some difficulty receiving journals but we are continuing to pursue the issues. We are also taking advantage of the libraries in our area for this. We have 3 staff members devoted to this task.

    The Bibliography has increased the number of electronic journals covered to 39 titles.

    Electronic monographs that are part of series are also listed (e.g. Romantic Praxis from the Romantic Circles website). Use the phrase "electronic publication" to find citations to electronic material.

    MLA is exploring indexing URL's/web sites for literature and language, but such a project is viewed as a longer term goal. What do you think?

    We have also begun indexing journals for JSTOR. They are expecting 34 language and literature full text titles to be included in their collection. We will begin with volume 1, number 1 of each journal listed. For example, PMLA was first published in 1883 and we will cover all the way back till that year. The indexing will be found in JSTOR as well as in the electronic versions of the bibliography. This is a 2 year project that was started in fall 2001.

    We are also in the process of moving our retrospective data from 1963-1996 onto our current platform, Lotus Notes, from our mainframe. This will enable us to make corrections in the data more easily and more frequently, at least 2 times per year. This task is 90% completed. Updated citations will be sent to vendors in April. We are looking to improve our ISSN and ISBN reporting.

    We are attempting to recruit more field bibliographers and to enhance our communications and training with them. We have completed a second draft of our field manual, expecting to mail a finished version later this month. We surveyed the current bibliographers to be able to better understand what their needs are.

    Advertisement for the bibliography is appearing now in library publications. [End of Barbara Chen's report.]

    Members of the Discussion Group asked Chen about several matters:

    Seten Berghausen asked how they select which books to index. Chen replied that this can be problematic. MLA staff review publishers' catalogs and ask publishers to send books. If the books are not sent, they are not indexed. As a general rule, MLA does not purchase books; they rely on the New York Public Library and New York University collections. Chen added that books sent by publishers to MLA are indexed in house at MLA.

    Chen noted that edited or authored books are coded as "BM"--"Book Monograph" and that analyzed books are coded "BC"--"Book Collection."

    Regarding the JSTOR indexing, Judy Reynolds noted that Jaws cannot handle JSTOR and thus the materials may not be available to all users.

    RH asked about MLA's plans to index pre-1963 articles beyond JSTOR, noting that ABELL does so from 1920 on. He recommended charging a flat one time fee for a database covering 1921 through 1962. Someone else observed that making a one-time purchase payable over three years would be helpful.

    Meola asked about the recent article critical of the MLAIB. [Alexander, Harriet. "Searching the MLA International Bibliography: All, Nothing, or Something Between?". Reference & User Services Quarterly. 40.3 (Spring 2001) 228-233.] Chen replied that perhaps there are some inaccuracies in the article and added that 43,000 subject headings in the thesaurus do exist and that MLAIB does have a controlled vocabulary. Indexers can add new subject headings not in the thesaurus. Three people on staff review all citations.

    Someone remarked that labels (Novel, 1800-1899) and identifiers are much freer terms than subject headings. Chen wants to make the MLAIB the best that has ever been. She noted the tendency to use related terms more than to use hierarchical terms.

    Anderson noted the value of cross references from various translations of foreign language titles back to the original title in the original language.

    RH asked what transcription system MLA uses. Chen said that they use Library of Congress transliteration systems. None of the vendors make a link from one version to another of a name. Another discussion group member added that MLAIB users want comprehensive searches. RH said that it is very important to know which transliteration system is used, especially with Asian writers. For example, Viet Nam or Vietnam?

    Droll thanked Chen for the links between MLAIB and local books and asked how far back this will go. Chen noted that the issue is with retrospective materials and added that it is crucial to have the correct ISBN or ISSN in order to make the links. For retrospective data, they try to go back and find the ISBNs. RH appreciated that ISSN corrections are made very promptly. Another person observed that author reception studies make older indexing valuable.

    Droll noted that indexing Web sites is inevitable (especially sites for the teaching of literature) and that the MLAIB staff should be prepared for this eventuality.

    Burnette inquired about whether anyone at MLA is pursuing grant possibilities to index the 1921-1962 portion; Chen replied that anything is possible, but that she wants to make sure that the current JSTOR project works. Burnette suggested that a volunteer effort through field bibliographers could make the retrospective work possible. Someone else thought that the JSTOR model (Mellon Foundation grant plus libraries putting in money up front) might work to fund an MLAIB retrospective effort.

  4. Interface and content update from OCLC/FirstSearch

    Ishwar Laxminarayan, Senior Marketing Specialist, OCLC Reference & Resource Sharing, provide the Discussion Group with a handout to give an overview of MLAIB on FirstSearch.

    Laxminarayan will send Van Sant a list of the full text journals they can do for MLAIB, noting complete, most heavily cited, and with dates of coverage.

    Reynolds asked about clickable subject headings. Laxminarayan explained that they are not active because of problems with MLAIB's subject headings. He added that he will take back Reynolds' request for clickable subject headings.

    Laxminarayan explained also that in MLA, headings and sub-headings are all together, but in WorldCat, they are separate.

    Someone asked why OCLC links only to title, but not to individual holdings. Laxminarayan replied that this is under development. The National Circulation Interchange Protocol will help to identify individual pieces or volumes in a library.

    One participant noted the problem of "hits" on Dissertation Abstracts International, making people think that the institution has the dissertations themselves. RH noted that his institution suppressed the ISSN to take care of this problem. One woman suggested changing the default to exclude dissertations, but most others preferred to disable the hot link.

    Borgeest suggested not treating DAI as a periodical. Someone suggested doing dissertations as a separate category to bypass the problem.

    Van Sant observed that linking some descriptors in the MLAIB would be difficult and that a "more like this" search would be useful. Reynolds noted that MLAIB on SilverPlatter does allow subject heading searches and has a thesaurus.

    Laxminarayan noted that his organization appreciates suggestions and asked people to email them to him. Ishwar_laxminarayan@oclc.org

  5. Planning for Annual

    Van Sant asked for agenda requests. Chen plans to attend the June meeting in Atlanta. Discussion Group members were enthusiastic about having another "vendor extravaganza" in a high tech room.

Minutes by Kathy Johnson, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


List of attendees who signed in:

Kristine Anderson, Purdue University
Sara Seten Berghausen, Duke University
Richard Bleiler, University of Connecticut
Michaelyn Burnette, University of California Berkeley
Barbara Chen, MLA
Faye Christenberry, University of Kansas Ellen Crowley, Gale Group
Gail Hueting, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Kathy Johnson, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Kathleen Kluegel, University of Illinois
Ishwar Laxminarayan, OCLC
Robert Means, Brigham Young University
Marc Meola, The College of New Jersey
Tom Nixon, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Hillary Nunn, University of Michigan
Veronica Reyes, University of Arizona
Judy Reynolds, San Jose State University
Sandy River, Texas Tech University
Sara Schmidt, UIUC
Jen Stevens, Washington State University
Susanna Van Sant, University of Maryland
Helene Williams, Harvard
Margaret Borgeest, Charlotte Droll, Laura Fuderer, and RH also participated.