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

Agenda Item 2: Updates from MLAIB Vendors

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

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