Abstracts Vol. 50, No. 2


From the Ubiquitous to the Nonexistent:
A Demographic Study of OCLC WorldCat

Jay H. Bernstein

Analysis of a random sample of bibliographic records from OCLC WorldCat finds that the great majority of items in WorldCat are held by very few participating libraries, and that an inverse geometric relationship exists between the number of libraries holding an item and the number of items with a given level of shared holdings. The findings provide a context for interpreting holding levels in WorldCat with regard to the proportion of widely shared items and the characteristics of items at various ranges of holdings. Used with other quantitative and evaluative measures, these findings will assist libraries in assessing their collections.

Perpetual Access to Electronic Journals:
A Survey of One Academic Research Library’s Licenses

Jim Stemper and Susan Barribeau

A perpetual access right to an electronic journal, defined as the right to permanently access licensed materials paid for during the period of a license agreement (not to be confused with the right to copy journal content solely for preservation purposes), is a concern of increasing importance to librarians as academic libraries discontinue paper subscriptions and retain electronic-only access. This paper explores the current environment for perpetual access to electronic journals. The authors report on analysis of the contracts between a large, research-level university library and 40 publishers of electronic journals, as well as ten large electronic journal aggregators. The authors seek to determine the frequency of contractual provisions for permanent access rights for the years of active subscription in the event an electronic journal contract is terminated for any cause other than breach by the licensee. Costs and formats of any granted perpetual access are considered. The paper concludes with an exploration of the potential impact of the perpetual access clauses libraries are accepting in licenses, the possible lack of continuing access, and options for addressing the situation.

Library of Congress Classification Numbers:
Issues of Consistency and Their Implications for Union Catalogs

Bhagirathi Subrahmanyam

This study examined Library of Congress Classification (LCC)–based class numbers assigned to a representative sample of 200 titles in 52 American library systems to determine the level of consistency within and across those systems. The results showed that under the condition that a library system has a title, the probability of that title having the same LCC-based class number across library systems is greater than 85 percent. An examination of 121 titles displaying variations in class numbers among library systems showed certain titles (for example, multi-foci titles, titles in series, bibliographies, and fiction) lend themselves to alternate class numbers. Others were assigned variant numbers either due to latitude in the schedules or for reasons that cannot be pinpointed. With increasing dependence on copy cataloging, the size of such variations may continue to decrease. As the preferred class number with its alternates represents a title more fully than just the preferred class number, this paper argues for continued use of alternates by library systems and for finding a method to link alternate class numbers to preferred class numbers for enriched subject access through local and union catalogs.

Utilizing Z39.50 to Obtain Bibliographic Copy:
A Cost-containment Study

Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Cecilia Genereux, and Stephen Hearn

This paper looks at one approach to controlling costs when seeking cataloging copy. A small task group in the University of Minnesota Libraries Technical Services Department conducted a study to devise the most cost-effective strategy for searching for and importing bibliographic copy, by compiling costs and benefits of importing records from the OCLC Online Computer Library Center database, the Research Libraries Group Union Catalog (RLIN), and the Library of Congress (LC) catalog. Results of the study indicated that, although the LC database is smaller than the other two utilities, a sufficient portion of needed records were available from LC to more than offset the cost of re-searching in the other databases for records not found. In addition, due to differences in pricing structure, searching RLIN second was found to be more cost effective than going next to OCLC, even though a slightly larger proportion of items were found in OCLC than RLIN. This study may prove useful either as a research method or in terms of its findings for other libraries wishing to compare sources of cataloging copy.

If You Buy It, Will They Use It?
A Case Study on the Use of Classification Web

Anna M. Ferris

This paper presents a study conducted at the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU-Boulder) to assess the extent to which its catalogers were using Classification Web (Class Web), the subscription-based, online cataloging documentation resource provided by the Library of Congress. In addition, this paper will explore assumptions made by management regarding CU-Boulder catalogers’ use of the product, possible reasons for the lower-than-expected use, and recommendations for promoting a more efficient and cost-effective use of Class Web at other institutions similar to CU-Boulder.