retrospective catalogue conversion programme


A national retrospective catalogue conversion programme for UK higher education libraries: a study of its justification and implications

Researchers: Philip Bryant (BL Senior Research Fellow), Russell Sweeney (Library Consultant), Ann Chapman (UKOLN). Technical Support: Steve Prowse (UKOLN)

UKOLN provided some support to Philip Bryant who carried out this study on behalf of the Joint Information Systems Committee of the Higher Education Funding Councils and reported in 1995.

The aim of this study was to establish whether a national retrospective catalogue conversion programme in the academic sector is justified and to explore the implications of much wider access both to records and to actual collections so converted. The two main parts of the study were:

Part A used a questionnaire survey to obtain objective data. The questionnaire was sent to the libraries of all UK universities (including the colleges of Cambridge, London and Oxford universities) and of colleges of higher education. There was an excellent response rate of 88%. Data collection focussed on (i) how much retrospective conversion of collections, especially research collections, has already been undertaken, (ii) what remains to done, and (iii) identification of costs, and of sources of funding that might be drawn upon.

Part B used two approaches. Firstly, a literature survey was used to identify and summarise the principal arguments for and against comprehensive programmes of retrospective conversion and to provide additional data relevant to the questionnaire survey. Secondly, a series of semi-structured interviews were held with (a) a representative sample of HE libraries, (b) a sample of scholars, (c) the British Library, (d) CURL, and (e) cooperatives and relevant commercial agencies.

The abstract is available of an article, Retrospective catalogue conversion: a national study and a discussion of selected literature about the study, published in Libri Vol.46(1) March 1996 pp16-24.

Retrospective catalogue conversion for libraries in the UK other than those funded by the Higher Education Funding Councils

Researchers: Philip Bryant (BL Senior Research Fellow), with assistance from Ann Chapman (UKOLN).
Technical Support: Steve Prowse (UKOLN), Sally Jones and Danah Dajani (University of Bath)

The first study concerned itself entirely with academic libraries and their resources but recognised that researchers also have to use other libraries. The public libraries of the UK have unrivalled research material in many special collections and a wide range of libraries connected with learned societies, professional organisations, religious bodies and other voluntary institutions. Few of these collections, however, have catalogue records in machine readable form which are accessible over the Internet.

This study therefore focused on these non HEFC funded libraries and the size and nature of the problem of retrospective conversion of catalogues in the sector. It was funded by the British Library Research and Innovation Centre and completed in 1997.

As with the academic sector study, a questionnaire survey was used to obtain objective data. Questionniares were sent out to all public libraries together with libraries of cathedrals and selected government and special libraries. The response rate was 53% overall (61% from public libraries). The questionnaire was designed in five sections: (a) background data, (b) data on machine readable records already available, (c) retrospective conversion programmes in progress, (d) planned retrospective conversion programmes and (e) public access to catalogue records.

The joint report covering both studies was published in 1997.
Bryant, Philip Making the most of our libraries: the report of two studies on the retrospective conversion of library catalogues in the United Kingdom and the need for a national strategy.
British Library Research and Innovation Report no. 53
British Library Research and Innovation Centre, 1997

[Bibliographic Management]

Content by: Ann Chapman of UKOLN.
Page last revised on: 03-Jun-2005
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