Adding Programs to ebooks

Followup on my post on the Programs tracings in the 690s field.

So, having gone clear through all the bulk purchase of 80,000 plus ebooks from one vendor, we’ve now switched to another vendor for 130,000 plus records, and I’ve had to start over from scratch in adding 690 fields for our various Programs.  All the previous ebooks from that vendor have been removed.

Oh, joy.

Still, I’ve got the technique down pretty well in III’s Millennium software.

1.  Create a list of the new ebooks records.  To keep the searching and file size down for faster operations, I limit it to all the call numbers below a certain one — say, all the call numbers under 300.  I also eliminate all the records that already have a 690.  That way, as I progress, I just increase the upper limit and don’t worry about the lower one.

Oh, yes — when more ebooks are added while I’m working on this long project (as they have been already), they will fall into the proper place, and I’ll catch up with them as I proceed.  If they are in the earlier numbers, they’ll show up at the top of the list.

2.  Run the search.  (This is the part where I switch over and catalog books, write posts like this, check Feedly, or do other chores while waiting.)  It takes a little while.

3.  Sort the records by call number.  Fortunately, this latest vendor uses records downloaded from OCLC, so almost all of them have Dewey call numbers, and the few that have oddball 082 suggested Dewey numbers can quickly be located and fixed.

4.  Display the list.

Okay, there’s tens of thousands of them, at the beginning.  But, starting from the top, I only go so far before the titles are obviously differing in subjects significantly.

As I scan down, I take note of any that might make good book reviews or are simply of interest to me, and add a code in the record for my use.

5.  When the subject changes, highlight from there to the end of the list, and remove those records from the file.  Now I have a much shorter list of like subjects.

6.  Go to Global Update and select the much reduced file.  In order to find it quickly in the Global Update, I use a string of identical characters in the list title, such as @@@@@@ so I can spot the file quickly as I slide down them.

7. Insert one or more appropriate 690 PROGRAM fields and update the batch.

7.  Go back to step one, search by the same search I did before, and this time, the search will eliminate all the ones I just updated.  Repeat.  When I finally run out of records in this chunk, I can increase the call number limit by enough to get a good chunk again.

Now, this has obvious limitations.  For one thing, a lot of titles are not all that descriptive, so I have to check the records for those, which takes time.  Fortunately, it isn’t necessary in most cases.

Also, given the nature of catalogers, institutions, and cataloging, a number of titles end up in call numbers which I would not have chosen, either due to the oddities of the cataloging system (whether Dewey or LC), or just because the cataloger had different priorities from us (see how politely I put that?).  After all, someplace without, say, an Education program might not catalog a given book in that call number range (370s) if it dealt with, say, Psychology as well.  It might end up in the 150s rather than the 370s on that campus, while we would put it in the 370s if it looked more useful there.  Do I bother to reclassify it?  Usually no; I just add a 690 for PROGRAMEDUCATION and that takes care of it.  And probably a PROGRAMPSYCHOLOGY as well, since I can have as many relevant 690s on a record as I need.

People are using key words today, not call numbers.  I’ve talked to catalogers from other campuses who don’t even bother with call numbers for ebooks, since call numbers were intended to group like subjects together on shelves, and ebooks don’t need shelves.  Call numbers may not be furnished with some ebooks records (and I have to pull those out and determine the 690s individually).

So in between everything else I do, I slowly whittle down the ebooks list.  If we have a Program with an accreditation coming up soon, I’ll jump to the relevant ebooks and do them ahead of time, so they’ll count properly as being available in our collection.  With this system, they will not be picked up with the rest when I reach their range later since they have 690s already, so it’s not especially disruptive to the entire process.

The one factor that such bulk purchases of ebooks does complicate is the frequent request for spending info.  How much did we spend on Program A last fiscal year?  Aside from a specialized ebook collection (say, Business, which we have), I can’t really do anything for the general “academic collection” of ebooks in that formula without a HUGE investment in trying to assign print prices to ebooks (which wouldn’t be accurate, since that’s not what we really paid), or giving a figure of $0.002 or something (a percentage of the total annual fees) for the cost of a title, which wouldn’t add enough to the expenditure to be worth the effort.  So, ebooks tend to count in numbers but not in money spent, which is not fair, but that’s the situation.

On the other hand, some students cannot/will not use ebooks, so should that factor into the utility of the funds spent?  That’s not covered by accreditation teams, as far as I’ve been told — if you have the title in some format, it counts.  I supposed you could look at it much like having someone who cannot read print but we don’t have the title in an audiobook.  If there is demand (or likely to be), we’ll probably buy a print version also, as the budget permits.  Audiobook versions, on the other hand, are not always available for many academic titles, and you may or may not be able to use an ereader to read the text aloud to you (publisher’s choice!).

This is going to be a months-long process.  I consider it job security.


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