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.


Updating the Programs page

[updated 2013.7.31]

This is not about “programming” (either computer or events) but the “programs” we have for degrees, and I’m using the term loosely.


Shortly after I arrived at the University, I was asked to list all the mathematics materials for an accreditation team study.  Simple enough, right?

Not really.  For one thing, a bibliographic record about a mathematical subject such as “algebra” may not have the word “mathematics” anywhere in it.  That meant that I had to think of every possible variation on that subject and hunt them down in order to make up the list: algebra, calculus, trignometry, arithmetic….  and that obviously wasn’t going to be the last time I had this kind of request for this and other subject areas.

And some records fit in multiple places, which was part of the problem, since I needed to be able to pull up something regardless of other connections, or where it was in the regular call number classification (for those who wondered why I didn’t just use call number ranges).  Example: some psychology books are also in literature, some mythology books are in literature and anthropology, materials can be about politics and history, and so on … the call number may be one place but the materials are not so limited.

I needed a way to tie all the possible bibliographic records together for a given subject under some kind of searchable heading, and be able to assign multiple headings for any bibliographic record.

I started out with the organization of what was then Westark Community College and grouped everything by Department and Division.   That meant I could search Division: Humanities and even Dept.: Art and get what was needed.  It had to do it very exactly and rigidly, but it worked with what I had at the time.

And the Fates smiled, and whispered, Oh no you don’t.

We entered a period of successive reorganizations that carried all the way up to the name of the institution, and continues to the present day.

Every time things got revised, I had to redo the entire list to try to conform to the new arrangements.  Divisions and Departments evolved into Programs, and then I had to make exceptions since some subjects had specific classes but did not lead, in themselves, to a degree.

I had to split subjects down (nursing had to be split into certain specialties such as Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) and Technical Certificate Nursing (LPN for Licenced Practical Nursing — right, the letters don’t even match up but I’m asked for LPN more than TCN)).

English was split into Literature and writing, which became Rhetoric (which actually covers writing and speech, but Speech was yet another program).  Then Literature grew so large that I needed to split it down into a general category, English literature (oops, confusing, better make that British literature, but not including Welsh, Irish or Scottish), American lit, and everything else in World lit.

I arranged with our first automation vendor to use the 690 field in the bibliographic record for this purpose specifically, and to be able to index and search it alone for the exact phrases (example: PROGRAM: AUTO (TECHNOLOGY) for the Automotive programs in the Technology Division).

When we changed vendors to Innovative Interfaces, we moved the 690s over into the new catalog as well, and indexed them both in a special index (coded letter ‘e’) as well as the regular subjects index (coded letter ‘d’).

Finally, once we got web pages, I created a Programs page with live links that ran my pre-set searches in the 690s fields in the catalog.  Immediate, up-to-date listings of everything in a program area.  Perfect.

Until I realized that any search over 1,000 records stopped there, and some of our Programs had several thousand records.

And the next reorganization.

Current coding

By now, nobody was asking for materials grouped by divisions or colleges or whatever.  They just wanted specific programs/subjects.  So, I could eliminate the larger groupings except on the page itself (just in case I or anyone else needed a reference point for them).

At this time (December of ought-eight) the catalog and the web site disagree – the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is on the web site but not in the catalog (which went to press months ago for spring 2008 publication).  I had to be sure to resolve things like that.

I found that keeping words separate in the 690s meant that they were treated as regular words, so “history” might turn up every form of history and “art history” in the same search.  I needed to find a way to keep the headings unique so they would only be searchable if the user meant to search just for that.  Since I had the Programs page now in the more visible yellow Quick Links menu in the catalog, I felt that most people — including staff — would tend to just go to the Programs page and click on the pre-set search links there rather than try to remember how to construct a Programs search anyway.

Now, I needed to create a keywords search (since those don’t have the 1,000 record limit) since those would also give a result that users could limit using the Modify Search function to just, say, ebooks or DVDs, or by date range to the materials in the last 5 years, or whatever was needed.

That meant I needed unique words that would not turn up in a routine keywords search.  Readability would be sacrified to some extent.

I combined all the PROGRAM words with the following term.  PROGRAM: AUTO (TECHNOLOGY) became just PROGRAMAUTO, which the computer treats as a unique word of 11 characters.  That’s not something that is normally going to be searched and turn up by accident.  It’s harder to read and predict, but I had everything listed on the Programs page and by the more readable phrases.

Naturally, it still isn’t perfect.  I have compromises such as Art, which gets:

Well, I didn’t want to have to type PROGRAMARTARCHITECTURALANDDECOR all the time, so it’s abbreviated, as are some of the others.

The same thing happens for our programs for teachers:

and so on.  The ED after PROGRAM stands for EDucation, followed by a specific type of teaching such as teaching Chemistry.

Literature is a general heading but also a regionally specific one, as mentioned above, and gets abbreviated:

History was the same, but I stayed with US instead of American, since that same distinction is made in LC subject headings: PROGRAMHISTUS (from Program HISTory United States).

We don’t have a Geology program specifically, but we do have classes in Geology and a course code for them, so I have a listing for that.

I cheated a little on a few items.  For example, I didn’t want a PROGRAMCRIME in any form (we don’t need any jokes about that!), so I used the second words: Justice, Investigation, and so on.  This was also more exact as we expanded the courses.

In a few cases, we needed to divide out specifics: specific diseases and conditions for HEalth (PROGRAMHESPECIFIC), and specific businesses and industries for BUsiness (PROGRAMBUSPECIFIC).  Also, HEalth has materials which are not really for professionals, so those became PROGRAMHEPOPULAR.

We have some odd items, such as the career/employment/testing/scholarships stuff, which go into PROGRAMCAREER.

The two ROTC programs are Air Force PROGRAMAIRFORCE (which also gets anything on flight and flying) and Army, and since some general military works tend show up, Army became PROGRAMMILITARY instead and handles the Army plus catch-all.

Everything that covers multiple disciplines across colleges (general search engines, for example) is interdisciplinary and PROGRAMINTER (well, you type “Interdisciplinary” umpteen times and see how many times you need to retype it…).

Anything left is PROGRAMOTHERS, which covers nonfiction not specifically related to our programs.

GRANTS is not a program, so the prefix is omitted but the 690 tracing is present to group those.

Fiction, juvenile fiction and juvenile nonfiction are not given 690s at this time.  We have the juvenile material for teachers in training to read, but I didn’t want to mix that with the adult nonfiction for their area.

Next, I need to redo the staff wiki a bit to cover the revisions in doing Create Lists.

Now, if nobody reorganizes anything before January 2009, I should be set.

And the Fates smiled….

[update 2013.7.31]

I’ll add an example: Learning disabilities and mental health : a nursing perspective

Now, does that go in the Special Education classification, the Psychology classification, or the Nursing area?  No matter where I put it, 2 out of 3 faculty members will be unhappy.

But the PROGRAMs method lets me add 690s for all of those areas to the same record.  And, I can count it on 3 different lists for accreditation teams, for the same amount of money spent, so the Administration is happy too.