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Re: Theosophical library software

May 23, 1995 06:09 AM
by Olcott Library

> Murray,
> ...  I would remind you that the vast majority of the "costs"
> associated with establishing a database are the hours and hours
> of data input someone will have to do.  A common mistake is to
> spend thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, on an inexpensive
> database from which you can't get the data back out when it is
> time to move to something else.
> If there is no plans to share the data with other libraries then
> you can create your own with any of serveral database software
> packages off the shelf...and that's probably the only way you
> could do it for under $1,000.
> Lewis

Yes, Lewis -- you are absolutely correct about this.

Also, the data keyed in with those little homegrown systems are
usually frought with errors and misconceptions about "how to
catalog" so that the identity of any book may not be obvious from
the description in the record.  In the end it is necessary to go
back to the book itself to determine the "right" (i.e.
appropriate) record for that book, when you search for it in a
national or international database.  I know, because that's what
we are going through here at the Olcott Library.

So far, our "hit rate" of finding records for our books in the
OCLC database is above 95% (but we aren't finished yet by far!)
The labor we are putting into this project consists of taking
books off the shelf, searching for the matching OCLC record, and
keying the OCLC record number into a special program which will
be used by OCLC to batch-extract the records identified by us.
The records we receive contain our own call number, barcode, and
shelf location information (which of course we need to enter in
along with the record number at the beginning-- most of it is
"wanded in" with a pre-programmed barcode reader).  The project
will probably take about two years, but when we are done, our
records will be compatible with those of other libraries and
information can be shared easily, and loaded into almost any
library program available on the market.  The library program
determines how the records are searched and displayed.

Elisabeth Trumpler

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