(Previous discussion continued)
RE: Description based on notes Steve 06 Aug 1992 01:38 UTC

RE: Description based on notes Steve 06 Aug 1992 01:38 UTC

I agree that Description Based On notes are helpful to library users.  My
department is a periodicals public service area that assists about 100,000
users each year.  Aproximately half of those people are faculty or graduate
students doing some pretty in-depth research.  Particularly for those people
in literture, history, foreign languages, and with general periodicals (Dewey
051's and LC AP's), the description based on note can be very helpful in
determining what serials to look further for, and often the basic history
of a specific publication can determine whether a researcher should or can
use it for certain purposes.

Our OPAC (formerly LS/2000, now NOTIS) has never been profiled to display
description based on notes to the public.  That has never seemed necessary
to me. It seems to always be enough that staff have access to that information
in the MARC record when the need arises.

We also have a very large newspaper collection here. The description based on
notes are extremely (!) helpful in helping users determine titles that may
be helpful to them. This is particularly true with pre-World War II titles
for which holdings may be scattered.  For staff who work with a collection
for a long period of time, description based on notes can also reveal patterns
to the contents of a collection.  An example of this comes from our
collection of Kentucky newspapers.  After having worked with this collection
for a few years, I've been able to recognize which areas of Kentucky were
hardest hit by the Civil War and which areas had particularly usual
natural disasters, and when.  When nearly every title from a give area, such
as a county, has a description based on note, with practically the same
dates in those notes,  patterns of history become more evident than is
always the case from holdings information.  There are subtle differences
between implications of description based on notes and holdings, especially
when viewed on the level of numerous titles at once, rather than on a
title-by-title basis.

This whole discussion brings up an interesting point.  Based on my experience
at a periodicals public service desk, the provision of full cataloging records
to desk staff via an OPAC created TREMENDOUS changes in the manner of provid-
ing public service.  And all of these changes were improvements!  Even though
it probably is true that for most purposes, serials public service is much
more concerned with holdings records than with bib records, I believe that
serials public service is much more dependent upon bib records than is
monographic-related public service.  But maybe that's just my serials-bias
coming through!

At any rate,  the quality of our public service for periodicals has improved
greatly, in my opinion, because our public service staff now has access to
full and up-to-date bib records on immediate demand.  We at the University of
Kentucky are also very lucky to  have a serials cataloger who has an
excellent understanding of needs of serials users, even though she has
never worked in a public service area (if I remember correctly).  As we begin
to convert our holdings records to the NOTIS 5.1 serials control system in
a couple of months, I am anticipating major changes in how and how well our
public service staff can serve our users - these changes will probably
be as great as when we began having electronic access to bib records.

These are all just ramblings and opinions.  Does anyone else have related
or contrasting ideas?  I'm very interested, if anyone would care to offer
them.

Steve Savage,
Head, Periodicals/Newspapers/Microtexts Dept.
University of Kentucky Libraries
Lexington, KY  40506-0039
Internet:  smsava01@ukcc.uky.edu
Phone: (606) 257-8387