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Web Cataloging Assistant

Web Cataloging Assistant (the "webcat assistant") is an outgrowth of BEATís Web Access to Publications in Series project and evolved from the experiences the team gained in providing access at the individual monograph level for selected series. BEAT has now started to use a more automated approach to this work, and that approach is reflected in the development use of the Web Cataloging Assistant, a program developed by team member David Williamson.

The project to provide web access to publications in series has been underway for several years and the emphasis has been on social science monographic series of the "working paper/discussion paper" type, many of which are now available in electronic form. In that project team members first determined which of these series represented in LCís catalogs were available in digital form and then added the URLs to the LC serial records for these series. By linking to the electronic versions, LC provides more timely, comprehensive, and cost effective access. As a logical sequel, electronic serial records for high research value monographic series that were not represented in LC's catalogs were then identified and records created for them.

The next step was to provide access at the individual monograph level for selected series which were of special interest to the Congressional Research Service. This was initially performed by catalogers regularly monitoring the web sites for these series and - with the assistance of a template - creating bibliographic records for new titles as soon as they appeared. This method proved quite effective but was still rather labor intensive.

It has now been proved possible to significantly automate much of that process and as a result the operation now allows a cataloger to examine the abstract page for a particular monograph on the Web, and by using the Web Cataloging Assitant computer and programmed functions to effect the creation of a MARC record that is automatically added to the LC database. This record includes an abstract of the title represented. A cataloger subsequently enhances that cataloging data to ensure that name headings are established and adds subject headings. The capability greatly reduces manual aspects of the project and allows catalogers to concentrate on the intellectual work, thus providing an enriched record through largely automated means.

Though the present Web Cataloging Assistant program works only for those series that have web pages in HTML form, with predictable and consistent layout of the bibliographic data. An estimated 50% of the series meet these criteria. The process allows a cataloger to look at the abstract page for a particular monograph, copy the URL for that into the Web Cataloging Assistant program which then retrieves the web page itself, extracts data from that page relating to the title, author(s), and series numbering, and adds some boilerplate information. The program then creates a MARC record that is sent into the Voyager cataloging client. The bulk of the finished record comes from the automated application, though catalogers do perform subject analysis and can make added entries and notes.

The Web Cataloging Assistant has now been in operation for a little over one year. It is currently being used to catalog monographs from 32 different series. From the 112 items cataloged in its first production month (June 2004) it has now accounted for (as of August 1, 2005) 3317 electronic monographs cataloged.

Another highlight of the program's operation is the programmatic E-mail alert sent to catalogers when there are changes in the series web sites, indicating the appearance of new papers that need to be cataloged, thus eliminating the time-consuming task of periodically monitoring these web sites for new titles. Some examples of the types of series that are being cataloged with the "Web cat assistant" is being applied are the Federal Reserveís Finance and economics discussion series (LCCN 2002201285) and the World Bankís Policy research working papers (LCCN 93664394). Online, the catalog record displays a note indicating that the record links to full text or abstract information, such as Link(s): Access abstracts and full-text copies at the World Bank's web site as in the case of the World Bank publication noted above. publication cited above.

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This page updated on August 3, 2005


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