Uncovering hidden resources: extending the coverage of online catalogues

Added by Sarah on 12 January 2007

This report assesses the progress made over the past five years in extending the coverage of online catalogues, and indicates priorities for future work.

Researchers now expect to have online access to library catalogues. Where collections themselves are not available online, remote access to catalogues enables researchers to prepare for visits to libraries. However the research collections held in many libraries are not catalogued at all, or are not covered by online catalogues. Researchers are increasingly likely to overlook such resources, whatever their potential value.

The report shows that librarians have devoted considerable efforts to tackling the backlog of un-catalogued material in their collections and estimates that, while only 31% of research collections were covered by online catalogues five years ago, this figure has now risen to 50%. It highlights the need to both to sustain the momentum of recent years in extending the scope of online catalogues, and also to promote examples of good practice and guidelines on issues such as prioritisation, consultation and communication, cataloguing standards, and evaluating impact and benefits.

The findings also underscore the UK-wide benefits of providing ready access to detailed information about the widely-distributed national collection of research materials and calls for a national strategy and programme, using new methods to add to the coverage of online catalogues and to enable currently separate aggregations of bibliographic data to be exploited by both librarians and researchers.

Full and accurate online catalogues are an essential underpinning for the cooperative efforts being made between libraries to enhance the quality of the services they provide to researchers across the UK. The report has shown the need to develop a coordinated programme to extend the range and scope of readily-available information about the holdings of libraries, the RIN will work with key stakeholders to take this agenda forward.

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