April 27, 2017

Slimming down the database

In 2002, when the NHU-PAC last changed systems (Galaxy to Horizon), there were approximately 1.2 million bibliographic records in the database.  Today there are nearly twice as many: 2.35 million bibliographic records.  7.14 million holdings are attached to those bibliographic records--but not to all of them.  There are more than 320,000 bibliographic records in the NHU-PAC that have no holdings attached.

These "orphaned" records include dozens of manuals on how to use WordStar (a popular word processing program in the 1980s), operas on audiocassettes and LP's, feature films on VHS and Beta videocassettes, and oodles of books for which there is no longer enough demand--or enough shelf space--to remain in the collections of New Hampshire libraries.

For as long as I've been here (19 years) the policy has been to retain bibliographic records in the NHU-PAC even when no libraries hold the titles represented anymore.  The thinking was that a library doing cataloging might need one of those records someday--perhaps because an older book was donated to the collection or because a library was working on retrospective conversion ("recon") of its catalog.  We'd already paid for the records and added them to the NHU-PAC so why not leave them there just in case?

Interlibrary loan librarians can answer that: because those records without holdings clutter up search results and give false hope that certain titles can be found within New Hampshire.  There are other arguments in favor of deleting the orphaned records.  I get a daily report from OCLC about updated records and I've noticed in recent months that I'm spending quite a bit of time improving older records that no longer have any NHU-PAC holdings.  And, if things go as expected, in the next two years we'll be migrating the NHU-PAC to a new system.  Having a smaller database should save money and effort when that transition happens.

All of which leads to this: in the next few months NHAIS Services will be removing from the NHU-PAC those bibliographic records that have been in the database at least 5 years and have no holdings.  The plan is to do this procedure annually.

But what if your library wants to add Mastering WordStar on the IBM PC to its collection after we've removed the record from the NHU-PAC?  Just send NHAIS Services the information as you normally would--either in a file of MARC records sent as an e-mail attachment or via the online NHU-PAC MARC Record Request Form--and we'll add the record, with your holding, back to the NHU-PAC.

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