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On Aesthetics, Zacatecas and Everything In-between: Utilizing Subject Headings from Special Collections Circulation Data to Assess and Inform Emilie Hardman.

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Presentation on theme: "On Aesthetics, Zacatecas and Everything In-between: Utilizing Subject Headings from Special Collections Circulation Data to Assess and Inform Emilie Hardman."— Presentation transcript:

1 On Aesthetics, Zacatecas and Everything In-between: Utilizing Subject Headings from Special Collections Circulation Data to Assess and Inform Emilie Hardman Houghton Library, Harvard University Susan Pyzynski Houghton Library, Harvard University

2 HOUGHTON LIBRARY Houghton Library is Harvard University’s principal special collections library 600,000 books 10 million manuscripts Millions of prints, photographs, ephemera Collection strengths in American, English, and Continental history Reading Room Statistics (FY ) 2,077 individual registered users 6,037 visits Strong Seminar Program (FY ) 229 seminars hosted

3 IMPLEMENTATION OF AEON September 2010 Houghton implemented Atlas System’s archives/special collections circulation system Allowed for collection and analysis of standardized data at a scale and with ease not previously available to us Almost three years worth of data Selected a piece to begin exploring What could the now easily-examined subject headings of our circulated materials tell us about collection usage and the research interests of our patrons? What could we do to respond to what we might learn?

4 PREVIOUS EFFORTS Houghton Library Reading Room during a “bone feast” (holiday party), 1980s. Houghton Bridge may be seen in back right corner.

5 PURSUING POSSIBILITIES Data, not anecdotes! Increased understanding Predictive powers? Illumination of collection strengths Inform practices? Policies? More?

6 COLLECTION SURVEYS Significant collection surveys in special collections Manuscript Survey Project (Bancroft, Berkeley) Mellon Special Collections Materials Survey (Columbia) Unprocessed Collections Survey Project (U. Michigan) MASC Surveys and the Collection Survey of 2013 (Harvard) Offer perspectives on the collections, but not necessarily their usage

7 OUR GOALS An agile, exploratory project Less effort and planning required See where the data take us Utilizing work we have already done Cataloging Data already collected and maintained Focused on use Highlights subject headings as significant and illustrative of patron interests

8 SUBJECT HEADINGS Number of projects through the 1980s in circulating collections Used to weed Used to identify areas for collection development Recent OSLC OhioLINK Collection and Circulation Analysis Provides a broad picture of collections, could perhaps offer insights into subject usage by patrons Critiques of bias and application we must be aware of Headings may have cultural biases Headings may be incompletely applied

9 OUR APPROACH Ran report in Aeon to collect all patron requests from September 2010-December 2012 Cleaned data (missing and incorrectly entered) Left with 21,017 unique bibliographic records Ran against Cognos in increments of 1,000 Exported to Excel and cleaned again Resulted in 46,067 subject headings Developed codebook 35 master categories with definitions, sample LCSH headings and parameters for application Coding all subject headings

10 SOME DISCOVERIES Subject access seems to be significant to circulation Our circulated sample: 14, 447 bibliographic records with subject headings and 6,540 without approximately 70% with headings Our collection broadly: 244,260 records out of 473,086 without subject access approximately 50% Items cataloged within the past 10 years are much more likely to provide subject access Prevalent subjects of circulated materials confirm both anecdotal evidence and offer surprises

11 FUTURE PROSPECTS Many interesting and potentially useful applications Better understand patron needs in various academic areas Better serve our seminar program Better serve remote users Inform collecting policies Inform cataloging and accessioning practices Inform digitization and delivery

12 Concluding Thoughts Still very exploratory, but some key considerations have emerged from the work already. How might we use a project like this to foster a culture of agile assessment? Archives and Special Collections may have a different angle on using subject analysis to develop their collections. Adding subject headings at the point of accession is an opportunity to provide greater access and encourage circulation. Investment of cataloger time and effort in applying robust subject access seems to be a verifiably valuable service.

13 THANK YOU Emilie Hardman Susan Pyzynski


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