The British National Bibliography Machine Readable Cataloguing (BNBMARC) Currency Survey, carried out on the British Library database and using a sample obtained from a variety of public and academic libraries, is now entering its fifteenth year. The results of the survey provide a performance assessment indicator known as the hit rate. The variations in hit rate over the years are noted and possible causes are reviewed. The impact of a number of British Library initiatives (e.g., Currency with Coverage, Cataloguing-in-Publication record purchase, Copyright Libraries Shared Cataloguing Programme) intended to improve the performance of the service are examined. Overall, the results of the survey indicate that the British Library has achieved a fairly high level of performance over the past few years; the sustainability of this level is difficult to predict. Finally, the possible influence of external factors on the performance level in the future is considered.
Since 1993 Blackwell North America, Inc. (BNA) and B. H. Blackwell Ltd. (BHB)
have provided J. Hugh Jackson Library staff at Stanford University with Library
of Congress (LC) catalog records for monographs acquired
from those vendors. Both jobbers also supplied various levels of physical processing for all books and serials purchased from them. This article describes the quality of the cataloging and physical processing services received during a one-year pilot project at the beginning of the outsourcing program. During that period, BNA and BHB supplied cataloging for 86% and 57% of monograph purchases, respectively. Library staff accepted 69% of BNA's and 61% of BHB's records without making any corrections; edited 25% of BNA's and 38% of BHB's Cataloging-in-Publication (CIP) records (requested by library managers as part of this study); corrected 4% of BNA's and none of BHB's records containing errors made by LC staff; and edited 2% of BNA's and 1% of BHB's records that had errors attributed to the vendors. During the final stage of the one-year study, BNA and BHB each achieved an error rate of less than 1% in their cataloging and physical processing work. BNA and BHB maintained nearly a zero error rate in the quality of their outsourcing services in the ten-month period immediately following the pilot project.
Fiction titles reviewed in mid-May 1992 and mid-January 1993 issues of Library Journal, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly, the most used public library selection journals, were searched in the online version of Information Access' Magazine Index Plus to determine which had been reviewed in each source and what evaluations had been given. While most reviews were positive, there were a substantial number of mixed and a small number of negative reviews; 95% of the 253 titles had received at least one favorable review and 33% had received at least one mixed or negative review. Of the 208 titles reviewed in more than one source, 98.5% received at least one favorable review and 34.5% received some mixed or negative reviews. Only three titles (1.5%) did not receive any positive reviews, while 65.5% received all positive reviews and 33% received a combination of both positive and mixed or negative reviews. Clearly there was often disagreement among reviewers. The large number of mixed reviews and instances of disagreement among reviewers could be seen as evidence of differences in personal tastes and backgrounds of library reviewers and of their attempts to note objectively the merits of works to which they personally did not respond. Future studies should investigate the actual impact of a mixed or negative review in specific sources on specific selection decisions.
The condition of books held by Ohio libraries was examined. The study was based on a sample of 1,935 books published between 1851 and 1939. The 1,935 books represented 872 distinct titles that were held by 96 Ohio libraries. Evaluation and characteristics of the physical condition of each book in the sample showed that 11.6% of the volumes were missing; 1.8% were damaged; 1.3% were severely deteriorated and could not be used; 13.6% were at risk and could not be used without immediate preservation efforts; 49.4% were in poor condition due to high acidity, brittleness, or needed structural repair; and 22.3% were in good condition. We also examined the condition of titles to determine whether there was at least one usable copy of the title. Within Ohio, 4.8% of the titles were missing, 0.5% were damaged, 0.7% were severely deteriorated, 6.8% were at risk because of physical condition, and 87.3% were in usable condition. It was estimated that there were approximately 50,000 titles statewide from this period that were unusable, most of which were lost or missing. Fewer than 5,000 titles were rendered unusable due to damage, and an additional 6,000 were rendered unusable due to extreme deterioration.