Forrest Blech 277-8390
Carolyn Gonzales 277-5920

October 24, 2001

Old titles now accessible electronically

The UNM General Library recently completed a project to make older Zimmerman Library periodicals available electronically, moving them from the old Dewey decimal system of classification into Library of Congress (LC) and pulling some from the collection.

"The project took two years and nine months to complete," says Library Information Specialist Forrest Blech, who was responsible for the project. Along the way Blech worked with selectors to withdraw some titles.

Blech says the urgency to "retrocon," or retrospectively convert, is that the titles were inaccessible electronically. Ultimately, he says, "the public card catalog will disappear, maybe sooner than later. It wasn't the fact that those periodical titles were classified in the abandoned Dewey classification scheme, but their absence in LIBROS that matters," he says.

The catalog won't disappear until all information held in it is accessible electronically, stresses Sever Bordeianu, head of Electronic Resources and Serials Cataloguing.

Blech says he targeted that particular set of materials with a "ZPER," or Zimmerman periodical location code located in the library's lower level one. Blech addressed the project by taking a patron's perspective. The complex task of finding scholarly material can be simplified.

Undertaking the project provided the opportunity to weed selectively from the ZPER collection. "A set of guidelines to govern what I sent off to selectors to review for possible withdrawal was in place at the outset. There had to be a balance between 'If it's there catalog it,' and 'Have the selectors look at absolutely everything.' A useful balance was achieved, in my opinion," he says.

A portion of the collection was withdrawn, resulting in a couple years' growth space in the basement. A benefit of this project was to provide some additional shelving space in the lower level, Blech says.

Blech says that he discovered materials "down there," in the Zimmerman basement level that selectors deemed appropriate to transfer to the security of the Center for Southwest Research. "I located some 19th century gems that definitely needed more protection," he adds.

Another aspect of the project was to have the thousands of volumes remarked with their new call numbers. A continuing project involves retroconning the remaining Dewey annuals and serials in the Zimmerman stacks.

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