As the interim Curator of Literature and Rare Books I am writing the Environmental Scan for the French Pamphlet Project. Two tools I have found very useful to help with this are MARCedit and Microsoft Excel (I sort of love spreadsheets). I became familiar with MARCedit over the summer as I attempted to gain intellectual control over my expanded collection responsibilities and learned a new (to me) feature of Microsoft Excel which has proved very useful for putting together this report. So I wanted to tell you a little about what I’ve learned.
After I was appointed interim Curator for Literature and Rare Books in May, I requested a report from Technical Services of all cataloged items in Rare Books and Special Collections. I already had a comfortable grasp of the literary manuscript collections but had not had an opportunity to really get to know the Rare Books and Special Collections volumes. In an effort to become better acquainted with these collections, I asked Technical Services to include several descriptive MARC fields (language and subject entries) for each item in Rare Books and Special Collections.
Rare Books and Special Collections Stacks
Rare Books and Special Collections Oversize Stacks
I was hoping that the final report would provide me a broad overview of the collection as well as the ability to examine the collection at a more granular level without having to go and browse the stacks. While I do love browsing the Rare Books stacks this just seemed a very inefficient way to get to know the collections. Additionally, Rare Books are fragile (sorry to state the obvious) and I don’t want to be pulling them of the shelves, flipping through them, and the re-shelving them to gather information about them that should be discernible from their catalog records.
Rare Books Shelf
Technical Services ran a standard report version of my request and offered me a MARC file with all Rare Book and Special Collections items complete MARC records if I wanted to create my own report using MARCedit. I accepted the challenge and a short guide to MARCedit.
After downloading and installing MARCedit, the first step to using MARCedit requires running the entire MARCfile through MARCbreaker to create a UTF-8 MARC file. By converting the file to a UTF-8 file the succeeding programs that this information is run through will recognize the special characters and diacritics. MARCbreaker will clean up and search for errors in MARC records while providing preliminary data about the entire file. This data let me know how many times each MARC field was used which helped me in figuring out what MARC fields I wanted MARCedit to provide in my report.
I then ran my new MARC UTF-8 file through MARCedit and checked the result of my report in Microsoft Excel. My report was a mess! Many of the records were missing information in the MARCfields I had requested and most of the records in foreign languages using special characters and diacritics came through garbled. The problems were not MARCedit or Excel’s they were mine. I realized that I was going to need to dig a little deeper into MARC fields and get crafty about how I imported my data into Excel.
I had a basic understanding of the MARC fields from one of my introductory iSchool courses but found it necessary to rely heavily on the Library of Congress’s MARC21 Bibliographic Data website to make sure that I was getting the MARC fields I truly wanted.* I had to run the report several times before I was able to figure out all of the MARC fields I wanted and how to request them from MARCedit.
Entering the fields I wanted into MARCedit was the hardest part. I could only select a single MARC field or field and subfield at a time when I knew I wanted about 20 fields in my report. So it was time consuming to select each one individually and see whether or not UMD Libraries was using that field the way I expected them to or not. The fields I finally ended up with in my report are:
008$35 – Language Code (letter 1)
008$36 – Language Code (letter 2)
008$37 – Language Code (letter 3)
* Did you know that for MARC’s three-letter-language-code each letter is entered individually into three separate subfields? Also, I had to enter each subfield individually so that each letter gets its own column in the spreadsheet!!! Why catalogers? Why?
035 – OCLC #
050 – LOC Call Number
090 – Local Call Number
100 – Main Entry (Personal Name)
110 – Main Entry (Corporate Name)
240 – Uniform Title
245 – Title Statement
246 – Title Variation
260 – Publication
300 – Physical Description
362 – Dates of Publication
500 – General Note
510 – Citation & References
600 – Subject Entry – Personal Name
610 – Subject Entry – Corporate Name
611 – Subject Entry – Meeting Name
630 – Subject Entry – Uniform Title
648 – Subject Entry – Chronological Term
650 – Subject Entry – Topical Term
651 – Subject Entry – Geographic Name
653 – Index Term – Uncontrolled
655 – Index Term – Genre/Form
700 – Added Entry – Personal Name
740 – Added Entry – Uncontrolled Related Title
752 – Added Entry – Hierarchal Place Name
800 – Series Added Entry – Personal Name
830 – Series Added Entry – Uniform Title
852 – Location (Local)
856 – Electronic Location & Access
Having finally established all the MARC fields I needed. I returned to MARCedit to begin the process of exporting my final file. Under the “Tools” Menu I choose “Export Tab Delimited File” and set up a path to my new file, including the file name and .txt file type.
Exporting from MARCedit Step 1
Next I entered each of the individual MARC fields I wanted for my report.
Exporting from MARCedit Step 2
Once they were all entered I choose to export the file. I opened the text file just to check and make sure that it looked correct.
Exporting from MARCedit Step 3
However I did not really want to keep my data as a .txt file. I wanted to be able to analyze the data and manipulate it in a table format. So I needed to import my .txt file into Microsoft Excel.
To be continued in Part 2… Revealing La Revolution: The Environmental Scan & Microsoft Excel, Part 2
*While I was working on this the government (including all Library of Congress webpages) was shut down. I had to use the Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine to retrieve the information I needed.