Scandinavian Discussion Group Minutes – 2005 Midwinter

ALA Midwinter Meeting, Boston

Sunday, January 16, 2005
2:00 – 3:30pm
Hilton Boston Back Bay, West Minster Room


  • Gordon Anderson, University of Minnesota


I. Welcome and Introductions

  • Gordon Anderson called the meeting to order at 2:03 PM.

II. Featured Topic

  • Minna Popkin of the Harvard College Library Germanic Division gave a presentation on “Bringing Scandinavian National-Bibliography Records to Our Catalogs: The Case of Fennica.” She distributed a very useful handout to the group.
  • Minna discussed the use of a macro and the Finnish National Bibliography (Fennica) to add records to the Harvard catalog. This is an example of the advantages technology brings to workflow. Harvard collects quite a bit of material from the Scandinavian countries, and vendor systems are often not available. Beautiful MARC records are available from the national libraries of those countries. How can we bring these records into our own systems? With Z39.50, One can use a direct connection, but this is not an available option for these sources yet. In the meantime, what options are available to get this data? One way is to use public access interfaces like Fennica. Minna has developed macros within the Aleph system, which
  • The bibliographer selects titles using the Fennica online interface and e-mails them to Minna. They are automatically filtered into a special mailbox. In the case of Libris, the Swedish national catalog, the bibliographer sends paper orders to acquisitions staff. They search the record again in Libris and run a macro that creates provisional bibliographic records from the MARC display. Fennica records are slightly different than Libris records. Minna has created a macro to process the text in the e-mails she has received from the bibliographer. E-mailing can corrupt the characters, and field labels need to be translated into MARC tags. The process is less than perfect, but it is good enough given the benefits of selecting and e-mailing from a Fennica search. Libris records come over perfectly using a macro. For processing, the only software needed is a web browser for searching and e-mailing, an e-mail client that allows selecting all the text and copying it to the clipboard, and Macro Express software to write and run macros. Importation enhances access points for searching. Harvard uses, to facilitate this work.
  • Question & Answer.
    • Question whether the macro converts corrupt diacritics, which it does. In Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian and Danish, only a handful of characters are not in the English alphabet.
      • The macro translates these corrupted characters into Unicode. The accuracy of this macro functionality was carefully checked during the development and testing of the macro.
    • Question regarding how macros are written.
      • Minna responded that Aleph does not have macro software built in, so she uses Macro Express, the most popular macro software for use with Aleph. Cataloging, however, still has to do subject analysis and authority work on the records. The bibliographer searches other Scandinavian OPACs, and must submit a paper orders for titles from these.
      • Minna needs to use a separate macro for each bibliographic source; the basic concepts are down, though, especially when working from the MARC view. When selection can be integrated into the process, ordering is much faster. This option is not available with Libris records, which cannot be e-mailed. For the purposes of selection, the bibliographer only looks at the most recent entries in a database. Beautiful MARC records are also available in Danish and Norwegian utilities. Minna will tackle Icelandic eventually. A member of the group mentioned that bibliographic records from the Faroe Islands presently might contain MARC-coding problems.
    • Question regarding rights to these bibliographic records.
      • Records in Fennica are not copyright protected. In any case, Finnish cataloging rules are not the same; they use a variation of the MARC format. The biggest difference has to do with subject headings. Minna is simply automating with a macro what she would type in otherwise. Once the records had been enhanced and made compliant with AACR2 for the Harvard catalog, they are protected by copyright. Once Z39.50 is available, the Finnish National Library will charge. Minna emphasized that the process described above was really a part of selection and ordering rather than cataloging workflow.

III. Announcements

  • Sem Sutter gave a report on his trip to the Gothenburg Book Fair, which was partially funded by a Nedbook Northwest Europe Award. The award allows the recipient 1,000 Euros to apply any way he likes. Sem visited the 20th annual fair, with more than 108,000 visitors. Attendance was pan-Scandinavian. 35% were trade visitors such as educators and librarians. More than 90% of visitors purchase books and other merchandise – this is a reader’s book fair. The United Kingdom was the guest nation. English titles are very popular with Swedish readers. Sem was especially interested in the publications of Swedish small publishers, non-profits and government. There were huge crowds on the days the fair was open to the public. He heartily recommends this fair for its human scale. Unlike attending the Frankfurt Book Fair, in Gothenburg Sem had time to see all he wanted to. (Gordon mentioned that Nedbook is taking stock of the award and assessing its future.)
  • Gordon announced a conference November 5-6, 2005, at the University of Minnesota, on Swedish-American writing. American and Scandinavian libraries are working on a bibliography of holdings of Swedish imprints in North America. Conference information is on the National Library’s web site. An inventory of major U.S. collections is completed. In the next phase, itinerant bibliographers will visit small libraries and private collections.
  • Minnesota acquired Genline, a Swedish church records database fed mainly by Mormon records. It offers page images and is also searchable. It covers 60% of Swedish church records, and other records are available like house inventories and moving permits. Genline is not expensive – about $700.00 a year for one user. It is login and password accessible only. Minnesota is thinking of purchasing Heritagequest, which contains census records through 1930 (though indexing not up to date). It has received a lot of use at the University of Chicago.
  • The Scandinavian Discussion Group will meet at ALA Annual in Chicago in June 2005. Gordon asked for topic suggestions. Sem mentioned the Swedish-American Museum in Chicago.

Minutes submitted by Thea Lindquist.