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MeSH authority control survey findings (Dan Kniesner) Birdie MacLennan 12 Jun 2002 20:20 UTC

Date: Wed, 12 Jun 2002 14:11:03 -0400
From: "Dan Kniesner" <>
Subject: MeSH authority control survey findings

In early April, the Health Sciences OCLC Users Group (HSOCLCUG) conducted
an anonymous survey on MeSH authority control practices in health
sciences libraries. There were 105 respondents to the survey.  Here is a
summary of our findings.

Half the respondents (overwhelmingly the largest group) do their
authority control manually. Half have brought their MeSH authorities up
to date sometime in the last two years, but a third never have. About 70
percent have a mixture in their OPACs of pre-1999, post-1999 and NLM
distributed MeSH.

A third of the respondents are using post-1999 MeSH practices in their
original cataloging, and almost half are applying post-1999 MeSH
practices in their OPACs. The number who would prefer that NLM provide
records to bibliographic utilities with post-1999 MeSH nearly equals
those who prefer NLM to continue its current practice of providing
records with distributed MeSH structure. Thus, respondents appear to be
divided on the post-1999 MeSH vs. distributed MeSH structure issue.

The survey also reveals that most vendor systems' global modification
functionality are not adequate to convert old records in catalogs to
agree with either NLM's current practices (post-1999) or NLM's
distributed structure (distributed through utilities like OCLC).

Almost 60 percent enrich OCLC records with NLM classification and MeSH on
a regular basis. Almost three-fourths would download MeSH authority
records from OCLC if available.

Finally, an unexpectedly large number of comments probably indicate that
MeSH authority control is a topic of very high interest to respondents.

For the entire survey results, including graphical displays, please refer
to this PDF file, using Adobe Acrobat reader:
< >
or click the survey link on this webpage:
< >

We hope you will enjoy examining the survey results and that you will
contact the survey coordinators if you are interested in the work that
HSOCLCUG is doing. MeSH authorities, OCLC new directions, changes at NLM,
and resource sharing/universal MARC Holdings are four areas of special
interest to HSOCLCUG.

The survey coordinators:

Dan Kniesner ( and
Judith Dzierba (