Problems with NYT eds. and indexes James_F.Green 07 Mar 1994 20:42 UTC

Sorry for the duplication or if I have incorrectly guessed that this would be
of any interest to subscribers of these lists.  Please feel free to distribute
this to anyone who might be interested.

Here at Michigan State University, a popular source for citations for New York
Times articles is Information Access Company's Expanded Academic Index, which
we have as a locally mounted database available via our online catalog and
also via the campus network; locally it is known as ACAD.

Recently, in the course of helping a patron obtain a NYT article that was
cited in Expanded Academic index but seemingly not in our collection, I had
occasion to do a little ad-hoc research into different editions of the New
York Times and how they are represented in Expanded Academic Index, and in
our and other libraries' collections.  When I posted this as an internal memo,
several colleagues suggested that I should share this information with a
broader audience, so that is why I am sending it out over the net.

Information Access Company, the producers of Expanded Academic Index (ACAD),
indexes both the National and Late City editions of the New York Times.  (N)
appears after the page numbers of articles from the national edition; (L)
appears after the page numbers of articles from the Late City edition in ACAD

MSU receives the National edition of the New York Times in hard copy for our
current newspaper collection.  However, the New York Times microfilm held by
MSU and virtually everyone else is the much fuller Late City edition.

More often than not, articles appear in both editions; if page numbers are
different, ACAD cites both.  Sometimes, however, an article appears only in
the National or only in the Late City edition.  In such cases, we may not have
the article the patron needs, especially if it is a National-edition-only
article from an older issue of the New York Times.

There's more:  according to IAC customer service reps, IAC indexes the West
Coast version of the National edition, produced in San Francisco; but
libraries in the Midwest get the version that is produced in Chicago.  I
called the New York Times and was able to verify that at times these two
versions do indeed differ slightly, which can cause ACAD (N) cited articles
NOT to appear in our (Midwest) version of the National edition.

If a request for such an article (one that is cited in ACAD but is not in our
collection) comes to the interlibrary loan office, we have great difficulty in
locating a supplier for the article.  The major reason is that all these
differences between various editions of the New York Times are not reflected
in catalog records on OCLC and RLIN, meaning that we cannot tell which
edition(s) of the New York Times are held by different libraries.

My guess that most other libraries' holdings will be similar to ours is
corroborated by the personal experience of Bob Quartell, one of our reference

"I worked for several years at New York Public Library, and we
frequently had requests for past issues of the National edition.  Despite our
best efforts, we were unable to locate ANY library in the nation which kept
archival copies of the National edition.  (And why would they?  Why would
anyone pay to microfilm the National edition when they can get the
much fuller Late City ed.,  which is the microfilmed product.)

Of course, the New York Public Library does not have the National edition, as
it is unavailable in New York!  And patrons will find that the New York Times
itself is of little help in locating copies of any version of any past issues.
They refer inquirers to the library.

We found that, indeed, most libraries are like MSU--they only keep the paper
National ed. until the microfilm arrives, and then it's tossed."

What this all means from my perspective as an ILL assistant is that while I
may be able to find a source for a few of the missing articles (recent West
Coast National edition articles from libraries out west, recent Late City
edition articles from libraries in New York), there will be many times that I
will have to try to convince a disbelieving patron that an article from the
New York Times which is cited in our locally mounted Expanded Academic Index
database is not available from any library.  The major category of these is
older National-edition-only articles.

Of course this has implications for cataloging and preservation as well.  Here
at MSU Ann Silverman of our serials cataloging department is developing a note
that will display in our online catalog that will make it clear that the
microfilm and hard copy editions are not exactly the same.  I don't know
enough about cataloging to suggest what could be done nationally or
internationally, but what ILL folks would like would be a way to tell exactly
what editions other libraries hold in hard copy and microform via the major
bibliographic utilities.  I have no idea whether or not the benefits to be
derived from this level of cataloging detail would justify the cost.

As far as preservation goes, would it make sense for there to be at least one
repository in the world for archival copies of the National edition of the New
York Times?  I'm not sure of the answer to this.  How many articles are there
that are lost this way, and do they have enough enduring value to justify the
expense of preserving them?  I'm sure there's at least one research project in
here somewhere.

If anyone has any further information or can correct me if I'm wrong about any
of this, I'd be delighted to hear from you.

Jim Green
ILL Assistant
Michigan State University Libraries
Document Delivery Service
East Lansing, MI  48824-1048
Phone:  (517) 353-4590
Fax:  (517) 353-9806