Cataloging Oral Histories: Creating MARC Records for Individual Oral History Interviews

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [University of North Texas]On: 26 November 2014, At: 09:52Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>Cataloging &amp; Classification QuarterlyPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:</p><p>Cataloging Oral Histories: Creating MARCRecords for Individual Oral HistoryInterviewsSusan C. Wynne aa University of Wyoming , Laramie, Wyoming, USAPublished online: 18 Jun 2009.</p><p>To cite this article: Susan C. Wynne (2009) Cataloging Oral Histories: Creating MARC Recordsfor Individual Oral History Interviews, Cataloging &amp; Classification Quarterly, 47:6, 561-582, DOI:10.1080/01639370902935471</p><p>To link to this article:</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever orhowsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arisingout of the use of the Content.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &amp;Conditions of access and use can be found at</p><p></p></li><li><p>Cataloging &amp; Classification Quarterly, 47:561582, 2009Copyright Taylor &amp; Francis Group, LLCISSN: 0163-9374 print / 1544-4554 onlineDOI: 10.1080/01639370902935471</p><p>Cataloging Oral Histories: Creating MARCRecords for Individual Oral History Interviews</p><p>SUSAN C. WYNNEUniversity of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, USA</p><p>Cataloging oral histories presents many difficulties, especially forcatalogers who have primarily worked with published materialsand for institutions without funds or staff dedicated to managingoral history collections. Methods for cataloging oral histories canvary widely among institutions. In this article I examine the is-sues and considerations involved in providing intellectual accessto oral history interviews and offer a possible cataloging methodto libraries holding unprocessed oral history materials. The cata-loging procedures discussed here have worked well from a workflowstandpoint as one of the initial steps to create access to oral historiesat Columbus State University, a medium-sized academic library.</p><p>KEYWORDS oral histories, cataloging, MARC records, ColumbusState University Libraries</p><p>INTRODUCTION</p><p>Providing access to oral histories may be a major challenge for libraries lack-ing funding or staff dedicated to oral histories or for catalogers accustomed tohandling published materials. Despite the great advances made following thepublication of the Oral History Cataloging Manual (OHCM) in 1995, accessto oral histories in libraries still suffers from a lack of consensus and standard-ization. This article explores some of the issues surrounding the cataloging oforal history interviews. I also present an in-depth, although not exhaustive,discussion of the cataloging procedures for individual oral history interviewsdeveloped at Columbus State University (CSU), a medium-sized academiclibrary in Columbus, Georgia. These procedures are one component of alarger project to make oral histories at CSU more visible and accessible.</p><p>Received October 2008; revised February 2009; accepted March 2009.Address correspondence to Susan C. Wynne, Catalog Librarian, University of Wyoming,</p><p>1000 East University Ave., Laramie, WY 82071. E-mail:</p><p>561</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f N</p><p>orth</p><p> Tex</p><p>as] </p><p>at 0</p><p>9:52</p><p> 26 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p></li><li><p>562 S. C. Wynne</p><p>DEFINITION OF ORAL HISTORY AND ITS VALUE</p><p>Oral history is the process of deliberately eliciting and preserving, usuallyin audio or audio and visual recording media, a persons spoken recollec-tions of events and experiences based on first-hand knowledge.1 An oralhistory interview is a specific type of interview covering a subject of his-torical interest, conducted by an interviewer who has some understandingof the subject with a knowledgeable interviewee. Interviews are interactiveand in question-and-answer format. The purpose is not merely to recordinformation but to make it available to researchers.2</p><p>Oral history can help fill gaps in the historical record by preservingthe viewpoints and experiences of persons and groups who may be un-derrepresented in published works. Further, as information exchange andcorrespondence increasingly occur in the digital arena, oral history will con-tinue to serve as a tool for supplementing and understanding the historicalrecord.3 Oral history on the World Wide Web also affords an opportunity toincrease the visibility of archives and participation in documenting historyfor users who may not be likely to visit archives or libraries in person.4</p><p>One of the recommendations of the Library of Congress Working Group onthe Future of Bibliographic Control concerns enhancing access to hidden,rare, or unique special collections.5 As many institutions rely more heavilyon outsourcing and sharing catalog data, focusing less on in-house localcustomization of records for widely held published materials, there maybe a shift of local cataloging expertise to unique collections such as oralhistories.</p><p>LACK OF CONSENSUS IN ACCESS METHODS</p><p>Although oral histories are intended for use by researchers, many institutionsstruggle to provide avenues for access. There are various reasons for inade-quate access, including funding and staffing issues, preservation difficulties,and a lack of consensus or standardization in cataloging methods. A majoradvance in standardizing cataloging methods for oral histories occurred in1995 with the publication of the Oral History Cataloging Manual (OHCM).However, access to oral histories still remains less standardized than accessto other types of materials. In 2004, respondents to MacKays survey of oralhistory programs in several types of institutions were fairly evenly dividedamong those who create finding aids, those who create MARC records, andthose who dont catalog at all.6</p><p>Unlike published materials, which may be collected by many libraries,oral history interviews are usually unique to a particular institution. Mostlibrarians would find it unacceptable to collect published materials without</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f N</p><p>orth</p><p> Tex</p><p>as] </p><p>at 0</p><p>9:52</p><p> 26 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p></li><li><p>Cataloging Oral Histories 563</p><p>providing adequate access, but oral histories and other unpublished materialsoften linger in a backlog limbo, uncataloged and essentially unavailable toresearchers. However, oral histories deserve attention precisely because theyare unique to a particular institution and often cover topics or viewpointsthat may be underrepresented in published works.</p><p>THE LOCAL PROBLEM: INVISIBLE ORAL HISTORIES</p><p>Columbus State University (CSU), located in Columbus, Georgia, is an insti-tution within the University System of Georgia with an enrollment of 7,600students. The CSU Libraries have a collection of 240,000 volumes. The CSUArchives, which is physically and administratively part of the Libraries, holdsapproximately five hundred oral history interviews in a variety of formatscovering several subjects of local and regional interest, such as textile mills,school desegregation, and the cleanup of corruption and vice in Phenix City,Alabama. However, until 2004 these materials were essentially invisible, be-cause the only existing method of access was an incomplete in-house printfinding aid. Before the current project, researchers not only needed to haveprior knowledge that the interviews existed, they also needed to come tothe Archives in person to learn what was available and to use the material.Creating MARC records for selected individual interviews is only one com-ponent of a project currently underway to make these materials accessibleon a broader scale. Other initiatives include digitizing selected oral historytypescripts, providing a Web-based finding aid for oral histories, and creatingnew policies for future acquisitions.</p><p>The author, who was the sole professional cataloger at CSU, and thearchivist knew that staffing and workflow considerations would limit the timethat could be devoted to oral histories. Although we sought to improve accessin several ways, competing priorities and the inability to hire additional staffmeant that working through the backlog of oral histories would likely bean ongoing project for some time; we could not always work on themsteadily when other higher priority demands arose. Some oral history taskswere eventually delegated to the one paraprofessional cataloger as well asstudent workers in the Archives, but these individuals also faced competingdemands on their time, many of which took precedence over the oral historybacklog. Also, the Archives plans to add new oral history materials to thecollection. Although making oral histories accessible was important to theinstitution, the fact remained that resources could not always be stretched toaccommodate them. Despite these limitations, we made progress in workingthrough the backlog, and now have policies and procedures in place whichshould decrease the amount of time required to process new acquisitions.</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f N</p><p>orth</p><p> Tex</p><p>as] </p><p>at 0</p><p>9:52</p><p> 26 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p></li><li><p>564 S. C. Wynne</p><p>CHALLENGES AND ISSUES IN CATALOGING ORAL HISTORIES</p><p>The archives of the AUTOCAT electronic discussion list mention many ofthe issues and questions that arise when catalogers face an oral historycataloging project. Some of the questions that list members have asked since1995 include:</p><p> What should the main entry be for a group of interviews or an individualinterview?</p><p> What level of staffing is appropriate for an oral history cataloging project? How should fixed fields be coded? Should oral histories be classified as biographies, local history, or some-</p><p>thing else? Are any form subdivisions appropriate for oral histories? What genre heading(s) are correct, if any? General inquiries for advice from catalogers that have worked with oral</p><p>histories.7</p><p>The chief difficulty in cataloging oral histories is that they do not conformwell to accepted standards for either published materials or archival ma-terials. Oral histories are neither fish nor fowl.8 Until the publication ofOHCM , oral histories were often treated more like published library materi-als (when they were cataloged at all), even though they do not necessarilyfit established cataloging standards for books and other more traditional li-brary materials.9 OHCM is based more on the archival approach to catalogingthan the library approach. Like traditional archival cataloging, OHCM focuseson the context surrounding the creation of the material and on describinggroups of materials that share the same provenance.</p><p>Although oral histories resemble archival materials in some ways, beingunpublished and deriving at least some of their meaning from the context oftheir creation, they do not accrue as the result of a person or organizationsnormal activities as manuscript collections do.10 Rather, an oral history comesinto being via interaction between the interviewer and the interviewee.11 Thestandard manual for description of archival materials, Describing Archives:A Content Standard (DACS), does not directly address oral histories otherthan referring to the Oral History Cataloging Manual in its appendix entitledCompanion Standards.12</p><p>Oral histories are also similar to published sound recordings, videorecordings, and books in some ways, sharing more physical characteristicswith these materials than with manuscript collections. An individual inter-view may be able to stand alone. The standard guide for published materials,Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd edition (AACR2), also does not di-rectly address oral histories.13 Even though they do not specifically refer tooral histories, both DACS and AACR2 can be helpful in several aspects of</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f N</p><p>orth</p><p> Tex</p><p>as] </p><p>at 0</p><p>9:52</p><p> 26 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p></li><li><p>Cataloging Oral Histories 565</p><p>cataloging oral histories. For example, both standards include guidelines forconstructing personal and corporate name headings that can assist the cat-aloger in creating headings that distinguish similar names from each otherand are consistent with other headings in the catalog or finding aid. Oral his-tory interviews often concern local individuals and organizations that maynot be established in existing authority files, so catalogers routinely need toconstruct new headings for the bibliographic records, even if they do notcreate new authority records.</p><p>Often each individual interview or project exists in multiple formats.In addition to the well-known difficulties of preserving multiple analog anddigital formats over the long term, varying forms of media present catalogingissues as well. For example, should all formats be described if only one for-mat is available for use? Cataloging multiple formats is more time consuming,which makes them more likely to sit on a shelf awaiting attention. As newdigital formats continue to emerge, preserving and cataloging different oralhistory formats will likely become more difficult and costly.</p><p>OHCM has admirably filled a need for cataloging standards for oralhistories, and has improved accessibility to oral history materials for thoseinstitutions that use it.14 It is the only cataloging manual to address oral histo-ries specifically, and it provides helpful examples, especially for fields suchas biographical sketch and summary/abstract, as applicable to oral histories.However, not all of its rules suited the local situation and preferences atCSU. OHCM is also more than thirteen years old. It was based on Archives,Personal Papers and Manuscripts, 2nd edition,15 which has been supersededby DACS, and the 1988 revision of AACR2.</p><p>SURVEY METHODOLOGY AND GENERAL RESULTS</p><p>During...</p></li></ul>