The Availability of MeSH in
Vendor-Supplied Cataloguing
Records, as Seen Through
the Catalogue of a Canadian
Academic Health Library
Pamela S. Morgan
is study examines the prevalence of medical subject headings in vendor-
supplied cataloguing records for publications contained within aggregated da-
tabases or publisher collections. In the rst phase, the catalogue of one Ca-
nadian academic medical library was examined to determine the extent to
which medical subject headings (MeSH) are available in the vendor-supplied
records. In the second phase, these results were compared to the catalogues of
other Canadian academic medical libraries in order to reach a generalization
T A  MSH  V-S C R 57
regarding the availability of MeSH headings for electronic resources. MeSH
was more widespread in records for electronic journals but was noticeably
lacking in records for electronic monographs, and for Canadian publications.
ere is no standard for ensuring MeSH are assigned to monograph records
for health titles and there is no library in Canada with responsibility for en-
suring that Canadian health publications receive Medical Subject Headings.
It is incumbent upon libraries using MeSH to ensure that vendors are aware
of this need when purchasing record sets.
As electronic resources become more accepted, and expected, in libraries, pur-
chasing of e-journals and of e-books has become a commonplace occurrence.
Many libraries now purchase these resources in packages rather than via individ-
ual selection. Libraries are then faced with the challenge of making the multitude
of individual titles in these packages known to their users. One of the preferred
methods is to provide access via the catalogue, whereby every individual title in a
package has a MARC record in the library catalogue.
When packages rst became available, many libraries tried cataloguing the
titles locally and found themselves overburdened by the workload. e packages
included such large numbers of titles being acquired at once that it made the
timeliness of cataloguing the individual titles a challenge. In addition, in the case
of aggregated databases of e-journals, the content in the packages was not stable
and titles, holdings, or URLs could change at any time. Cataloguing the individu-
al titles in these packages could mean correcting numerous records every month.
For these reasons, the practice of purchasing MARC record sets developed,
with libraries purchasing the initial record set at the time of acquisition of a pack-
age. Many libraries took the additional step of subscribing to a MARC record
service for packages that incur frequent changes and whose records require regular
While it is possible to enhance or customize these purchased records, it is not
practical in most cases for the same reason that it is dicult to catalogue and
maintain them in the rst place. e initial record in the catalogue could be over-
written at any time with a replacement record as titles, editions, coverage, URLs,
etc., are modied and require changes to the record.
Memorial University of Newfoundland has approximately 15,500 undergradu-
ate and 2,500 graduate students on two campuses. As the only university in the

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