Medical Subject Headings
OCLC Services

A Health Sciences OCLC Users Group Task Force, 2001-2004

Authority Practices Survey Results
(2002) [.pdf]
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Summary: Survey on MeSH Authority Control Practices

1. Summary:
The Health Sciences OCLC Users Group (HSOCLCUG) conducted an anonymous survey on MeSH authority control practices in health sciences libraries from April 3 to April 20, 2002 at the survey website < >.
There were a total of 105 respondents. Answers and comments are presented below.

Examination of the survey results reveals that 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.

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.

A .pdf version of the entire document is available for printing.

Survey coordinators may be contacted:

Dan Kniesner ( and Judith Dzierba (



Joint Resolution: HSOCLCUG is joined by MLA/TSS (May 2002) & Medical Section/B&LS Division/SLA (June 2002)

Health Sciences OCLC Users Group (HSOCLCUG) has continued its lobby to have Medical Subject Headings included in the authority files loaded into the OCLC System. It is hoped that the new technologies in OCLC's Cataloging and Metadata Services Interface will make this proposal feasible. The Medical Library Association, Technical Services Section (MLA TSS) approved the formal resolution at their business meeting held during the MLA Annual Meeting in Dallas, TX on May 21, 2002. The Medical Section of the Biomedical & Life Sciences Division of the Special Libraries Association also approved the resolution at their business meeting held during the Annual SLA Conference in Los Angeles, CA on June 9, 2002.

The formal resolution has been amended to incorporate the above groups:

"...* RESOLVED, that the Health Sciences OCLC Users Group, the Technical Services Section of the Medical Library Association, and the Medical Section of the Biomedical & Life Sciences Division of the Special Libraries Association urge OCLC to investigate best possible method for the loading and the maintenance of medical subject headings, using NLM's MeSH file(s) or using the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS®), into the online authority file."

Comment on the Medical Subject Heading Resolution!

Resolution(2002): Information & Background

... Now is the time for research, investigation and discussion. We welcome comments concerning this issue via professional lists, to HSOCLCUG officers and to your regional representatives on OCLC Members Council. . Informational updates on the Joint Resoution will be made on the official HSOCLCUG e-list, MEDCAT, and the TSS list in addition to notification via the HSOCLCUG website.


Medical Subject Headings in OCLC Services Task Force


Dan Kniesner, Chair
Oregon Health & Science University Library
Portland, Oregon
Joan Gregory
Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT
Judith Dzierba
Library of Rush University
Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center
Committee Member 2002-03
Open position

Betsy Friesen
Bio-Medical Library
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN
Mary Holt
Rudolph Matas Library
Tulane University Health Sciences (TUHS)
New Orleans, LA


Background: Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)/Cooperative Online Resource Catalog (CORC)

Background of the MeSH in CORC Proposal and Survey, 2000-2001

"The Health Sciences OCLC Users Group (HSOCLCUG) has lobbied OCLC for some time to have the entire MeSH authority file loaded into the OCLC Cataloging System. New technologies in OCLC's Cooperative Online Resource Catalog (CORC) may offer the opportunity to have the MeSH file loaded in the CORC environment..."

MeSH in CORC Survey: Documents

Analyzed Data including Results and Respondent Comments (17 April 2001)

Results, Including Respondent Comments (7 February 2001)

Summary of Report Results (8 February 2001)

The deadline for the survey has passed. Survey results are being compiled and will be reported. :

Additional information on the MeSH in CORC proposal and the previous HSOCLCUG resolution is available.

Thank you to our colleagues for their participation in the informational survey of the MeSH/CORC working group and for their continued support and comments regarding the current resolution and the investigative work of this Task Force.

Updated 21 June, 2002; 5 May 2002; 14 January 2002; Created 20 September 2001
MJH/dk & jd

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