Medical Subject Headings in OCLC Services

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

Authority Practices Survey Results (2002) [.pdf]
OCLC Users Council
OCLC Pathfinder: Resources/Background on MeSH

Contacts HSOCLCUG Bylaws HSOCLCUG Membership Start of Message

Medical Subject Heading RESOLUTION

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. Our timeline is similar to the one published by OCLC, as we hope to have some action on our resolution with the integration of the authority services in the new OCLC interface. Now is the time for research, investigation and discussion.

HSOCLCUG submitted an earlier proposal to OCLC Users Council which requested that MeSH be loaded into the CORC database. The MeSH/CORC proposal was delayed due to OCLC's decision to change their system architecture. HSOCLCUG hopes to use the time to investigate medical subject heading authority possibilities for the appropriate OCLC services and to keep the issue on the agenda of the Collections and Technical Services Interest Group of OCLC Members Council.

Discussion is encouraged on HSOCLCUG's electronic list, MEDCAT , the TSS list, and on other professional lists and meetings. Revisions to the published version have been posted to MEDCAT and mounted on the HSOCLCUG website. The version below was approved by MLA's Technical Services Section after a period of additional review and comments. An informal discussion was also held during ALA Midwinter, January 18, 2002.

A Survey on MeSH Authority Control Practices was carried out by Dan Kniesner and Judith Dzierba with the support of the HSOCLCUG during the Spring of 2002. The preliminary results of this survey were made available during MLA in Dallas, 2002. A report of their findings is available in .pdf format:

A HSOCLCUG Task Force to investigate the new electronic environment and landscape of both OCLC and the National Library of Medicine is continuing to work on this issue. Contact the Medical Subject Heading Task Force Chair: Dan Kniesner, Oregon Health & Science University Library, E-mail:

The following resolution is based upon the content of the 1995 resolution originally published in Start of Message and Annual Proceedings : No.75/76 (June-September 1995), p. 13. The current resolution incorporates concerns and language from an informal discussion of members attending the Medical Library Association in Orlando Florida (May 2001). This current version is amended from the 2001 resolution (October 28, 2001, HSOCLCUG Business Meeting) which was published in Start of Message, no.93, (2001), p.7. Health Sciences OCLC Users Group membership discussed and made minor changes in the wording of this resolution during the October 28, 2001 business meeting. The resolution was discussed by the Medical Library Association, Technical Services Section (MLA TSS) Business Meeting at their business meeting held during the MLA Annual Meeting in Dallas, TX on May 21, 2002. The membership approved the formal resolution. The resolution was also approved by the Special Libraries Association, Medical Section of the Biomedical & Life Sciences Division at their business meeting held during the SLA Annual Conference in Los Angeles, CA on June, 9, 2002.

The Resolution may be used to educate and lobby OCLC representatives on the OCLC Members Council and OCLC staff concerning this issue of importance to the medical library community.   Contact the HSOCLCUG executive board members with your comments and other issues. You may also communicate your specific concerns, as well as support of the proposal, to your regional network delegate(s) to the OCLC Members Council.



  • WHEREAS, member libraries rely on OCLC's WorldCat database and the OCLC services to libraries,

  • WHEREAS, OCLC is no longer using the annual MeSH MARC file from the National Library of Medicine to correct existing MeSH headings in the WorldCat database, and

  • WHEREAS, an online medical and scientific authority file and services would enable member libraries to maintain more easily these corrected headings, and would enhance the efficiency of member libraries performing subject authority work,

  • WHEREAS, the WorldCat database would be further enhanced if the medical headings were corrected, providing greater reliability of subject searches in the electronic environment, therefore, be it

  • RESOLVED, that the Health Sciences OCLC Users Group, 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.

  • We further seek OCLC's inclusion of medical subject headings in the development of OCLC's new system, and request that OCLC clearly and formally commit to the inclusion of medical subject heading authority in their strategic plan.

    October 28, 2001, HSOCLCUG Business Meeting
    May 21, 2002, Joint Resolution approved Medical Library Association Technical Services Section (MLA TSS)
    June 9, 2002, Joint Resolution approved Medical Section of the Biomedical & Life Sciences Division of the Special Libraries Association

    Related documentation:
    OCLC Pathfinder:
    HSOCLCUG Task Force Homepage:


    BACKGROUND: Previous Resolution & Proposal (1995-2000):


    Originally published: Start of Message and Annual Proceedings No. 75/76 (June-September 1995), p. 13.

    Past MeSH/CORC proposal from: Start of Message: The Newsletter of the Health Sciences OCLC Users Group website (January 2001)

    Proposal to: OCLC Users Council

    Date: October 9, 2000

    From: Health Sciences OCLC Users Group

    Re: Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) and OCLC Services

    The Health Sciences OCLC Users Group (HSOCLCUG) would like to refresh its "Resolution on Loading MeSH into the OCLC Authority File". We are interested in working with OCLC to plan a load of the 2001 edition of MeSH. The Group would be very interested in attempting a MeSH load into the Cooperative Online Resource Catalog (CORC). We would suggest that an initial load include only the MeSH records for topical headings and not the subheadings or qualifiers.

    The CORC system offers unique authority features that have been, previously, unavailable to us. The availability of Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) in CORC is very exciting and we would like to have all these features offered for MeSH, as well. MeSH users would be benefited in the following ways:

    1. Ability to import single MeSH authority records
    2. Ability to use the CORC authority features, such as "Control All"
    3. Global maintenance of MeSH headings in CORC

    The Health Sciences OCLC Users Group is also working to encourage medical librarians to offer their expertise in the selection and description of health science electronic resources, thus enriching the CORC database. Could you help us to make our proposal for this project a reality on the OCLC agenda for implementation?

    The original MeSH load resolution was passed at the 1995 HSOCLCUG annual meeting (see below). MeSH in OCLC cataloging and authority services continue to be an important issue for our Group.

    Thank you for your consideration of our proposal.


    Mary Holt, President-elect
    Tulane University Health Sciences Center, Rudolph Matas Medical Library, New Orleans, LA

    Dan Kniesner, MeSH MARC, Committee Chair Oregon Health Sciences University Library, Portland OR

    Betsy Friesen, CORC Liaison Bio-Medical Library, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN


    MeSH in OCLC Home:

    HSOCLCUG Homepage:

    The Health Sciences OCLC Users Group, is an independent group composed of health sciences libraries and individuals who either use or are interested in the use of the services of OCLC, Inc. in health sciences libraries.

    Updated: June 21, 2002; June 4, 2002,; January 14, 2002; October 5, 2001; Created September 21, 2001


    History: First Draft (June 6, 2001) - Published in Start of Message, no.93, (2001), p.7. : October 28, 2001(amended) HSOCLCUG Business Meeting , Amended per email, J.Dzierba (Fri, 12 Oct 2001). Posting to MEDCAT list, D. Kniesner ( Tue, 16 Oct 2001) Subject line: New HSOCLCUG resolution on MeSH and OCLC services [unarchived list], MLA Technical Trends Section (Dallas MLA Annual meeting, May 21, 2002: Joint Resolution approved. SLA Medical Section of the Biomedical & Life Sciences Division (Los Angeles SLA Annual conference, June 9, 2002: Joint Resolution approved .