Sunday, 5 June 2016

Cataloguing Our Collection

The Friends of the Launceston Mechanics' Institute have started to catalogue our collection and our holdings will gradually appear on the ANBD and TROVE over the next two years.

 Our National Union Code symbol is TLMI. The screenshot below shows three of our titles as they appear on TROVE, including one of the titles which does not seem to be held elsewhere in Australia.

As we begin the biggest project we have undertaken so far, it is timely to revisit a survey undertaken in October 2014.

It will be interesting to see if the results are borne out when the collection is fully catalogued.

The aim of the survey was to determine the proportion of Launceston Mechanics' Institute's nonfiction books held in other Australian libraries. A further aim was to provide a basis for comparison with the holdings of the Ballaarat Mechanics' Institute, an Institute of similar age and size to the LMI.

A representative sample of the LMI collection was checked using the National Library of Australia's TROVE books discovery service. TROVE indexes 21 million books, theses and proceedings held in Australian libraries.
The same sample was checked against the holdings of the Ballaarat Mechanics' Institute, using a database supplied by the Institute.  The BMI collection is not listed on TROVE.
The sample was randomly selected by tagging and checking the tenth book on each shelf.
Sample size – LMI nonfiction Sample (n=367) – 95% confidence, 4% MoE.
Publication dates of all sampled items were recorded in order to develop an age profile of the collection.

This is an outline of what we discovered:

TROVE Listed
1. Libraries listed on Trove held 276 titles in the same edition as that held by LMI (75.2% of the sample).
2. Of these 53 (14.4% of the sample) were held by only one other library.
3. Libraries listed on Trove held a further 47 titles (12.8%) but only in a different edition to that held by LMI.
4. Libraries listed on Trove offered access to a further 39 titles (10.6%) in digital format but did not hold the printed book. i.e. only LMI held a print copy of these titles.
5. LMI held copies of a further 5 titles that were not listed on Trove in either print or microform editions and for which no digital access was offered. (1.4%)
6. In total 24.8% of the sample was unique to the LMI collection in print form in that specific edition

Ballaarat Mechanics' Institute
1. Of the 367 titles in the sample, 86 (23.4%) were found on the Ballarat collection database.
2. There were 55 exact matches (14.9%).
3. 31 titles in the sample were the same title but in a different edition.
4. A subsequent check of 373 fiction titles held by LMI revealed even less correlation. Only 11 titles (2.9%) in this sample were held by both Institutes.

In summary:
1. The LMI nonfiction collection includes a significant proportion of material not held elsewhere in Australian libraries.
2. There are great differences between the holdings of the LMI and the Ballaarat Mechanics' Institute – a feature which merits further research.
3. The age profile of the sample – below -  illuminates, and raises many questions for further research about, the development of the collection over its period of operation.

Figure 1: LMI Collection by Date of Publication

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