Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson

The Joseph Meyerhoff Library Collection of the Baltimore Hebrew University has come to Towson. Click here to read about the Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University. BHU was recently absorbed by Towson and is now known as the Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson. (Click here to read the Baltimore Sun article about the merger.) As a result, Cook Library also absorbed the Meyerhoff Library, considered the largest collection of Judaica outside of the Library of Congress.  Roughly 70,000 items arrived at Towson last summer, including 50,000 titles and 1,000 Rare book and Special Collection items.  Aside from the educational value alone of such a collection, it also retains many rare and one-of-a-kind items.  I'm sure I'll talk about some of these items later, in a different blog post, but wanted to briefly explain, to the best of my limited ability, how one library merges their collection records with another library.

Since we are in the final stages of merging these records, I am currently checking to make sure the MARC fields contain or have retained what they are supposed to contain in our test public access catalog or the OPAC.  But the process started long before this.  Since Towson is part of the University of Maryland system, all of our technical library system changes or enhancements are developed at the main technical department at the University of Maryland at College Park.  The College Park people had to work with OCLC in order to make sure that all of the programming on our end, and their end was done correctly in order to add these 50,000 records into our catalog.  Rules had to be made, and changed and adjusted in order to make things fit.  Some of the BHU records included fields we don't use, and vice versa.  Rules and records were adjusted accordingly.  The BHU catalog was unable to display items in Hebrew characters, however College Park, was able to program our current catalog to display records with Hebrew characters. This process began at the end of August and, since we are now in our testing phase, is almost complete.  This kind of process can potentially take years, but due to the dedication of many people in many places is almost complete in just a matter of months.  It is pretty cool.

Sure some people might use a superpower like seeing the future to; save lives, stop wars, gain fame, garner riches, find love, etc. etc.  But not me. No. Because as I'm carefully scrutinizing the BHU records for any wonky displays, I keep thinking, I speak Spanish, took some French, a couple courses in ASL, & some Latin, but why, oh why, didn't I take one single introductory course in Hebrew!  Ack! If only I could have seen the future!!*  Next semester's course catalog must be around here somewhere...

*I also might have also placed a few bets.  Don't judge.  You should see my student loans.

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