Critical Collection Analysis: Exploring Author Data in Bibliographic Records
How would a researcher use your library catalog to find
books by women scholars? Or playscripts by LGBTQ writers? This presentation
explores ways that librarians can understand their collections in more nuanced
ways, beyond simply titles, subjects, and publication dates. Hear about two
current projects at the UC Irvine Libraries are focused on analyzing author
data in bibliographic records.
The “Playscript Order Diversity Audit” collected demographic
data, such as gender, sexuality, and nationality, for playwrights of playscripts
published in FY2011 and FY2019. This data was analyzed to determine purchasing
trends for the UCI Libraries as compared to student body demographics. The data
for collected plays was also compared to the demographics of all playwrights
who were published in these same years to determine if the UCI items were
representative of what was actually available for acquisition. Throughout the
process, the librarian grappled with issues surrounding collecting demographic
data that wasn’t self-reported.
For the larger scale, the “Bibliographic Records as Research
Project,” a team of four librarians analyzed 150,000 records representing
monographs in the catalog with the call numbers C-F, with the initial intention
of finding out how many were written by women. The group also wanted to do so
mindfully, thinking about whether or not it is possible to accurately and
ethically identify an author as a woman based a name alone, and if so, what
methods librarians and scholars could use to do so.