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BDZ at the Heart of Two Academic Libraries | BDS: Bibliographic Data Services Ltd - Metadata for libraries and associated services

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Bibliographic Data Services Limited
Metadata for libraries and associated services


BDZ at the Heart of Two Academic Libraries

BDS visits two long-standing customers, the universities of Bath and Bath Spa and discovers a fascinating story of cooperation and collaboration…

Sarah Armitage about to enter Bath University Library

Bath is one of England’s great cities. Its history is still visible as you walk the streets dating back to Roman times while its literary associations ensure that most of us have visited its splendid Georgian architecture through the pages of Jane Austen’s novels and their TV adaptations. But these are not the only reasons people flock to Bath. The city also boasts two of the country’s best universities, the University of Bath and Bath Spa University, and both use BDS data to manage their university library catalogues.

Claire Tylee is Bibliographic Services Librarian at the University of Bath. She gives Sarah Armitage, BDS’s Director of Library Sales, and myself a warm welcome in the glass-fronted foyer of the Library and then leads us through a busy hive of student activity to the Technical Services offices. This is where the data supplied by BDS comes into its own and it is also where we meet Ann Siswell, Deputy Librarian at Bath Spa University, who has come to talk to us alongside Claire.

Both university libraries subscribe to BDZ, which allows their cataloguers direct access to the BDS database using Z39.50 protocol, and also to BDSLive. BDS data, therefore, supports the core cataloguing activity that sustains both libraries and is also used in the acquisitions and checking process from ordering through to placing the book on the shelf.

Claire and Ann begin by telling us about their respective institutions.

“Bath Spa is rooted in the Humanities, Social Sciences and Creative Arts,” explains Ann. “It can trace its history back over 150 years, starting out as the Bath Academy of Art. We have around 5,500 students and they are enrolled automatically in the library when they join the University. We also have around 250 academic staff and, like Bath, they use our electronic services widely and some are regular library visitors as well!”

The University of Bath is directed more toward science and technology. Set up in 1966, it is larger than Bath Spa with almost 15,000 students and 925 academic staff.

“As you’d expect our respective libraries’ stock reflects the subjects we teach,” says Claire. “We are an incredibly busy library, open 24/7 every day of the year – including at Christmas. We have 500 personal computers and laptop docking points, over 20,000 e-books and 18,000 journals and around 600,000 print items in stock. We lend about 700,000 items per annum.”

The relaxed atmosphere at Bath Spa University

Bath Spa University Library has around 171,000 items in stock of which over 12,000 are non-book items such as CDs, DVDs, scores and AV packs. The library subscribes to around 500 individual journals but has access to around 15,000 e-journals.  Last year, there were over 340,000 loans and nearly 325,000 visitors with over 500,000 downloads from its electronic services.

“Maintaining an accurate and readily manageable catalogue that adheres to industry standards is essential to the smooth running of such a busy library,” says Eleanor Cope, Information Librarian (Chartered) Cataloguing, who heads up the three strong cataloguing team at Bath. “We use BDZ in combination with BDSLive to take care of the day to day running of the catalogue and, by implication, the library. This allows my team to deal with specific issues that are unique to our library stock.”

Students working in Bath University Library

Using BDZ, data are downloaded directly to both library systems from where records are seamlessly accessed on the library catalogue by library users both from library workstations or remotely. BDZ and BDSLive are annual subscription services, allowing access for an unlimited number of users.

“BDS data enable us at Bath Spa to make informed decisions regarding stock, to keep our libraries effectively organised and smoothly functioning and frees up staff time to undertake other jobs, including collaborative projects,” says Ann.

One such example of collaboration between the two libraries has been the cataloguing of the Holburne collection which was stored across both university libraries until recently, but was in 2011 moved to a purpose built basement in Bath’s Holburne Museum.

Sir William Holburne’s library consists of about 1,800 volumes. Although many of the volumes are typical of a Victorian ‘Gentleman’s Library’, comprising novels, guide books and histories, there are also exceptional items, such as catalogues of art exhibitions to which he lent, and albums of rare prints. There is also a reference library of art and history books, catalogues and periodicals of about 1,750 volumes covering fine and decorative arts from the Renaissance to the 20th century and the history and architecture of Bath. Some are rare foreign publications that are hard to find in British libraries.

“BDSLive proved very useful to us in this huge undertaking,” says Ann. “Its breadth of content, detail and visual referencing enabled us to identify many items and generate catalogue records. We are all really quite proud of our achievement.”

“No university in the world has ever risen to greatness without a correspondingly great library,” said author and librarian, Robert Clark Powell. Certainly the libraries of the University of Bath and Bath Spa University are helping thousands of students achieve academic excellence across a wide range of subjects. At the heart of those libraries and ensuring that those students get to the items they need is the library catalogue and at the heart of the catalogue is BDS data.

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