Bib utilities WAS: RE: [Web4lib] Getting catalog software vendors to make more useablesoftware choices

K.G. Schneider kgs at
Sun Jul 17 12:13:06 EDT 2005

> In a sense they do, although not usually the whole database in one fell
> swoop. Most systems today do allow a record set download, either in MARC
> or, more commonly, a tagged format. The big problem is that the tools
> for using bibliographic data on desktops are very poor, in my
> experience. I had to do some work with EndNote and found the user
> interface annoying and unpleasant, and the entire program just way too
> lumbering to be usable. I know that there are some folks working on open
> source bibliographic software, but I'm not sure that the user interfaces
> are any better.

Wellllll, I'll give a different point of view. I do a lot of research on my
own these days for a second master I'm pursuing (call it a middle-aged snipe
hunt). I find that I have a 50-50 chance of finding databases and catalogs
that export data in bibliographic format. When they do, importing the data
is a no-brainer. I never was crazy about Endnote, but now I use RefWorks, a
Web-based bib client which I adore. If the catalog or database can give me
as little as a reasonable screen dump, RefWorks imports the records in
faithful format. I can then output it in a gadzillion ways, create
bibliographies, populate my records with special fields, and on and on. In
some cases I can import the data directly -->when the database or catalog
has been set up with the individual researcher in mind and supports popular
formats such as Endnote and Refworks. In other cases I can email the data to
myself and suck it up that way. 

But what I find in my scavenging, which takes me across many catalogs and
databases in pursuit of a wide range of stuff, is many catalogs and
databases aren't enabled for output to bibliographic utilities, in some
cases for anyone and in some cases for the hoi-polloi who are not their
users. I then go into other catalogs or databases in pursuit of suckable
records in any format RefWorks can recognize, something I doubt the average
non-librarian would do. In other words, I'm often ILL'ing from A and getting
the records from B or C because A doesn't allow exports. 

Don't blame the bib utility because someone's catalog doesn't give me a
chance at an export. 

The three things I miss when I'm into heavy research mode:

Bib format outputs for every catalog/database I probe (just because I'm not
your user doesn't mean I don't use your catalog--don't you know "research"
means I search, and search, and search again? ;> )

MARC output for Open Worldcat, which I also use heavily in my "finding mode"

Some doomaflatchy that tells me when an Open Worldcat item is in Link+ (a
consortium in these parts of the woods) with a deep link to Link+ while
we're at it ... 

Anyway, maybe the utilities would be better (though RefWorks suits me just
fine) if the catalogs and databases offered the exports more consistently.
Just a thought... 

Karen G. Schneider
kgs at

More information about the Web4lib mailing list