As we digitize, capture and index the pre-1978 Copyright records, a goal is that they be searchable in combination with the existing post-1977 records eventually resulting in a search capability that spans the full realm of creativity and copyright ownership from 1870 to the present. More than 18 million records from 1978 to the present are already available online and first thoughts are to add the pre-1978 records to that same database. However, before we go further with that idea, we’d like to know what you like and what you don’t like about the existing online search functionality for Copyright records. It’s available at the following address: http://cocatalog.loc.gov/. The basic search page looks like this:
Before 2007 when the current search functionality was installed, the post-1977 Copyright records were maintained in three separate files, one each for monograph registrations, serial registrations, and transfer/assignment documents. The index files for searching were similarly kept in separate files although some combined searching of the files was possible. Only left anchored searching was available, a disadvantage when one didn’t know the exact title they were searching for or at least how the title began. The old system had been developed at the Library in the 1970’s and by 2003 the time had come to replace it. A decision was made to use the same software for Copyright records that was already in place for the Library’s bibliographic records and which is still used today. Several benefits derived from this. It meant that the same tool would be used for both Copyright and bibliographic records with a very similar look and feel, a benefit for users of both sets of records. It avoided the cost of buying or developing and maintaining new software just for Copyright records. It leveraged the knowledge and experience that the Library had gained since implementing the software several years earlier. It entailed a conversion of the Copyright data resulting in records that are cleaner, more consistent, and better organized and which enable more portability of the data. And all records are stored in one database. The new software also supported improved indexing and keyword searching.
As with any tool, some users had developed expertise in using the old system and were sad to see it retired. Moving to the new software was a good decision at the time but before we add 16 million more records, we’d like to hear what you think of the present system for searching Copyright records. The Copyright Office is currently conducting an online survey that’s available when one searches the records at the link given above. The survey can only be completed once and requires that your browser pop-up blocker be turned off. If you haven’t already completed the survey, please take a few minutes to use it to provide us with feedback about what you like or don’t like about this search capability or your thoughts on adding the pre-1978 records. Question 6 of the survey has a text box in which you can give us your comments. If you’ve already completed the survey but have additional comments please add them to this post. Whatever feedback or comments you provide based on your experience in searching Copyright records online will be most appreciated and will be taken into account in deciding how to organize, index and make available the pre-1978 records.