In a short post on his web log yesterday, Lorcan Dempsey remarked on how few discussions on bibliographic data and cataloging contain any appeals to evidence, especially on matters of cost and value.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time looking for exactly the same material lately, and my experience of CSI:LIS has been equally frustrating.

The most useful articles on estimating a value for a bibliographic record I’ve found so far were [Mat00] and [Mat01]. Even these articles used a model of value that I’m not entirely comfortable with – I was looking for a more marginal approach that could be used to estimate the economic effect of rule changes in terms of deltas to recall, precision, and cost of indexing.

I asked Don King if he could suggest any recent papers on the topic, and he looked sad too.

In other areas of the disciple there does seem to be more support for the practice of Evidence Based Librarianship (EBL); indeed the field now has its own journal – Evidence Based Library and Information Practice [EBLIP].

There is also an annual conference (called unimaginatively The International Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Conference). The 4th conference in the series was hosted by UNC Chapel Hill this past May; the conference web site and full papers are available at The next conference is not scheduled until 2009.

There is an EBL wiki at

Despite it’s genesis from the field of Evidence Based Medicine (EBM), EBL has yet to spawn its own musical genre. Would Front 245 be a good band name?


[EBLIP] Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, available at
[Mat00] Joe Matthews, The value of information in library catalogs., Information Outlook 4 (2000), 18.
[Mat01] _____, The value of information: The case of the library catalog., Technical Services Quarterly, 19 (2001), no. 2, 1–16.

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