The Digital conversion of the historical catalogue

The history of the Montserrat Library catalogues can be traced back to the creation of a number of handwritten index cards. Until 1943, readers only had a catalogue of authors at their disposal. Work was then started on the manual creation of catalogues listing authors as well as subjects, on typed cards. These files now form the basis for the current process of catalogue computerisation at the Montserrat Library, which was started in October 1998 as the result of an agreement reached between the Telefónica Foundation and the Abadia de Montserrat 2025 Foundation. The company Ifigenia Plus has been acting as coordinator for the conversion process being carried out by Verba Logica, a research group from the Department of Logic at the UCM (Complutense University of Madrid), specialising in the automated analysis of documents. Given the volume of the entries to be computerised, we favoured an automated approach to converting the catalogues.

    The work process can be summarised in the following way:
  • Automatic reading and capture of the entries.
  • Analysis of the captured information with translation by means of uniform notation.
  • Transformation to target format (MARC21) for integration into the Library's management system.

This process has successfully extracted and converted some 250,000 entries from the catalogue of the Abbey of Montserrat Library, relating to monographs, manuscripts, incunabula, catalogues from the XVI century, cartography, engravings and periodical publications. Furthermore, in this same Library 75,000 records have also been added to the computer files since 1990. It should be pointed out that the catalogue is constantly being updated, as the files it contains are based on an historical catalogue.