Retrospective Conversion of Card Catalogues to Online Catalogue By Using OCR Technology: A Case of AAAU Libraries

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Addis Ababa University


Conversion of card catalogues to a computerized catalogue, called retrospective conversion or RECON, is the primary hurdle of effective library automation. There are several options for RECON, but recent advances in OCR technology make it a prominent alternative. This thesis has mainly examined technical feasibility of the OCR technology for RECON with particular reference to Addis Ababa University libraries' union catalogue The thesis reviews the various options for RECON in the context of Addis Ababa University Library System. It also reviews technological advancements of optical scanning and OCR technology stressing on document scanning and OCR with particular reference to their application in libraries, particularly RECON. An introduction to the Addis Ababa University Library System gives an overview of the library system with particular reference to its cataloguing department and cataloguing practices followed therein, and automation plan of the library system.Two sets of catalogue cards, each consisting 115 added up to 230, were chosen from the union catalogue for this study. The sets of cards consisted of main entries made under name of personal author (40 each), under title (40 each), and corporate body (35 each). A prototype program, called P AEBE, was written in C++ using the first set of cards. The various steps include: scanning and conversion of the cards to ASCII text files, analyzing of the files, manual editing of the files, called reprocessing, if necessary, writing and running the program creating output records consisting of each bibliographic item preceded by an appropriate field identifier. It was noted that the success of the prototype depends much on the accuracy of OCR software, consistency of information on card catalogues, and quality of card catalogues. The prototype was tested with the second set of catalogue cards; and the results are discussed. It was found out that the performance of the prototype program is encouraging. The thesis also highlights implementation strategy for the RECON using OCR technology. Finally, some conclusions and recommendations for further studies are forwarded.



Information Science