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Backstage Library Works launches new service: Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) deconstruction


Kat Kamp
Backstage Library Works
Phone: 801.356.1852
news[email protected]

PROVO, Utah, February 29, 2016 –– In a recent pilot project with Drexel University, Backstage Library Works ( developed a unique service that solves the challenge of deconstructing MeSH authorities. Backstage’s innovative program is designed to follow the National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) practices for faceted headings, allowing libraries that participate in Backstage’s service to update medical subject headings consistent with NLM’s recently modified CATFILE and SERFILE databases.

Drexel University offered to collaborate with Backstage to explore the conversion process. Drexel provided Backstage with 60,000 bibliographic records containing MeSH terms and provided valuable suggestions and feedback to help improve the service. Backstage also worked very closely with NLM to ensure Backstage processes follow NLM’s specific guidelines. NLM provided insight on the methodology behind its database structure as well as the logic for deconstruction.

Holly Tomren, head of metadata services for Drexel University Libraries relates:

“I was pleased to partner with Backstage Library Works to test its Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) deconstruction service, following the National Library of Medicine’s announcement that it would be re-formatting its headings using a faceted approach. I provided Backstage with a file of approximately 60,000 bibliographic records that contained MeSH terms, which Backstage processed according to NLM’s instructions. Backstage’s processing correctly separated out geographical terms and publication types to their appropriate MARC fields, as well as re-ordered the fields according to NLM’s guidelines.

“After reviewing Backstage’s work, I made additional suggestions about de-duplication of headings, as well as detection of coding errors in the source data that would impact the processing. I was thrilled that Backstage was able to incorporate all of my suggestions to improve their service. Overall I am very satisfied with Backstage’s quality of work, responsiveness to feedback, and willingness to collaborate with Drexel University Libraries on this project.”

Ms. Tomren will be presenting: Unlocking the Fresh Air Archives with APIs and URIs at the Metadata Matters seminar in Philadelphia on March 30, 2016. Metadata Matters is part of a series of one-day seminars hosted by Backstage Library Works.

Nate Cothran, vice president of automation services at Backstage states:

For more information on NLM’s Change to Subject Headings in Distributed NLM CATLINE and SERLINE Products, see:

For more information on Backstage’s one-day seminar, Metadata Matters see:

About Backstage Library Works

Backstage’s objective is to provide the most technologically advanced, high quality, yet efficient means for delivering professional library services. With over 25 years of experience, the company is known for its expertise in handling complex and unique projects. Backstage specializes in solutions for cataloging, authority control, digitization, preservation microfilm, and on-site needs. In providing services to more than a thousand libraries, large and small, public and private, and in locations across the globe, Backstage has cultivated an understanding of libraries, their mission, their operations, and the challenges they face. Backstage offices are located in Provo, Utah, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


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