A research query came to the IOE recently which validated our belief that the most important thing when cataloguing the OEM-UK exam papers was to capture the title and subject for every exam as outlined in my post Professional cataloguing the OEM-UK way.
A team from Cambridge University has been commissioned by the Department for Education to conduct research into the examination of Greek and Latin in state schools since 1918 in preparation for the changes to the way ‘ancient foreign languages’ are to be taught as outlined in The Importance of Teaching – The Schools White Paper.
The IOE Library has the largest collection of examination papers in the UK so it was natural that the Cambridge researchers would come to us. However most of the exam papers remain uncatalogued, hence the importance of the OEM-UK methodology to the IOE as a possible way for us to catalogue such an important collection.
A colleague contacted me and in seconds, using Drupal, I had found the details of every Latin and Greek examination catalogued for the OEM-UK project.
However in order to find the Greek and Latin exams not catalogued in OEM-UK a team of 3 researchers had to travel to London and spend 7 days sitting in our closed access area looking through every box containing post-1918 examinations.
Even those exams that have been catalogued the traditional way had to be physically searched as the LMS records do not contain any details on individual exams (such as title or subject).
Once we roll out the OEM-UK methodology and catalogue the rest of the exam papers we will be able to fulfill research requests such as this remotely in seconds; saving research teams (and the public bodies funding the research) time and money, and surfacing a resource of national importance.