In recent decades Pinyin has become the prevailing romanization system of the Chinese language in many parts of the world. The system is now widely used by many governments, the United Nations, and most of the world media. The Library of Congress, OCLC and RLG have been working on their conversion projects since 1997. The HKUST Library recognizes the need for this change and the advantage of using the Pinyin romanization, which will certainly enhance users' access to Chinese materials. To prepare for the conversion, a preliminary computer program was developed in March 1999. In January 2000, the University Librarian, Ms Minmin Chang, appointed a task force, consisting of K. T. Lam, Sun Zehua, Philip Wong, and Louisa Kwok (Chair), to plan and manage the Conversion Project. The purpose of the Project was to convert the Wade-Giles romanizations in our cataloging records into Pinyin before 1 October 2000.
With the exception of some personal names that would retain their existing forms, all bibliographic and authority records in our Catalog that had Wade-Giles romanization were converted into Pinyin. They included Chinese records as well as non-Chinese records. All the records that were created for Acquisitions, Reserve, Special Collections, Theses, etc. were also converted.
We decided not to change retrospectively the Cuttering to reflect the change of romanization because that would result in the large scale re-labeling and re-shelving of materials. We started to follow LC's change in Cuttering from 1 October 2000.
Tasks and Timeline
The Conversion is carried out in 3 phases:
The conversion project was automated as much as possible by computer programs that were developed by our Systems staff. Our plan was to finish Phase I before the start of Fall Semester 2000 so that our users would not be too inconvenienced. Phase II and III would be done after we received converted authority records for personal names from OCLC.
Although much of the conversion would be done by computer programs, it was anticipated that we would need a lot of manpower to review records that had multiple conversions. In order to finish the conversion as soon as possible, we decided that all Cataloging staff would take part in the review process. Although the Chinese Monographs Team was more familiar with Chinese records and the Pinyin romanization system, we believed that this conversion process would be a good opportunity for members of other cataloging teams to get more familiar with the Pinyin system. To prepare them for conducting the review, a seminar on the Pinyin romanization scheme and a training session on the procedures of the review process were organized before the conversion. In total, 5 librarians and 12 support staff shared the reviewing workload. This staffing arrangement had enabled us to complete Phase I of the Conversion within two months.