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Green, green grass

April 11, 2012 1 comment

When I was quite young and in training for something that has benefited me my entire life, Mom tells me I used bring my “special chair” out of the training room and into the living room so I wouldn’t miss anything.  This has not changed. Oh wait, no I do not bring my “special chair” into the living room but I do hate to miss anything.

For me, the grass is always green. I don’t mean greener but just green – different shades of green, all very appealing.  I love what I have but I also want to experience that stuff over there and OH! Look over there! How cool! I want to do that too! Wait a minute, what’s that? Oh yes please, can I do that too?

I’ve been struggling to learn patience – to enjoy the bird in my hand and not also envy the other birds.  I cannot be everywhere at once. I cannot do everything. I have to pick and choose. And I love what I choose (generally).  I tend to find the joy or happiness in whatever it is – at least, I try to find it (sometimes it can be difficult). At the same time, however, I want to go do X Y or Z as well.

What I am saying is – there are lots of very cool things happening in our world. To RDA or not to RDA, to MARC or not to MARC, to Cloud or not to Cloud and the development of each of these (and their accessories – FRBR, FRAD,etc.). I want to know it all and do it all!  Instead I am watching and listening (sometimes from afar) and trying to keep up with all the cool stuff.  I am so happy to know there are such great people involved in all of these things – and that they patiently share their expeditions and forays into the uncharted world.

Keep it up guys. It may seem at times that you are swimming upstream and in a deep abyss but there are lots of us out here. Watching. Listening. Eagerly learning from you.

Categories: cataloging, frbr, marc, RDA Tags: , ,

Aha at ALA MW

January 30, 2012 Leave a comment

I had an “Aha” moment at ALA MW. There I was, sitting and listening to the Big Heads of Technical Services (no, really, that’s what it is called), when suddenly my brain began to function. Let’s see it if works in essay form.

I believe I have seen the future – the bigger picture – the reason for the seemingly meaningless changes. We are moving completely away from the traditional ILS (or the more hip acronym LMS), Discovery models, ERM, etc.  That, we are hoping to merge all these different systems all built for specific purposes into one system (with modules, scalability, etc. etc.). This makes perfect sense.

Copy cataloging began as a way to share so each library did not have to “reinvent the wheel“. We developed ILS to manage all (at the time) known aspects of the library: Cataloging, Acquisitions, Circulation, and the good ol’OPAC. This made life oh so much easier as we hooked all the areas together.

Along came CD-ROM and, eventually, online databases. Vendors have completely separate systems we learn to manage. Perhaps we added the acquisitions portion to our traditional ILS and maybe, just maybe, some added aspects to their catalog but in general, these are considered separate from ILS. We have separate Admin, separate search, separate statistics, etc. Oh yes, we piddled around with something called “federated search” to enable a user to search across all databases. It didn’t work too well and many felt burned by the experience (thus we now call the same concept “Discovery”).

As we began collecting more e-resources, we needed an easy way to provide access. It quickly became apparent the traditional ILS catalog would not suit – too much information too fast and rapidly changing. Thus began the, oh how to say without using proprietary product names? A product that allows a long alphabetic listing of e-resource specific titles. This product allows the user to click on a specific title to see the contents and read/print/email particular articles from the list of contents. This is yet another system to manage in the library.

As e-journals and packages began Big Deals, we added ERM to our arsenal of management tools. We needed somewhere to store things like license agreements, ILL information, title lists, etc.

Are you counting? We’re up to at least four different systems to use.  I may have skipped a few steps in our evolution – this is a blog, not a scholarly paper, I’m allowed.

Back to my aha moment…why are we fooling around with things like RDA and a new MARC (or, as Beecher Wiggins termed in the Big Heads meeting, Bibliographic Framework Transition) or the newly coined Web Scale Management? Well to merge all these varying systems together  – to have one place to put our acquisitions information and it share along appropriately. For one place to search, and it searches all appropriate areas. For one ‘catalog’ in which everything collected (physical or ephemeral) by the library is noted.

Awesome.

FRBR-y things

March 29, 2011 Leave a comment

The more I look at FRBR, the more I recognize how it relates to the world at large. I see, or at least I think I do, FRBR-y type ideas everywhere.

For example, I remember when Amazon was just for books. I remember when searching Amazon you’d get a list of results and each result was a different edition or publication or a format (sort of like our bibliographic records today).  Somewhere along the line Amazon changed. I don’t know exactly when it happened but it happened. Now if you search Amazon for a book, the first result you get lists the basics about the book (work level) and has links to the paperback edition (manifestation), hardback edition (manifestation), first edition (expression), second edition (expression), audio versions (expression), etc. They’re showing their WEMI. This, to me, is FRBRized.

Relationships also matter in FRBR – it’s not all about the WEMI. Whether it is the same (equivalent) or similar in subject (shared-characteristic), the relationships are being brought out in search in almost every commercial site out there – we are given the ‘answers’ but also ways to easily explore it further.

Search Home Depot to find a bathtub. You get a list of results then options to further limit the search. Hmm. Sounds very much like what Evergreen and VTLS and other ILS are beginning to do – the search results hit the middle of the screen and on the left is a column of different ways to limit the search down – to focus it to electronic books, or by a list of authors, or subjects, or whatever. This, to me, is FRBRized.

Users are seeking this type of search. They are used to this type of search and want it everywhere – I don’t blame them, I like it myself. I do not think user behavior changes in FRBR – I think it is exactly as it has always been. Start looking for something, try to identify that something, choose that something and get that something. This is true whether it is in a catalog or a database or a website or a grocery store – Find, Identify, Select and Obtain.

FRBR does seem to be everywhere – or rather, the ideas behind FRBR.  FRBR is specific to Bibliographic records (thus the acronym), that is, what we call FRBR/WEMI etc. in libraryland has different names in the outside world but really the ideas are universal. So it seems to me.

Categories: frbr Tags:

I get it [RDA]

February 25, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s been, oh, about 4 years since I first heard of RDA. I read, I reviewed, I tried to comprehend.  The ideas of FRBR came naturally to me, learning the terminology took a bit longer but I understood the concepts.  RDA, not so much.

I disremember what I read initially but it has taken me four years to really understand. The idea of RDA is really to change the vocabulary and the way we think of cataloging. That is, instead of looking at it from an item perspective and starting with format as we do with AACR2, with RDA we look at the individual bits of data (name, title, etc.) and link them together. It is sort of cataloging by reverse engineering. I wish I could have seen more clearly 4 years ago but it took hearing from Shana (comments on Why RDA then in why RDA, revisited) as well as recent discussion on RDA-L, NGC4LIB, etc. which explicitly stated this – thanks everyone!

So, I understand RDA – at least, I think I do. The actual changes (such as rule of three, GMD, etc.) are not tremendous and truly, as things are, will not make a huge impact (other than work load perhaps).  However, the idea is the future – when MARC21 is gone and we use a new input;  when the ILS begin to program to the new rules/ideals; when other industries might also pick up RDA and use it as a standard – this is when the real change occurs.

The very difficult thing right now is trying to force new concepts into the old molds. Pushing and shoving RDA into MARC21. Trying to get the ILS to change, drastically change, the way they program their cataloging modules. Having other communities (Publishers, Museums, etc.) adopt and understand the RDA rules.

It seems to me, to make this whole thing work – EVERYONE has to buy in and make the change. The format too – MARC21 has to go. Will that happen? I don’t know. The world’s largest bibliographic database is wedded to MARC21 – can that be changed? How much will it cost? How much will it cost us all?

Categories: aacr2, cataloging, frbr, marc, RDA Tags: , ,

RDA, AutoCat, FRBR and MARC

October 19, 2010 1 comment

This last week AutoCat has had a lovely discussion on “Displaying Work/Expression/Manifestation Records” (look for that subject in the archives for Week 2 & 3 October 2010).

The entire discussion is well worth reading but I am going to focus on a quote from Mike Tribby’s post on Tuesday, October 12, 2010 8:31 AM

“And I think that Karen Coyle is absolutely correct when she states that we need to develop a data format. That seems a much better goal than a restatement of rules for cataloging content with arbitrary rules that simply replace other arbitrary rules.”

Exactly. We’re putting the cart in front of the horse. 

I like rules. I am a cataloger, I like rules and organization and structure. It’s really a part of my nature (do you write lists? organize your closet? you too could be a cataloger…or an accountant). If RDA passes the USA National Library test come Spring 2011, I’ll move to using it.  Well, that is if my ILS allows it and if I can afford it.

However, I think that perhaps not having a new format (to replace the venerable MARC) first or in conjunction, we are setting up future problems and angst. MARC is cataloging. I’ve discussed this before, many times. MARC is the language of cataloging. MARC is not only the backbone but the entire fleshed out being of cataloging in today’s world.

As Karen Coyle, and many others, have pointed out MARC is not as flexible as it should be to allow true linking and re-use of data. I’ve discussed this too (when I had my epiphany). I was a hard sell on replacing MARC. If you look at my earlier posts I obviously do not get it but I do now and agree it needs to be brought into this century (you can still call it “MARC” if you want).

In order for the lovely linking that is desired with FRBR and RDA, we need to redesign how we record our data. I’m not talking about “should we abbreviate or spell it out” or “rule of three” but the actual nitty gritty of the input and code.  And don’t get me started on the whole thing about catalogers in 2010 having to know to put a “4” in the second indicator of the 245 when the title proper begins with “the”! I have raged against that machine previously.

So I repeat myself. We need to get Systems, Catalogers, and ILS vendors together. Lock’em in a room and don’t let them out until they Build It. Maybe we can continue with what Karen Coyle has already begun.

Categories: cataloging, frbr, marc, RDA, systems Tags: , , ,

MARC, FRBR and a whole new world

April 20, 2010 5 comments

I was reading the latest posts on the NGC4LIB list and various posts on Planet Cataloging (specifically Bibliographic Wilderness’s posts “And more on software data formats” & “Of MARC, serialization formats and element schemata” as well as various posts on First Thus). Then, I listened again to the “Implications of MARC Tag Usage on Library Metadata” session on the OCLC Webinars (you can get the PDF transcript or listen to the .wav). It is an excellent session discussing what MARC tags are actually utilized by most ILS.  And my mind slipped sideways.

Recently after a very basic copy cataloging course, a student asked me if it was ok if she added the electronic version of an item to the bibliographic record for the print, even when they are not exactly the same edition.  This is not the first time this question has come up and I doubt it will be the last.  I told her that technically, no. This is not sanctioned by The Powers That Be.  However, if it works in her library catalog and the patrons like it and the other librarians like it – why not?  I emphasized that this would be a Big No-No if she was adding the record to OCLC or selling it but if it is in her library, in her catalog, she can do whatever she needs to do to help her patrons – this is pretty much the point of the catalog. Make it easier for the patrons to find information.  I suggested (strongly) she note down why this was being done and have some data element to easily find those bibliographic records again so that if things change in the future, it can be modified or changed as necessary (always document for the next person coming down the pike – you are not going to be there forever and why make future workers lives difficult?)

As I wrote above, this is not the first time I’ve had this question. I usually end up confessing that at my previous library I did this  too. It was something all the librarians discussed and determined to do – and the patrons loved it. Usage of the electronic as well as print went way up too. Oh, and before the steam rises from your ears, we made clear which was which edition and/or year.

At ALA  …oh gosh, was it 2008 Anaheim or 2009 Chicago? Hmm. At an ALA session in the recent few years (I think it was 2008 Anaheim), John Estes from VTLS stood up and spoke of “super” records. It was the most brilliant thing I’d heard from an established ILS in a very long time. He demonstrated how they basically ‘bumped’ up the generic data that applied across all instances of an item and then hooked the non-generic information to it in a cool way.  To put it in FRBR terms, they create an Expression then hook the Manifestations to it (with the Items hooked to the Manifestations). BRILLIANT! This would solve the dilemma of ‘how do I connect my electronic and print versions into one record?’.

Back to the recent posts on NGC4LIB list and First Thus, librarians are being creative. They are trying to fill the needs they see in the best possible way using the only tools they have. Yes, there will always be those who sit back and deny the world is round but I guarantee the trenches are filled with librarians who want to sail around the world.

Categories: frbr, marc Tags: ,