Posts Tagged ‘catalog’

A question for the ages

September 29, 2011 Leave a comment

AutoCat (yes, I still lurk about), recently chatted about author birth dates in the authority file and then into the MARC Bibliographic 100 tag, subfield d. You can read the conversation by going to the AutoCat archives for the 4th week of September and looking at the string “Objection to author’s birth year” (I think you will need to register for AutoCat to read it).

I have found the thread fascinating. I can understand the author not wishing easy access to information that could be used in identity theft. Heck, as I accumulate years I really understand not wanting my age readily known (but still want birthday presents, thanks).

The, ahem, “discussion” began with a request from an author to remove her birth information from the files. The individual receiving the request could not do it and thus asked on the list. Then it began. “Everything is already out on the ‘net”. “Information is needed to differentiate names”. For each statement, a counterpoint is posted. OK, actually many, many counter points (we catalogers are not silent…on list servs).

I like Mary Mastraccio’s remarks and the idea of using perhaps “active” date instead. That is, the dates in which the author was most prolific. When I’m looking for other works by an author, I usually am searching for the author, genre, and within the same basic time frame (that is, not 20+ years apart – Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City excepted, of course).

Someone else noted using a pseudonym would “solve” the problem. Uhm, not really. Not only are current ‘anonymous’ authors outed regularly.  Then there was the Diana episode of History Detectives in which the solution was found at the Library of Congress card catalog (am I the only one who’d like to go spend a day roaming thru those cards?).

What is going to happen as we have more robust Authority Files? Gender? Physical Address? Family Information and more – look at the new RDA enhanced fields. Is Occupation needed in all cases? My friend, the brilliant Lucy A. Snyder, is a award winning author but her day job is really not relevant to her writing.  Is it useful to the user? Or should we do as some suggest, record it but use it only in the background to link to authorized versions of the name?

If authority files only worked like they are supposed to…but I’ve nattered about that plenty already.

Wales = Brilliant Librarians + Digitization

June 11, 2010 2 comments

Have you seen this “A Librarian Takes on Google Books“*? It is just brilliant on so many levels:

  • librarians not just recognizing the need but taking action
  • non-librarians seeing the worth of the project
  • purchasing and utilizing appropriate technology
  • quality AND quantity being considered and acted upon

Best of all? This near the end of the blog entry:

The librarian believes he has found a new cause for his profession, to give a secure home to digitized texts produced with the highest quality standards and available freely to all. “These are huge benefits,” he says, “and should be fought for by all of those who care about unimpeded public access to knowledge.”

I think Andrew Green is my new hero (then again, I haven’t yet seen what he is doing about metadata).

*Please note, the idea of the Google Book project is lovely.  Let’s get everything so everyone can access it.  The issues involved in such an endeavor are incredibly complex (from copyright to access to cost to quality and beyond).  I admire the ideal but am not enamored with the reality. For your edification, Library Journal has published a list of links regarding the topic. You can also just search for tons of for/against articles, blogs, etc.

an ILS for the future (and the future is NOW)

June 9, 2010 3 comments

Ivy, Diane, Ana, and a variety of posts found on other blogs … they’re all making me think and giving me new things to read [and I thank them].  Diane pointed me to an article by Kristin Antelman “Identifying the Serial Work as a Bibliographic Entity,” Library Resources & Technical Services, 48:4 (2004) and we discussed it via email a bit which started me on a new bend in my mind. Follow along!

So – I’ve discussed changing MARC and ranted about changing now and lots of other stuff.  Last night I had a thought whilst brushing my teeth (what, doesn’t your mind wander?), why can’t libraries have a system similar to how Amazon works?  And, I use Amazon because they have a huge variety of things for sell (unlike Borders or Barnes & Noble which are also quite excellent for their products).  You can find both professional and non-professional reviews of any item sold at Amazon. You can find details on the items themselves, in many cases you can even ‘sample’ the wares.

So – what if we have books, journals/magazines, videos, music, etc. etc. all in the same catalog.  We allow the patron to choose where they wish to search OR if they want to search the whole kit-n-kaboodle [breaking the results into the groupings]. We link things – “you searched X title which is #4 in Y series, do you wish to see the series?” or “you searched B movie which is based on C book, do you wish to see the book?” etc. and etc. Either noting whether or not the library has X or C in the collection or perhaps noting you can get X or C via ILL (or even purchase is commercial purposes are allowed by your local governing body) or perhaps just showing what is available at that library – it should be flexible to allow the librarians to make that decision. Huh. Even as I type this my mind is exploding with possibilities.

Some ILS are already doing the groupings bit – providing the results in groups of format for the patrons to determine if they were looking for a video or a book or a sound recording or whatever. Some are also making the links and allowing for reviews to be added/searched/read.  Brilliant! We’re just a hop, skip, and a jump away! 

One key, I think, is getting our data in usable format. Getting ALL data into usable format. Standardizing input across the lands. Maybe an ISO is needed. Read more about my epiphany on this in several posts start with MARC and machine readability (revisited) and move on from there.

Another key would be getting the various publishers, vendors, jobbers, etc. to agree to allow taking their data into the BIG database rather than using their propriety searching. Or maybe we could link in via our catalog to their database. This would have to be worked out. I tend to think, in my cynical way, the insertion of their data into our system would not be permitted. It’s all about $$$ baby.

Huh. I wonder if Amazon uses an off-the-shelf system or home-made. Betcha we could adapt is to our needs…

Categories: catalog Tags: , , ,


May 20, 2010 Leave a comment

A couple of weeks ago Ana discussed privacy Mixed Reviews, Creating your Online Identity, and Follow-ups and Web 3.0, Facebook, Privacy, Identity Control on May 6 (it won’t let me link direct). Then another friend (hey Jon!) pointed me to It May As Well Be On the Front Page of the NYT.

So, what does this have to do with the library? I’m so glad you asked!  Librarian creed is steeped in things like ‘get the patron the information desired’ and ‘keep the patron’s information private’.  In fact, most automation systems will automatically ‘delete’ patron checkout records once the item is returned. We do not record who looked up something, just that something was looked up. Read what ALA has to say about about issues involved with the USA Patriot Act (or search [insert preferred search engine here]  the topic “libraries and the patriot act” and find tons of information)

Have you ever heard of a little ol’online bookstore called “Amazon“? They do a remarkable thing – they allow their customers to review the books [and lots of other stuff] and post those reviews for the world to see.  Wow! I can see what others thought before I purchase the book! Cool! 

Now to the catalog, given that we librarians are vehemently against divulging the patron’s information how the heck could we add this in? Perhaps we could take a note from Evergreen which allows patrons to opt-in on retaining their borrowing history AND allows them to post reviews on materials. I do like that Evergreen does not automatically open up the patron’s record but that the patron must flip that switch. 

Of course I cannot discuss adding reviews without bringing up Tim Spalding and LibraryThingLibraryThing for Libraries can provide the LibraryThing reviews for the titles in your catalog AND allow your patrons to add reviews. Check it out, pretty cool stuff.

One big difference needs to be noted here, on social networking sites it is very easy to hide your identity. You can set up an email address for your pseudonym. In a library, where you have to show proof of identity to obtain a library card (and thus access their system), you do not have that anonymity.

I guess it comes down to, does the library decide for the patron with regards to privacy OR should the library allow the patrons to determine privacy for themselves?


Categories: catalog, privacy Tags: ,


January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

This post was updated/changed May 2011 to reflect my career change from a full time trainer to …. not a full time trainer 😀

Some times things just seem self-evident to me and thus I am surprised when it is not to others.


–adjective evident in itself without proof or demonstration; axiomatic
Origin:  1665–75
Synonyms: obvious, self-explanatory.

Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2010.

Then someone else rises up with an alternative view and I realize I didn’t know nearly as much as I thought.

I am a  librarian. I have worked in all sorts of library types (special, academic, medical, public) and in all sorts of positions (reference, circulation, ILL, serials, automation, cataloging, etc.), I’ve even worked for vendors.

Over the years I’ve learned quite a bit and realize that there is even more to know and synthesize. I love teaching – I enjoy when a student ‘gets’ a hard concept.  I’ve found, though, that I enjoy even more the challenge of learning new things from the others in the world.

At the time I started this blog, I was a trainer for technical services with special emphasis  in the basics of cataloging. When I first started that particular job I thought “well, this will be easy – cataloging is practically second nature to me”.  Then I did my first class. Huh.  I hadn’t realized.  There is a lot to this cataloging thing. Since then I have moved on to another position but still am “in the game” and planning to continue my life long goal of learning EVERYTHING I CAN. Stick around, I will.

I’ve created this blog to explore the concepts. To express what I see as the way of the world. I’m going to get it wrong sometimes (and right too!). I am going to be vehement at times then realize that I was seeing only the tail of the elephant and not the entire animal. I will point it out when I figure it out. Feel free to point me too (in a constructive way please, snarky isn’t the goal here). Agree or disagree at your leisure.

Oh, and this is my blog. Not my employer’s. MmmKay?