Posts Tagged ‘cataloging’

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: , ,

Sharing is

April 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Sharing is what we do. It is a major part of The Profession – all librarians share, catalogers/metadata specialists are exceptionally good at sharing. I guess those years in kindergarten were not a waste [grin]

Who else read/participated in the recent CILIP CIG Forum? CILIP is Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals and CIG is the Cataloguing and Indexing Group. If you missed their brilliant forum April 18-19, 2011, you can get a summary of the discussion. I urge you to go read it.

Wow. You guys at CILIP/CIG are great! I’ve been in a fair few forums in my life, and of late several to do with RDA. However, this forum impressed me most of all. Why? Sharing. The suggestions and ideas in this forum are lovely, Anne Welsh made quite a bit of sense and stir with her suggestions for training on RDA. I do hope they are brought to fruition. I’ve volunteered to help in any way I can and hope others do as well.

Here are some of the ideas:

1. Let’s ask publishers to provide scans of the information we’d use to catalog materials in RDA. For books, perhaps the cover, title page (and verso), spine, and a bit of information about the book. One cataloger on the list offered to contact her music publisher to get similar for scores.

2. Let’s take those scans and create records based on RDA – putting these records up on a public site with the scans for all to use to help educate. I’m hoping that with involvement internationally, we could perhaps have not just the RDA record but also AACR2, Dublin Core, and all current standards represented to show how each moved to RDA.

3. Let’s do some more training online and more materials available for trainers to utilize in-house.   Seems I recall reading that when AACR went to AACR2, there were bands of trainers roaming the land providing training wherever they went.  With the online capabilities of today, we could eliminate or reduce that need to travel.  There are a plethora of lovely open source options out there for online classrooms (Moodle anyone?). My hope is they do this in little sound bit type sessions – that is, a nice series of 1 to 2 hour sessions that cover a very specific part of RDA. Again, it would be great to have all standards represented and available to grab and listen to the recording as needed. These could be live sessions (always great because of the questions and give/take possible) or just recorded vidcasts. Or both.

The Library of Congress already has many of these things for RDA, including the great AACR2 to RDA examples, but we could expand this!  Barbara Tillett’s absolutely fantastic webcasts are there as are other training sessions but why not add more for other standards, etc.? I mean, actual recorded classes. I’m not asking Library of Congress to do this, I think we should do it, us, the catalogers. I think we  can.

If everyone takes a small part, it becomes doable. It becomes easily sharable. It becomes us.


November 18, 2010 Leave a comment

On the OCLC-Cat list for November 2010 there have been several posts of interest. Let’s look at some, shall we?

First, let’s look at Wojciech Siemaszkiewicz’s “November 2010 Memorandum Against RDA Test” from November 2, 2010. In this post, Wojciech instructs OCLC:

Immediately suspend coding the test RDA records as acceptable records and recode them as substandard records with a code “RDA” (no PCC, LC, etc. coding should be allowed on these records). The encoding level for these records should be “K”, which usually triggers a full review of the record by highly trained technical assistants or professional catalogers. The LC records should be coded as level “7”. The RDA test records should be treated the same way as records coded with Spanish, French, German, etc. codes. This would allow catalogers to create parallel records for 040 English records according to existing and widely accepted AACR2 rules. Under no circumstances should RDA testers be allowed to create conflicting NAF or SAF records in LCNAF or LCSAF. This has already created a great deal of confusion and has been universally rejected by catalogers involved in the discussion.

We instruct agencies responsible for the RDA test to instruct its testers to follow above mentioned rules as a way to avoid workflow complications and growing confusion in libraries around the world.

We understand that the RDA test is just a test and in no way is an indicative to a future cataloging procedures and rules that would replace universally accepted AACR2 rules

Subsequent posts include a November 3, 2010 “Petition to support Wojciech’s memorandum” created by cataloging managers at Indiana University, Bloomington. The link to the petition is

The discussions on both threads have been fascinating. This culminates in a November 16, 2010 post “Update on the Petition to Support Memorandum on OCLC’s RDA Testing”. Another very interesting read.

On November 17, 2010 a post appeared cross-posted to several lists “US RDA Test and OCLC”. This does not directly address the Memorandum or Petition postings but certainly it seems to be aimed at them.

What I find interesting, in reading all of this, is that the idea is no duplications should be allowed in the OCLC database. I understand and applaud this. However (you knew that was coming, right?), why is it considered a duplication when we already have “parallel” records?

Parallel records? What’s that?? Check out OCLC Technical Bulletin 250: Parallel Records. Starting back in October 2003 OCLC began to allow “parallel records within WorldCat by language of cataloging”. Huh? OK, let me break this down for you. If I, in my little library in anywhere, USA, catalog the latest James Patterson using my AACR2 (or whatever) rules then add it to the OCLC database as the first bibliographic record ever to describe the book then it exists and others can use it, right? OK, now a few days (or weeks) later a cataloger in Spain catalogs that very same James Patterson book and also adds it to the OCLC database. Duplicate? NO!! Parallel record!

The key is the subfield b of the 040.  This is the “language of the cataloging”.  According to OCLC Bibliographic Formats and Standards:

Identifies the language for those portions of the record, which according to cataloging rules, appear in the language of the cataloging agency (e.g., notes). Subfield ‡b is in records created by libraries for which English is not the language of the cataloging agency.

Huh. So basically this is to accommodate the different rules and language of different countries.  Why then can we not have AACR2 records and RDA records?

Perhaps I’m missing something but that seems to be the same concept…or am I being blonde again?

Categories: aacr2, catalog, cataloging, OCLC, RDA Tags: , , ,

RB: Cataloging, a career of fun!

October 20, 2010 6 comments

I’m not really RT (Re-Tweeting) but I guess I’m RB (Re-Blogging)? 

Cataloging is an awesome career choice!  Christine Schwartz of Cataloging Futures posted “Cataloging, the cool job” linking to two great posts about being a cataloger. Smithsonian Special Collections Cataloger Diane Shaw’s “What It’s Like to Be a Cataloger” is fantastic. The comments add to the discussion and expand into library school information. Christine also points out an article by Richard A. Murray, The Whimsy of Cataloging – which made me want to go work at Duke (I can already sing all the parts to “The Lonely Goatherd”!).

And to help you in interviews to obtain this cool career, Laurel Tarulli of The Cataloguing Librarian posted “Interviewing for a Cataloguing Position: The Two-way Street”“. Brilliant information and don’t neglect the comments – even if I did post something that reads as patronizing, I didn’t mean it to be! I meant more along the lines of even when you think you have researched everything before you go for the interview, be sure to look at these and have some good, targeted questions on hand to ask your interviewers.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

336, 337, 338

September 28, 2010 2 comments

Or, the RDA types Content, Media and Carrier.

In my last post, Systems and Cataloging, Céline and Jason had some quite wonderful and thought provoking things to say. Go on, go read it and don’t neglect the comments this time!

Céline says what I have heard previously (she also says new stuff and states all quite beautifully), that is RDA is geared to separate the rules from the format. MARC is the format whereas AACR2/RDA are the rules. AACR2 bleeds into MARC (or vice-versa) quite a bit and part of the purpose of RDA is to separate the rules from the format.

Except, of course, that it doesn’t. Did you see the title of this post? Are you a cataloger? Your mind went immediately to MARC and the new fields.  Except these are really RDA elements (attributes?) shoved into new MARC fields. Guess what? Many already refer to them as 336, 337, and 338 instead of  “Content, Media, and Carrier types” . This will continue to happen so long as we have MARC. It is the nomenclature of cataloging and has been for quite some time. Vocabulary is quite a powerful thing.

It’s easier to say “245” than “title and statement of responsibility”.  We (that is, catalogers) tend to use the tags to describe whatever rule OR field we’re working in. Jason did it in his comment – he talked about the Desc which is what OCLC calls the 000 (or ‘leader’) position 18. He didn’t say “the descriptive rules utilized to create the cataloging record.” I do the very same thing.

I know we want to separate the rules from the format but it ain’t gonna happen whilst we still talk about it all using MARC tags or OCLC labels instead of the actual name of the type, attribute or element.

And please know, I am not dissin’ MARC. I rather like MARC. I like that I know MARC, I like that is it easy for me as a cataloger to determine what MARC field has what information and where to record the information I gather about the item I am cataloging. But I do recognize MARC has outlived it’s usefulness. When the majority of libraries stopped using cards, MARC was fairly outdated and continued to be so. I know there are better ways to record the information we currently record in MARC – heck I can look at ANY database program and see so much more is available because of the way the data is recorded.

However, I think that until the ILS, Systems folk and catalogers all get on board and all together we create a new place to put the information … well, I just don’t see the change a’comin.  I hope I’m wrong (and I probably am, I’m truly not that bright).

Psst…if you wandered on this post looking for information on how to use the 336, 337, and 338, go on over to the Library of Congress MARC Standards for the 3xx fields. Honestly you should just go ahead and bookmark the Library of Congress MARC Standards page for reference in the future…

Systems and Cataloging

September 26, 2010 15 comments

Recently I blogged a wee bit about RDA on the web and digressed into a “systems versus cataloging” paragraph or two. Céline commented

 I have recently started having some thoughts/conversations where I definitely see a crucial disconnect between systems and cataloguing, sadly.

Tis true, both “crucial” and “sadly”.    This is not a recent disconnect. It has been there quite a long time. Systems do not always understand MARC and Catalogers do not always know how to program. Some do though, on both sides, which gives me hope.

Jason Thomale’s article in the recent Code4Lib, Interpreting MARC: Where’s the Bibliographic Data?, is a wonderful place to start to see how the Systems person “sees” cataloging.  It is clear as you read the article that Jason did not understanding how MARC worked, the interdependencies, the meanings of the fields/subfields (and the ‘common’ interpretations versus the actual definitions) when he first created algorithms to search the catalog.  He did a marvelous job, his thinking was sound and he tried (which is more than many will ever do). He concludes acknowledging that his knowledge initially was lacking and thus problems occurred in his algorithms.

Back in a library I worked in (name shielded to protect the innocent), the previous cataloger had insisted that keyword searching should only search the 6XX tags. OMG. Really? Yes. Really. When I came aboard in cataloging (to replace said cataloger) I was told the online catalog was basically worthless and not really utilized. I discovered the search problem and worked with Systems to repair the search algorithms. Our hit rate hit the roof (well, in comparison to previously).

Catalogers and Systems need to work together to ensure the best possible searches are executed. Catalogers need to learn how to explain MARC to Systems and Systems needs to understand the Cataloger can help.

So – how will RDA help us make better catalogs? Can anyone explain that to me? I’m seriously lost on how changing the cataloging rules will help the ILS get better.

To err is human…

May 19, 2010 1 comment

Mistakes. They happen. Even the catalogers make mistakes [heresy!]

In most cases, the cataloger is ignored unless something is WRONG (spine label crooked? subject heading askew? classification not as it should be? then we must lecture, er, inform) but when right? When it works well? Nothing is said (“Gosh Carol, great job on adding that 246 for the Americanized spelling of ‘color’ in the UK-centric title” OR “Wow Carol, brilliant subject headings on such a complex item!” Uh huh, not so much).

I’ve seen it on The Lists (AutoCat, OCLC-Cat, etc.). When some cataloger or another has input a record with an error or several errors, another cataloger might just point out the errors on the list … just to be helpful, mind. I’m trying to recall any instance of “Good job!” on any of these lists but failing miserably. They probably just send a PM to the individual rather than the list.

In the end though, does it really matter? Can’t we fix the problem and move along? If it is a reoccurring problem then it needs to be addressed but a one-off? Really? You need to take me to task because I put the \ instead of the / on a single record out of the bunch?

*psst, no I was not fussed at for any of these but I am aware this happens and keenly aware the cataloger is only noticed when a problem occurs or budget cuts are coming…

Categories: cataloging Tags: , ,