Thursday, May 22, 2008

CE for TS

There are lots of Continuing Education workshops for Technical Services people at all levels scheduled for the summer. Here’s a quick list. You can register for these or any other CE programs by going to the CMRLS website and clicking on "Continuing Education Classes" on the right-hand side under the word EVENTS.

Thursday, June 12, 10 a.m. at CMRLS. Digital Treasures in your Library: Overview & Update – Whether or not your library is participating in Digital Treasures, you can learn more about the project and the multiple ways it can benefit your library.

Wednesday, July 9, 10 a.m. at the Thayer Library in Lancaster. Read Along with MARC: How to read a MARC record – Intended for copy catalogers and new catalogers who want a better understanding of what all those numbers and symbols mean.

Thursday, July 17, 1:30 p.m. at CMRLS. Cataloging Electronic Resources – Every day, catalogers in academic and research libraries are faced with new and complicated media. Here’s a way to cope.

Wednesday, August 6, 10:00 a.m. at the Learning Resources Center at Worcester State College, The Ever-Evolving World of Serials: Serials Roundtable - The chance for Serials Catalogers to share their joys and sorrows with each other.

Thursday, August 14, 10:00 a.m. at CMRLS. Must-See Sites for Technical Services – An exploration of websites geared to Technical Services librarians and staff and a chance to share your favorites with others.

So get out your calendar and plan to spend some time honing your Tech Services knowledge and skills.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

MLA, RDA and the Future

I spent four stimulating days in Falmouth at the Mass Library Association Conference from May 6-9 which included a Pre-Conference on The Future of the ILS (Integrated Library System). My two favorite programs were the Keynote Speaker David Weinberger of Everything is Miscellaneous fame and Diane Hillmann who spoke on The Emerging Cataloging Future: RDA, DCMI, and the Semantic Web. I actually skipped a program called Learn, Laugh and Let Go: A Comic Stress Management Program with mime Robert Rivest to listen to Diane Hillmann. While I’m sorry I missed the mime, I’m not at all sorry I heard Ms Hillmann explain how RDA (Resource Description and Access) is intended to work.

The key to my enlightenment during the RDA program was first listening to David Weinberger. I read Everything is Miscellaneous last summer and really enjoyed it. Mr. Weinberger does not bash traditional library classification. His point is that organizing digital objects is different from organizing physical objects which can only be in one place at any one time. When people are meandering through the web, the path is not linear. We can begin at one place, click on a link to an entirely different place and, from there, go somewhere unrelated to where we began. Blogs and websites are good examples of how people navigate on the web. Think of all of the additional information “contained” on a blog via its links. While a book may have footnotes and citations, the material cited is not actually in the book.

With that image in mind, consider RDA, the successor to AACR2. RDA is meant to be digital, so it is not linear like AARC2 or any print resource. Most of the discussion I’ve been following on AUTOCAT and other lists has focused on the rules themselves. The larger picture of RDA creates bibliographic records with links instead of actual text. The links display as text, so the end result is the same at what we’re used to seeing.

For those of you who have a name authority file embedded in your OPAC, your main (and other) entries are linked to the records in that authority file. If you change the authority record, you globally change every name attached to it. This makes life a lot easier when adding a death date, for example and also links together all titles by one specific author.

RDA goes much further. Many (most?) terms can actually be linked to an authority record which contains much more information than the term. For example, while you might see the phrase “New York”, in actuality the place of publication would be a URI to the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names. Where ever there is some sort of authority file such as LC name or subject authorities or the previously mentioned Getty Thesaurus, the person creating the bibliographic record could insert a URI rather than keying in a phrase. Then, if the viewer chose, he/she could follow that link and see the extensive information about New York contained in the authority record.

While many authority files exist, many more need to be created. An infrastructure must be built in order for RDA to work well. What a fascinating future we have ahead of us!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Thoughts on FRBR and RDA

A couple of weeks ago I attended a program at CMRLS on AACR2, RDA and FRBR. It was presented by Amy Benson, formerly of NELINET and now Archivist for Digital Initiatives at the Schlesinger Library. Amy always does a very good job. She researches her topic thoroughly and presents it with lots of humor and interesting anecdotes. This presentation was no exception.

Amy spent a lot of time laying the foundation by explaining that FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records) is a conceptual model that identifies entities, relationships, and attributes. A bibliographic entity has 4 attributes: Work, Expression, Manifestation (the equivalent of a bibliographic record) and Item (one specific, physical piece). A work entity has a reciprocal relationship with a person entity when the work was created by a person and the person created the work. There are a lot more details which were carefully mapped out with the aid of diagrams.

There has been lots of discussion on AUTOCAT and other electronic discussion lists about FRBR and RDA (Resource Description and Access). Listening to Amy’s presentation helped me solidify my own feelings towards these ideas. I strongly agree with the FRBR principles. While it may seem strange at first, FRBR is really the way we organize books and other works. We want to know if a movie with a particular title is related to a book with the same title or if an audio version of a book is exactly the book word-for-word or if it has been modified. I like the way AquaBrowser and Endeca make use of the FRBR relationships in our online catalogs. I also think it’s easier for patrons when they know that a library has a title and don’t care which edition they borrow.

However, I am really ambivalent about RDA which is intended to replace AACR2 using FRBR principles. As someone who has cataloged art objects and other non-book materials, I am well aware of AACR2’s shortcomings. Yet, it works really well for books and other print material. Can a one-size-fits-all product like RDA really do both books and websites justice? As things stand now, no one is happy with RDA. Some think is goes too far and others not far enough.

I wonder how this will all shake out. We’ll begin to find out in the spring of 2009 when RDA is due to be published. Stay tuned!