Thursday, December 31, 2009
It was rather scary at first, but I had great support from two experienced serials catalogers and I learned a lot. Soon I began looking at the process like a jigsaw puzzle - putting all of the pieces together to create a larger picture that others could recognize.
Slowly, I've been building a list of helpful sites for serials catalogers. Today, I added three more sites. They are
MARC 21 Format for Holdings Data from the Network Development and MARC Standards office of the Library of Congress;
Primer: MARC 21 Format for Holdings Data, a 24-page pamphlet in .pdf from OCLC; and
Guidelines for Recording Serial Holdings handy help from Yale University.
If you're not already familiar with these resources, I hope you find them helpful. If I were still cataloging serials, I suspect I would refer to them on a regular basis.
Do you have a favorite site that I've not yet discovered? Please let me know.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Technical Services programs scheduled are
Technical Services Roundtable, Wednesday, March 3 from 10-noon at the Jacob Edwards Library in Southbridge;
Serials Roundtable, Thursday, March 11 from 10-noon at the Webster Veterinary Library, cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Grafton;
Number, Please! Dewey Decimal Classification, Thursday, April 1 from 9:30-12:30 at the Rutland Public Library;
BISAC or Dewey: How Do You Classify Your Collection?, Tuesday, May 11 from 10-11 AM via GoToWebinar.
Other programs that are not spcifically Tech Services but which I organized are
Degunking your computer, Thursday, April 8 from 1-3 PM in the CMRLS Computer Lab;
Local History & Genealogy Roundtable, Friday March 19 from 10-noon at the Forbush Memorial Library in Westminster;
In Search of Old New England: Local History & Genealogy Field Trip to Old Deerfield, Wednesday, April 21 from 10-3;
Stress Reduction & Relaxation Techniques, Tuesday, Febrary 23 from 2-4:30 PM in the CMRLS Meeting Room.
Go to the CMRLS EventKeeper Calendar to register.
Hope to see you at a few of these programs
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Keynote speakers will be Dr. Barbara B. Tillett, Chief, Policy and Standards Division, Library of Congress and Jon Orwant, Engineering Manager for Google Books, Google Magazines, and Google Patents.
I'm no longer on the NETSL board, so I can't tell you any more about the content, but this is always a great conference, so mark you calendars. I have. After attending several of the NETSL Spring Conferences I wanted to join the NETSL board and finally had a chance 3 years ago. I'm so glad I did.
Monday, December 7, 2009
The most recent official notice says that RDA will be published in June 2010 and that pricing and purchasing information will be announced at the time of the ALA Midwinter Meeting, January15-18, 2010. Stay tuned.
There have been some updates to the catalogers pages on the CMRLS websites. They are revised whenever I learn of a new blog or site or organization. Links are removed if a blogger has not posted in a long time or a site appears to have been removed.
ACQWEB, a "gathering place for librarians and other professionals interested in acquisitions and collection development" has been added to the page Sites for Catalogers. ACQWEB has been around for many years, but has recently been redesigned and updated.
A new blog, Cataloging Thoughts, has been added to the Blogs page. Author Stephen Denney talks about his job at the University of California, Berkeley library. He explains his day-to-day responsibilities as a copy cataloger as if his audience is non-librarians - or at least non-tech services librarians. It's a very different perspective from most cataloging blogs and I like it.
How to Catalog a Hiccup has the totally opposite perspective and is aimed at experienced catalogers. Suzie DeGrasse Pocataligo chronicles her "independent study on cataloging ephemera (art, sound, people, smells, hiccups, etc.)" and only an experienced cataloger would have any idea what she's talking about. While unusual media are outnumbered by the plain old book, they take an inordinate amoun of a cataloger's time because they are unusual and we don't have lots of practice with them. In one of her earlier posts, Suzie actually supplies a MARC record for a hiccup. A more recent post is a CDWA record for a hiccup.
Next step: update my blogroll.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Now there are several and more are being created. A new one is Cataloging Thoughts based on the personal experience of Steve Denney, a library assistant at the University of California, Berkeley.
I haven't had a chance to read any of his posts, but I've added the title to my blog reader and also to the list of blogs on the Catalogers pages of the CMRLS website.
I learned about this blog through the electronic discussion list RADCAT. Blogs and discussion lists are a major way for me to keep up with what's happening in the ever changing field of cataloging.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Publisher: ALA Editions
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The book is written and edited by people whose first language is not English. I’m sure if I attempted to write even a paragraph in Spanish or French, the results would not be nearly as successful as Asoknath Mukhopadhyay’s book. Still, I found it distracting to be reading along and not have articles in places where I expect them to be, or have articles where I would not expect them. (“In early 1960s the Library of Congress … ”) Word order is sometimes a little unusual such as “Why MARC is needed when …?” since a born English-speaker would say “Why is MARC needed when …?” Like many people who have learned English as a second language, Mukhopadjyay’s vocabulary is excellent. However, his writing style is somewhat stilted or overly-scholarly sounding and requires paying careful attention. Maybe that's good.
The book has a copyright date of 2007. Details of MARC have not changed much in the last 2-3 years, but the attitude toward the format has. Mukhopadhyay’s “Wow! MARC is so great” perspective contrasts sharply with the “MARC is dead” crowd on the NGC4LIB and AUTOCAT discussion lists. Even I, a devoted fan of MARC can see that MARC is beginning to outlive its usefulness and that XML or other formats probably offer more for 21st century data transmission.
The book contains lots of URLs for further reading and research. Early on I noticed a typo: dektop. Even when I corrected it to desktop, I still received an error message. After some searching, I realized the URL was also missing a /. I found some URLs that no longer existed. I was able to locate Kyle Banergee’s Cataloging Calculator at an entirely different site. Too bad no one had left a forwarding URL when the site was moved. The 2007 publication/copyright date means there are some pieces of information that are out-of-date such as the contact information for Sagebrush Corporation which was bought out by Follett. As I found these mistakes or changes, I annotated the CMRLS copy of the book.
Guide to MARC21 does have positive points. If you need clarification of what data belongs in a particular MARC sub-field, you will likely find it in this book. Despite the typos and out-of-date URLs, this is a one-stop-shopping guide offering a wealth of information on all sorts of cataloging-related topics. There are selective lists of MARC codes, lots of examples of bib records, a list of form subdivisions, a glossary, a list of sources for MARC records and cataloging information, and information on barcodes. While there is nothing in the book that says so explicitly, the several pages of Romanization Tables for Indic Languages lead me to believe the primary market is intended to be India and adjacent countries.
Inside the back cover, there is a disc that contains cataloging software which I did not install on my computer. I think that Guide to MARC21 and its accompanying disc are intended for libraries in developing countries that don’t have Integrated Library Systems like most of the libraries with which I’m familiar. Mukhopadhyay is providing librarians there with a way to create a usable catalog and also to be able to exchange bibliographic records with the rest of the world.
Friday, October 23, 2009
I haven't had a chance to review this yet, but will soon.
In the meantime, I have lots of books on cataloging, classification, and other technical services topics in my office as part of the CMRLS professional collection. All are in the C/W MARS database and ready for use.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I've updated the Sites for Catalogers page on the CMRLS website to include some of these links. Here's a synopsis of what's been added:
- The official site of the Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA (of course);
- Two pages of links developed by MARS (nothing to do with C/W MARS) Automation Services, connected with Backstage Library Works;
- And a humorous page of links put together by the staff of the library at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown. All links are legitimate, but this is a fun and unique presentation. Check it out!
Friday, October 9, 2009
As a cataloger, however, I hope we’re not rushing too far in the Deweyless direction without taking a careful look at the entire picture. In reading the article (which I absolutely recommend – it is thoughtful and thorough) note Table 1: Why patrons have trouble finding non-fiction. These are the results of a survey by Barbara Fister, author of the LJ article. The reason with the highest percentage (68.4) is that patrons have “Trouble understanding the online catalog”. The catalog is not the classification system and I suspect this response is related to reason #3 below. The second reason (63.3 %) is that patrons “Feel intimidated by a classification system they don’t understand well.”
I won’t argue that DDC is far from ideal, but before discarding it altogether, look at the third reason. Patrons “Want to go straight to the right shelf without having to look anything up.” I can sympathize with that feeling every time I go into a new and/or large store. Where is that one little thing I’m looking for? And that patron who knows just where the knitting or car repair books are in one library, will have to start from scratch in a different library. I think the classification system is less important than good signs - and attentive staff on the lookout for confused patrons.
It’s not just a matter of whether to use Dewey or BISAC. If the patron can’t find what he/she is looking for, does the library not own it? It is checked out to another patron? Is there something available at another library? One hopes these questions can be answered via the catalog.
The staff at Darien are making a serious effort at reorganizing their library to be more useful to patrons who want to browse but not ignoring the scholar looking for a specific title. Their system of “glades” looks promising.
As you consider re-organizing your library’s collection, remember
· DDC was developed in 1873 for an academic library. It’s not as much “broken” as we’re trying to make it do something different.
· The DDC in the bibliographic record is not mandatory; you do *not* have to use that number if it doesn’t make sense for your library.
· Public libraries have already made a lot of modifications to DDC such as organizing fiction by the author’s last name and having a separate biography section.
· DDC is an “expansive” system and the numbers can get very long. Use the shortest number you can without combining disparate topics.
· If a subject seems to have two (or more) numbers (weight lifting is a good example: 613.713 and 796.41), choose one number and put all items there.
· General classification schemes do not work well for a focused collection such as Local History, and specific schemes have been developed such as NLM (National Library of Medicine).
Libraries are evolving organisms. Things change. I still see a lot of use for the Dewey Decimal System in the small to medium public library, but I’m open to modifications, adaptations and changes.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Read this announcement from the Library of Congress!
After confusing our patrons (and ourselves) with the subject heading Cookery, "... the ABA Policy and Standards Division (PSD) of the Library of Congress is in the initial planning stages of a project to revise the headings used in this area."
Thank heaven for the ability to make global changes in our on-line catalogs. Had this change occurred some 20 or so years ago, we'd all be wearing out every eraser in sight.
However, this means I'll have to update some of the handouts I use when I teach cataloging.
Monday, October 5, 2009
While the presentation requires some basic knowledge of MARC format, I found it very helpful. I can easily see it's usefullness for a cataloger who is experienced, but not with the more recent and unusual media - sometimes called "funny formats."
You can view the tutorial here.
To see links for all of the tutorials and games I've amassed, go here.
Have you discovered a site useful for catalogers and other technical services types? Please let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org) so that I can add it to the list.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
Mark you calendars with these Technical Services programs. Note that the first one is only a week away. There are several courses offered by WebJunction. Contact me for the code so that you can take these courses for free.
Also, CMRLS is now using GoToWebinar for some of its workshops so that you can participate without leaving your library. I’ll be giving “Behind the Bib Record” using this technology.
Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions for other T.S. programs.
Here's the list:
WebJunction Course: MARC 101
Tuesday, September 8 • 2-4 P.M. AND Wednesday, September 9 • 2-4 P.M.
Technical Services Roundtable
Wednesday, September 30 • 10–12 Noon Beaman Library, W. Boylston
Where Do I Put Them? Cataloging and Classifying Graphic Novels
Friday, October 9 • 2 – 4 p.m. CMRLS Meeting Room
WebJunction Course: FRBR - What It Is And How It Can Help You Prepare for RDA
Tuesday, October 13 • 2-4 P.M. And Thursday, October 15 • 2-4 P.M. Online
WebJunction Course: Basic Digitization: Everyday Imaging
Wed., Nov. 11 • 11:30 A.M.-1:30 P.M. AND Thursday, Nov. 12 • 11:30 A.M.-1:30 P.M. Online
Behind the Bibliographic Record
Monday, December 14 • 10–12 Noon Online
Monday, August 10, 2009
With Group 2 Entities we begin to see the relationship aspects of FRBR because a Work can be created by a Person or a Corporate Body. It can be about a Person or a Corporate Body. An Expression can be translated by a Person. A Manifestation can be published by a Corporate Body. An Item can be owned by a Person or a Corporate Body. Several of the above statements are often true simultaneously.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
If you have problems understanding all those codes, or just need to check out one(s) that you don’t use very often, there are some good sources available.
Understanding MARC Bibliographic is the best quick and easy MARC reference I’ve ever run across. If you want a copy in your hands, it is available from either Follett or Library of Congress for $5.
Library of Congress also hosts the official MARC21 Format for Bibliographic Data. After you click on a tag, you will have the choice of seeing the “full” or “concise” version of the description.
I’ve always preferred to use OCLC’s Bibliographic Formats and Standards . BF&S is freely available on the web; you do not have to be an OCLC member to use it. Perhaps it’s because I began using the print version of BF&S so I was familiar with the text and layout, or perhaps because I’m more used to it than MARC21 Format. I find it easier to navigate from one tag (or subfield) to another.
MARC uses codes for Geographic Area, Country, and Language. All are available on the official MARC21 site. When it comes to these codes, BF&S (eventually, after a few clicks) leads to MARC21.
If you’d like to practice by using a tutorial, there are a couple available. MARC21 Tutorial is from the University of Southern Mississippi and based on Understanding MARC Bibliographic. Introduction to the MARC System is one of several free cataloging-related tutorials offered by Idaho's Alternative Basic Library Education (ABLE) Program. Be careful, though as the ABLE program is slightly out of date. Maybe that’s a good test: See if you can find the obsolete indicator.
Friday, July 24, 2009
For those new to libraries, it looks like a good place to start since most of the articles are not lengthy and therefore easy to read in a short period of time. Check out both of the categories Cataloging and Classification. Each has a link at the top of the page to the other, so once you’ve located one, it’s easy to find the other.
Cataloging has 52 articles and 3 sub-categories (Authority Control, Cataloging Elements, and Catalogs) each with several articles of its own. As stated earlier, some are only stubs. Classification has 26 articles. Many articles have a link to the Wikipedia article on the same topic. While the texts are similar, they are not identical.
As cited on the “About” page, the reason for having a separate Wiki devoted to library and information science is to allow for
-Conjecture and other original research
-Opinion and position pieces not written in a neutral point of view (with factual information properly presented, of course)
-Lists, directories, esoteric library information, and non-encyclopedic knowledge that may not meet Wikipedia's inclusion criteria.
Here’s a chance for catalogers to contribute to the professional literature. You can embellish upon the existing topics or add new pages for topics that need coverage. Wikis are easy to edit – which is the whole point.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
While using these materials takes some self-discipline, what a great way to learn about LCSH, LCCN, authority work, metadata and digitization and continuing resources (in all their permutations).
The list looks like this
Cataloging Skills (CCT)
Basic Creation of Name and Title Authorities
Basic Subject Cataloging Using LCSH
Fundamentals of Series Authorities
Fundamentals of Library of Congress Classification
The Digital Library Environment (Cat21)
Digital Project Planning & Management Basics
Metadata and Digital Library Development
Metadata Standards and Applications
Principles of Controlled Vocabulary and Thesaurus Design
Rules and Tools for Cataloging Internet Resources
Continuing Resources (SCCTP)
Advanced Serials Cataloging
Basic Serials Cataloging
Electronic Serials Cataloging
Integrating Resources Cataloging
Friday, July 10, 2009
Graphic novels are a perpetual topic in the semi-annual Technical Services Roundtable and any help with this amorphous medium is greatly appreciated.
There is a list (supplied by Mark Yanko, graphic novel artist and cataloger at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh) of both online and print review sources that will help anyone in collection development. CMRLS owns one of the print titles and I have suggested that some of the other also be purchased.
As a cataloger, I paid special attention to Tom’s summary of a document developed by Mary Rose and Joel Hahn of the Lewis and Clark Library System called Cataloging Graphic Novels. While these guidelines are for a specific library, they make a good starting point for developing your own routines for organizing, classifying, and displaying this format in your library.
There’s been very little written, that I’ve seen, on this aspect of graphic novels in libraries. I don’t read Graphic Novels (too busy reading mysteries) and don’t have the opportunity to work with them, so I welcome Tom’s contribution to the literature.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
On the cataglogers pages of the CMRLS website, I have a list of Cataloging Blogs which I've just updated with several more. Here's a little information about the new additions. Most have begun in the last 6 months.
A Portal to My Cataloging Aids Website is written by Lynne LeGrow who says "For many years I have maintained a website with cataloguing aids, reminders, and links." Her list of aids is similar to my cataloging pages mentioned above. Lynne is the Cataloguer (note the u) at the Halifax Public Library in Nova Scotia.
Celeripedean claims to be "Just Another Blog About Libraries." The author is Jennifer Eustis who "would like to share my thoughts on librarianship and cataloging." Jennifer is Catalog & Metadata Librarian at the Snell Library at Northeastern University in Boston.
From the Catalog of Babes describes the day-to-day adventures of recently graduated librarian Rachel Clarke (therefore just a "babe in the woods") who is now the cataloger in a library of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in California.
Future4Catalogers Blog is written by Heidi Hoerman, faculty member of the School of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina, as she "tries to understand what's coming." Heidi made the cataloging headlines in October of 2008 when she announced at the OLAC/MOUG conference in Cleveland that she thought RDA would die a slow death. She's since recanted.
Inquiring Librarian is the blog of Jenn Riley. Jenn is Metadata Librarian with the Indiana University Digital Library Program. I had the pleasure of attending one of Jenn's programs on Metadata at the OLAC/MOUG conference in Cleveland.
Metadata Librarian Experience is written by Jin Xiu Guo who is the Assistant Librarian, Catalog/Metadata Librarian at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland.
I'm not certain if Resource Description and Access: ALA Rep Notes is still being updated, but it offers lots of insight into the RDA process. RDA is due to be released in November 2009. The ALA Rep is John Attig, of Pennsylvania State University.
I like the witty title Three Catalogers Walk Into a Blog. The three catalogers are Jennifer B. Young, Serials Cataloger at Northwestern University; Joy Anhalt, Technical Services Manager at the Tinley Park Public Library, Tinley Park, Illinois; and Richard A. Stewart,Senior Cataloger at the Indian Trails Public Library Disctrict and an instructor in the Graduate School (formerly the Graduate School, USDA). While this blog has been around since September 2008, I just discoverd it recently.
These are all good blogs to add to your RSS feed. If, after a while, you don't find them particularly useful, it's easy enough to delete the feed. I find a lot of the cataloging blogs cover the same information, so a review of them can often be very quick.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Gifts, as was rightly pointed out, are a form of Acquisitions. If you wouldn't buy it, you shouldn't accept it as a gift. All gifts must fit into a library's collection development policy. When people donate items to a library, it should be made clear that the library might do something else with the gift. The donor should be given the chance to recind the offer. Gifts (like kittens and Open Source Software) are not free. There are costs to processing and even disposing of gifts.
While the instructors made some good arguments about Interlibrary Loan being a part of Technical Services, I've never seen it structured that way in any library where I've worked. Of course they're related as all library functions are related.
Tech Services staff have often become "accidental" IT staff. I guess a lot of people think "Tech is Tech". But some people have a natural affinity for IT and others do not. It can be very stressful to be responsible for something you're somewhat afraid of (and I speak from a certain amount of experience).
Digitization is another one of those default things like IT. There is definitely a relationship since Digital images need cataloging, too. And Digital images are saved in a catalog which may or may not be the same catalog as the books and other materials.
This chapter did not include a fun game, but there was an assignment to describe how your library is organized and who is responsible for the various Technical Services functions: Acquisitions, Cataloging, Processing, and Collection Maintenance. Here is the description I wrote and posted on Blackboard.
I don’t work in a “real” library, but rather the headquarters of a Regional Library System that provides services, including consulting, to area libraries regardless of type. We have a small professional collection.
The individual consultants (including me) are responsible for collection development in their areas of expertise. We choose the titles and purchase them, usually via Amazon or ALA. There is an overall acquisitions budget monitored by the Assistant Regional Administrator.
When items arrive, they all come to me – the cataloger. We are part of a consortium and the Network headquarters maintains the catalog. I assign call numbers, add our holdings to that catalog and import bib records into it from OCLC if the ones I need are not already there. I will create an original record in OCLC if necessary. I also do all of the processing: property stamp, barcode, spine labels.The individual consultants are responsible for weeding their own areas. Once weeded, I delete our holdings from the Network catalog and OCLC.
Interlibrary Loan and Circulation are handled by a paraprofessional.The director (or in our case the Regional Administrator) occasionally selects and purchases books the same as the other consultants. The business office pays the bills.
We do no repairs; we replace an item if needed, but that seldom happens. We have small back runs of serials, but never bind them. They are rarely used except by the consultants.
We do no digitization, but I am responsible for helping area libraries select items they want digitized and create metadata. The Network headquarters maintains the digital repository and staff there handle the scanning and maintenance of the digital collections.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
In my opining, most libraries need to spend more time on weeding their collections. Reasons for removing an item include:
- Not used sufficiently to justify the space (or real estate) they require
- No longer contains current, correct, reliable, or complete information
- No longer needed or duplicate of another item
- Poor condition
- Outdated or obsolete format or technology
Rather than having more books, most libraries need a better looking collection with books spaced out so they can be seen (not to mention removed from the shelf without pulling down adjacent books). Academic libraries rarely weed, but their mission is different from a public library's and something with information that is not "current, correct, reliable, or complete" can still contribute to historical research.
Mending is a useful tool when used appropriately. However, sometimes it is actually more cost effective to purchase a new copy than try to mend a book. A heavily mended book is usually unattractive and less likely to be chosen by a library patron, so why even keep it?
In the chapter on Preservation and Conservation, the instructors distinguish between preserving the intellectual content and prolonging the life of the artifact. For example, digitizing a newspaper article makes more sense than trying to prevent it from yellowing and disintegrating. However, a rare book should be kept in a climate controlled area to prevent its deterioration.
The chapter ended with a fun little game (I like games). Different items were shown with a brief description. We were instructed to drag the item to one of 5 choices: Dispose, Repair, Digitize, Return to the Collection as is, Replace. For example, a VHS copy of the video Gone With the Wind with over 300 circulations has a broken cassette. Answer: replace it with a DVD. In a few cases, there were 2 correct answers depending on the situation.
This exercise has a major typo. At the very beginning are the instructions for the previous game - the one matching Dewey Decimal numbers to book titles. I'm still looking for a way to report this problem since I'm sure it's easy to fix.
In general, this was a thought-provoking section and one too often overlooked or not thought through very carefully in Technical Services. Too many people still have a horror of throwing away books, but there are good reasons for not keeping some things in the collection. See above.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
While the coverage was quite cursory, I have to admit that I don't even mention serials when I teach Cataloging & Classification. Many catalogers would like to forget they exist since even the simplest bib record for a serial is fraught with details and irregularities not found in most monographs. I had the good fortune (and I'm not being sarcastic) to work with a lot of serials as part of a retrospective conversion project several years ago. I worked with 2 very experienced serials catalogers and I learned a lot from them. After a few weeks, not only did I not dread serials, but I actually began looking at them as a puzzle to be solved.
Databases and electronic books were also included in this chapter, again very, very briefly - not much more coverage than that they exist. I would have really liked more detail since I have no direct experience with acquiring or cataloging such entities. Both are becoming a larger and larger component of libraries' collections and I'm feeling increasingly left behind. Attending workshops isn't the same as dealing with them on a day-to-day basis.
There are just a few more sections left in this course. Stay tuned for the final chapters.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Like the other sections the description on exactly what happens was pretty brief. However, the emphasis of this section was on examining what you do for processing and justifying each step. I totally agree with this approach.
Too many libraries record information that's not actually used, just because that's the way it's always been done. It's not unusual to see pencilled somewhere on the book an accession number, the date received, from whom/where and/or the price. Is this information ever used? If it is, can it be found anywhere else? Now that many libraries have online acquisitions systems, numbers, dates and prices can be found there. Does a staff person also need to hand write it in the book?
Another archaic practice I sometimes see is ownership information on a "secret page". Just in case someone tears off the library's name from the front of the book, the owner can be identified by going to page 62 (or 87 or some other agreed upon page) and see an additional ownership stamp. In my opinion, for all the time it takes to stamp every book the library owns on an additional specific page, the library could purchase an occasional replacement copy.
An important lesson to take away from the section on Processing: look at each step and have a good reason for doing it. Otherwise, abandon it. There's plenty of other necessary stuff to do.
The instructor also discussed outsourcing. Outsourcing is something to be considered but the library has to be careful. It may mean more compromises than the library is willing to make. However, having your books arrive with jackets already attached, or outsourcing some other very specific task might be worth the cost. If you have an abundance of reliable student workers or pages, I'd jacket in-house.
When it comes to processing library materials, think Faster, Cheaper, Better. You can only have two of them.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
This section was a very brief overview of the kinds of things involved: Descriptive Cataloging, Copy Cataloging, Subject Headings and Access Points, Item Records, Authority Control, and a reminder that the cataloging environment is ever-changing.
There was a fun exercise where I got to drag some general Dewey Decimal numbers to the corresponding hypothetical titles. There is a Dewey Concentration game in the Cataloging section of the CMRLS website. Not only is it a good refresher, but you can exercise your brain and help ward off dementia.
I expect that the reason this section did not have a lot of depth is because most cataloging in most libraries is Copy Cataloging - where a person searches a database for an existing bibliographic record and downloads it into a local system. Or in the case of a consortial member, searches the consortium database and adds local holdings. There was no coverage on the details of a bib record, no real discussion of AACR2 and its rules. And while the author was clear there have been lots of changes in the cataloging world and more to come, there was no actual mention of RDA or any other specifics.
I would have liked to see a little more in this section. Maybe some exercises that had students look at different library catalogs and/or looking at bib records in more detail. However, this is a survey course so maybe this level of coverage is appropriate.
Monday, June 15, 2009
If you answered "yes" to any or all of the above questions, please consider running for an office on the NETSL Executive Board.
Every year, there are 4 openings: Vice-Presedent-Elect, Corresponding Secretary, Recording Secretary, and Treasurer. Each term is for one year. However, the VP/Pres-Elect automatically becomes President the following year and Past-President the year after that, so the position is, in fact, a 3 year committment.
In addition to the elected offices, there are some positions appointed by the President in consultation with the rest of the Board. There are 2 Members-at-Large, Membership Committee Chair, and Archivist. If you run unsuccessfully for one of the above offices, and want to serve on the Board, you can volunteer for any of the appointed positions.
For more details on being a NETSL officer, see Article IV of the By-Laws on the NETSL website. I'm also happy to talk with anyone who just wants to discuss the responsibilities in more detail.
To toss your hat into the NETSL ring, contact current President Amy Benson at email@example.com, or 617-495-5858 by July 8th.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
We were to visit the websites of at least two library book vendors and notice 1. The type of information they provide; 2. The value-added services and features; 3. Anything else that struck us as interesting and/or desirable.
Then we were to visit the websites of at least two regular retail Internet book and audiovisual sellers and notice 1. Value-added features they provide; 2. How the information is organized; 3. Other observations.
One thing that’s pretty obvious is that Amazon sells a lot more than books. Kind of like Wal-Mart or Super Stop & Shop – they sell at least some of just about everything. Who knows? Maybe I'll end up buying my next car from Amazon :-)
Now I’m to make a list of the features, special services, or other factors that I would want from the "ideal" vendor or source for books and audiovisual items for a library like mine.
It’s been a long time since I’ve worked in acquisitions, and I don't work in a "real" library, so my answers are all theoretical.
A lot of my expectations of a vendor would depend on the circumstances of my library. Do I have adequate staff? What kind of equipment does my Technical Services Department have? Am I part of a consortium or do I have a stand-alone ILS? The less my library has, the more I will want from my vendor. (Note to administrators: You have to pay one way or the other.)
If I’m not part of a consortium, or did not have access to OCLC or other large database, I’d likely want bibliographic records for the items I purchased. If I had minimal staff, I’d probably want my items processed (mylar book jackets, property stamps, spine labels, barcodes, etc.).
Another option would be a third-party company for cataloging and processing. Perhaps it’s because I worked for just such a company, but my impression is that a library is able to get very specific customization from such an entity. If a bibliographic record does not already exist, they will create one. My experience with most vendors is that if they cannot find an existing bib record, the library does not receive one. Also, there are fewer existing bib records for audiovisual materials than for books, yet the need for those records is just as great. How would I get bib records for "odd" items?
Regardless of cataloging and processing, I’d want an online ordering system that coordinated with my catalog so that my patrons could see what was on order as well as what my library owned. I’d want to be able to keep track of the status of my items (shipped, on backorder, out of stock, etc.). I’d want to be able to keep track of what I’d already spent, what I’d encumbered, and be able to allot funds to different accounts if I had multiple branches. It's unlikely that I'd be able to purchase 100% of the items I wanted from a single vendor, so I'd need to be able to incorporate those other purchases into the accounting system.
Technical Services does not exist in a vacuum. I want materials that I order to arrive quickly, be findable in the library catalog and to look neat and clean on the library shelves so that patrons will want to check them out and take them home.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
There’s a lot going on in the Massachusetts digital world. Let me outline some
of it; I’m sure there is more of which I’m not aware.
In western and central Massachusetts, there’s Digital Treasures which is a collaboration among WMRLS, CMRLS and C/W MARS. Any library that’s a member of either of the regions can participate. You don’t have to be a C/W MARS member. There is a cost, which is slightly higher for non-C/W members, but I also have some grant money that can be used to defray most of that cost. The metadata for images in Digital Treasures are written in Dublin Core. The metadata have been sent to OCLC, converted to MARC, and imported into the C/W MARS catalog, so everything is available in both places. Digital Treasures is OAI (Open Archives Initiative) harvestable and everything is searchable via Google or any search engine as well as from the OAIster site.
In Massachusetts as a whole, there is Digital Commonwealth. DigiCom is primarily a portal which (similar to OAIster) harvests digital images in repositories throughout Massachusetts. There is a fee to join, but CMRLS, WMRLS and C/W MARS are all members so any library who is a part of Digital Treasures can search its collection via DigiCom. Libraries that have their own repositories can join DigiCom directly.
If a library (or museum or archive) wants to display its digital images, but does not want to or is unable to go through one of the existing repositories and does not have its own repository, DigiCom has a partnership with NELINET to host individual organizations’ repositories.
Boston Public Library is participating in the Internet Archive. I know a lot less about this project since I have not been directly involved with it. I do know, however, that libraries that want to have books scanned can send them to BPL and those books will be available via the Internet Archive. The Webster Vet Library at Tufts in North Grafton has done this with many titles in a special collection they received called the Seaverns Equine Collection. The digitized books are searchable from both the IA and their catalog.
BPL also has a partnership with Open Library . Like IA above, I’m not directly involved with this project. I do know that people can request books to be scanned so they are available to read online or download.
If your library has photos or documents (not books) to scan and wants to be part of Digital Treasures, please let me know. I can help a little with selection (it’s not my strength, but I can offer some guidelines) and a lot with metadata creation.
That last paragraph applies to all libraries located within the central region. Calling (or emailing) me and talking more about Digital Treasures does not commit you to anything. Feel free just to gather information for a possible future project.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I'm taking the course for a couple of reasons:
1. Since I teach a beginning cataloging course, I'm always looking to see what other cataloging-related courses are offered. I like to see how other people cover the information and I want to make sure I'm not missing anything. I watch the way the information is presented because I want to be able to present it in a way beginners will understand. One of the biggest chalenges of knowing your subject matter well is remembering that others do not. I can't assume everyone knows the terminology or has much Technical Services experience. Even people who have worked in a library for many years often don't know the deatils of what happens in Technical Services.
2. For a while now, I've wanted to do more with online courses. Between the cost of gasoline and the time it takes to commute, more people are reluctant to go out to workshops. This situation is now compounded with cuts to library budges which often means fewer staff making it even more difficult to leave the library. Online courses give people more options and many of my standard workshops lend themselves to online teaching. A good way for me to learn how this all works is to take an online course.
3. Even with face-to-face classes, an online component adds variety to the material and allows for more interaction - something else I've been trying to incorporate into my workshops.
This particular online course has keeping a journal as one of its assignements. That's great for me as it gives me a reason to post regularly to this blog.
So far, the material is pretty basic. I took the pre-test and got a 98%. There was one question worth 10 points. It contained a list of skills and I was supposed to check off all of the ones needed for Technical Services. One was "Good business sense" which I debated about. I think someone in Tech Services should have good business sense, but decided the creator of the quiz would not expect that to be included. I was wrong and I lost 2 points for not checking that particular skill.
So be aware: Good business sense is needed in Technical Services.
If you're interested in taking this online course or any of the WebJunction courses, they are free for staff of CMRLS member libraries. CMRLS has purchased a large block of "units" to be made available to library staff. You'll need a coupon code to register and you can request that by sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, June 1, 2009
Now there’s a new war to wage as I see more and more references to ILS Systems. ILS stands for Integrated Library System, so again saying ILS System is the same as saying Integrated Library System System.
Yes, I am a cataloger and therefore very picky about things like that. However, I feel the “problem” is broader than it might appear at first. Librarians, and especially catalogers, have a lot of jargon. We need to be careful when talking to non-library types not to use jargon if we want them to understand what we’re talking about. We even need to be careful when talking to non-cataloger librarians.
If you need to use the word “number” after the initials ISBN because you think the person with whom you’re talking will not understand you, then perhaps you shouldn’t be using the initials. Perhaps you should be using the entire phrase: International Standard Bibliographic Number.
I’m surprised how many people (even librarians) are not familiar with the initials ILS. They likely know what an online catalog is and probably what an OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog) is, but don’t think of it as being part of a larger system – an Integrated Library System. An ILS is an inventory of holdings with a user-friendly (one hopes) interface for searching and locating those holdings. It includes additional modules such as serials check-in and acquisitions for ordering new items as well as a module to circulate those items to the public and a way to create various reports. It may include other features, too, such as a repository for digital images.
There’s always discussion in library circles about the catalog and what it should be and for whom. Perhaps in a few years, there will be a different set of initials to contemplate.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
This may have been the best NETSL conference ever. Keynote speaker Karen Coyle demonstrated some ways that bibliographic data can be used besides looking for a book. Rick Block kept the audience chuckling while he discussed the pros and cons of RDA. (There were 3 other breakout sessions, but alas, I could only attend one.)
Ted Fons talked about some of the research in which OCLC is involved. Three panelists showed how their institutions are "Mining the OPAC". All of the talks tied together very nicely and lots of audience members asked questions or made comments. The food was good, several vendors helped with sponsorships, and one lucky person took home a lovely doorprize.
The speakers' presentations are available on the NETSL website.
There is no date set for the 2010 conference, but it will be on a Friday in April so watch for information beginning early in the year.
Monday, March 23, 2009
So, my question to you is What do you think CMRLS should offer in the area of Technical Services? There are programs on bibliographic records in general, MARC records, Dewey Decimal System that I teach regularly. Something on Resource Description and Access (RDA - the new, revised version of cataloging rules) is probable since if/when it is implemented will change cataloging - maybe drastically.
What would you like to learn more about? What would you attend? It doesn't have to be limited to Tech Services as I can always forward ideas on to my colleagues.
Please let me know!
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
Most Technical Services programs will be held on Thursday, May 7 beginning at 8:30 a.m. when LibraryThing's Tim Spalding will be talking about community content.
Immediately on Tim's heels is a program entitled “Next Generation” Cataloging and Metadata Creation Pilot with speakers Renee Register and Maureen Huss, both from OCLC.
That program is followed by Barbara Tillett, Chief of the Policy and Standards Division of the Library of Congress talking about Resource Description and Access (RDA). All in all, a very full morning.
There will, of course, be other programs of interest to Tech Services-types like the mini-conference on Manga to be held all day Friday. For anyone who has ordered, cataloged, classified and generally had to organized Manga, knowing more about it can only help. In fact, just about everything being offered at the MLA conference has some relationship to Technical Services which does not exist in isolation.
I'll be giving a presentation at the conference on Friday on Public Speaking. While you may not have to expound at your local Town Meeting, basic public speaking skills are also important when defending the value of Technical Services in your own library. Too many people, other librarians included, do not understand all that happens "behind the scenes." Informed, articulate Technical Services Librarians are an integral part of any library meeting its patrons needs.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
Don't forget to check off NETSL at the bottom of the page. It doesn't cost anything extra and you get to be part of an elite cadre. You'll also get an invitation (which includes a free drink) to attend the NETSL reception at the NELA conference in the fall.
The NETSL Executive Board is already hard at work planning its Spring Conference which will be held at Holy Cross College on Friday, April 17. And it's soliciting nominations for the NETSL Award for Excellence in LibraryTechnical Services which will be presented at the conference.
There's lots going on in NETSL; don't be left out!
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Friday, January 2, 2009
There are some Roundtables coming up to put on your calendar. As always, if you have any questions, suggestions for Roundtable topics, or suggestions for Technical Services programs in general, please let me know.
Serials Roundtable – Friday, March 27, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. While staff members of Public and School Libraries are invited, the topics discussed apply more to Academic and Special Libraries who are members of OCLC.
Technical Services Roundtable – Friday, April 10, Lawrence Library, Pepperell. Here, the focus is on Public Libraries, tending toward workflow, acquisitions, labeling, packaging and repair issues. Graphic novels are often a concern: selection, organization, classification, etc. However, we can all learn from each other, so Academics, Schools and Specials are certainly invited to attend.
TS staff are likely to be involved in Digital Treasures. If so, Beyond Digital Treasures will be held on Wednesday, May 27 at the Jacob Edwards Library in Southbridge. If some of your library’s items have been scanned and mounted in Digital Treasures you can use those images to help market the collection and your library in more ways than with a simple link on your library’s web page. If you’ve not yet become a part of this digital library, this is a chance to talk with those who have and find out what’s involved.
Last, but not least, and not just for Tech Services people, CMRLS will be offering a workshop on Stress Reduction and Relaxation techniques on Thursday, April 9. Zayda Vallejo, from the Center for Mindfulness at the UMass Medical School will offer participants a variety of ways to make the most of these stressful times.
Register for these programs on the CMRLS website.