Tuesday, July 28, 2009

MARC resources

For the last few years, since RDA has been in the making, there has also been talk about MARC’s demise. That’s MARC as in Machine Readable Cataloging. As our metadata evolves, the way to transmit it will probably also evolve. XML is a possibility, but for now we have MARC. MARC codes have recently been updated in anticipation of RDA.

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 Be careful, though as the ABLE program is slightly out of date.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

LISWiki – Cataloging & Classification

Similar to the famous Wikipedia but more focused, there is a Wiki just for library topics called LISWiki. Begun in 2005, it still needs lots of work by knowledgeable librarians since many of the articles are just “stubs”.

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

FRBR Entities - Group 1

I've been plugging away at Robert Maxwell's FRBR: A Guide for the Perplexed for the last few weeks so that I could write a review of it in this blog. I've just finished the section on Group 1, the section with which many are most familiar: Work, Expression, Manifestation, Item. I've seen it written as WEMI which is helpful because it is very easy (for me at least) to confuse Expression and Manifestation.

FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records) is not easy to understand, but I feel this book has helped me a lot. However, the book hasn't helped enough for me to explain FRBR very well to others. Or maybe FRBR is just not easily explainable. It is, after all, a conceptual model that explains relationships. Attempts at making FRBR concrete by creating diagrams can make it look even more complicated. So here's my understanding of how the Group 1 entities relate to each other.

A Work is an idea, a thought, a creation - not written, not spoken. It doesn't refer to a concrete item.

The Expression of a Work is also conceptual, not concrete. If we are ultimately talking about a book, the Work can be Expressed in English or French or Chinese or another language. Two different translations into French are two different Expressions.

With Manifestation, we approach actual things we can hold in our hands. The English language publication of a book by HarperCollins is a Manifestation. The English language publication of the same content by Bantam paperbacks is a different Manifestation. At this point, we're not talking about a single book, but the entire run. A Manifestation is what we catalog. A bibliographic record represents a Manifestation.

What I'm still confused about, is how the audiobook of this Work fits in here. Is the oral version a different Expression or a different Manifestation? Maxwell says that "... as currently written, FRBR does not deal well with genre/form relationships with Group 1 entities." Maybe that's the problem.

An Item is something we can all grasp - literally as well as figuratively. We can purchase one Item of a Manifestation. We can catalog it, classify it and put it in our library.

There's a lot more to FRBR than what I've described above. All of these entities have attributes such as title, form, date, other distinguishing characteristics. All attributes of Work are also attribute of Expression plus some additional ones. Fortunately, not all available attributes will apply to every entity.

As he explains each entity and its attributes, Maxwell sometimes points out difficulties or problems with the model. As I look at the FRBR diagrams and try to follow the relationships, I have to wonder who figured this out?

Now it's on to the Group 2 entities: Person, Corporate Body, Family. Perhaps this section with help shed some light on what I've already read,

Monday, July 13, 2009

Catalogers' Learning Workshop

On the Library of Congress site is a section called Catalogers' Learning Workshop, which includes freely available cataloging and metadata training materials.

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
Serials Holdings

Friday, July 10, 2009

Graphic Novels: What to do with them?

I just received the latest issue of Technicalities. The serial is a little on the expensive side, but I usually find good information inside of its black and white covers. This issue was no exception. On pages 10-14 is an article called “Graphic Novels and Metadata: The Connections and the Challenges” by Tom Adamich, a certified teacher-librarian and the president of Visiting Librarian Service in New Philadelphia, Ohio.

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.