Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Next Phase of Quick T.S.

Quick T.S. was started as one of a series of blogs of the Central Mass. Regional Library System. I've kept the focus on things that I thought would be of interest to technical services staff in central Massachusetts.

But today is the last day of CMRLS. Due to budget cuts, we have merged with the other Mass. Regional Library Systems into one single Massachusetts Library System (MLS). The building at 8 Flagg Rd. in Shrewsbury is emply, although there will be a few people here for a few days to finish up some details.

At the moment, there is no staff member at MLS whose primary focus is Technical Services, so I've decided to continue this blog and broaden its perspective a bit. I'm doing this as much for myself as for all of the other Tech Services people in Massachusetts. My career as a cataloger is not yet over even though I don't have a specific place of employment. Maintaining this blog will be a good way for me to keep up with TS issues and, more importantly, to think about them and expound upon them. Maybe I'll even post more often.

Not only am I available for full-time cataloging or metadata positions (with I hope with a shorter commute from my home in western Mass than I've had the last several years), but I can work on projects. If you know of a library that needs retrospective conversion or wants to become part of Digital Treasures, please keep me in mind.

As much as I love being a cataloger, I have a whole other life and beginning tomorrow I'll have more time to spend on it - at least for a while. I'm also planning to create a new, non-cataloging blog to help me navigate this new phase. I think I will call it Cataloger in Transition.
After having a link sitting in my e-mail inbox since February, I finally watched the webinar Cataloging: Where are we now? Where are we going? with Karen Coyle and Renee Register. It was 90 minutes well spent.

If you follow Karen's blog or have heard her speak, there was nothing new or different in this webinar, but it was a nice summary of her position on library data. Karen is an advocate of sharing library data with other entities. She can also explain the semantic web and linked data in a way that I can almost understand. I've seen Renee's name, but have not heard her speak before. While her perspective may be a little different from Karen's, they are pretty much on the same side of the issue.

There is one (only one?) thing I'm still not totally clear about. I keep hearing (and not just from Karen) that other organizations are practically drooling over all of the data in libraries and if that data were more accessible it would be used - a lot. I'm all for sharing - after all I'm a librarian. However, I'm curious as to how library data would/could be used. I guess I don't have much of an imagination when it comes to things like this.

Karen has described research that maps when an author's work was published and compares that with when works about that author were published. Kind of neat, but not something I can see myself using on a day-to-day basis.

At the NETSL conference in April, one of the keynote speakers was Jon Orwant, Engineering Manager for Google Books, Google Magazines, and Google Patents. He talked about research in the area of language. The words in books can be mined to see word patterns, when a particular word first appeard, how often it appeared and frequency of appearance. This was another of the specific examples of how library data can be used. Linguists use this sort of information and, I expect, those who compile dictionaries and encyclopedias.

Still, I'd like to know of more examples of how library data could be used since I personally can't think of any. Regardless, I have no problem sharing and I'm happy to adapt library practices to facilitate sharing. After all, won't such sharing help raise the status of libraries in the eyes of the non-library world?

A byproduct of the webinar was that I learned about the Library Learning Network of the College of DuPage. During the academic year they offer a series of webinars on library issues. Unfortunately, there are no more scheduled until sometime in the fall, but the 5 they've offered since November are all available to view. I look forward to seeing what they offer next.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Digital Treasures in the Real World

Fame is coming to Digital Treasures. And I'll be an author so I guess fame is coming to me, too.

Several months ago, Dr. Kwong Bor Ng, Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies at New York City's Queens College and Jason Kucsma, Emerging Technologies Manager, METRO posted to a discusion list. They were seeking chapters about actual digitization projects - real life experiences of real life libraries and librarians.

Well, Digital Treasures is a real digitization project and the things we've learned would definitely be of interest to others considering taking a similar step. And the fact that it is a collaborative project including many institutions gives Digital Treasures an unusual slant. So Kristi Chadwick of C/W MARS, Jan Resnick of WMRLS and I co-wrote a description of the project tentatively titled "Digital Treasures: The Evolution of a Digital Repository in Massachusetts". It is now in the editing stages and will soon become part of a book tentatively titled Digitization in the Real World.

I believe the book is due to be published later this year - December maybe. Watch for it!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Call for NETSL officers

It's that time of year when YOU have the opportunity to expand your professional horizon and volunteer to serve on the Executive Board of NETSL.

I cannot stress the benefits enough. If you are elected to the NETSL Board, you can add that fact to your resume, you get to meet many interesting people who are active in the Technical Services world, you have a chance to develop organizational and leadership skills, and you can attend the annual spring conference for free.

I spent three happy years on the NETSL Board, one year each as Vice-President/President-Elect, President, and Past President. In my beginning librarian days, I was in awe of the people on the NETSL Board. But I can now say with absolute conviction that they are all warm and welcoming people. They enjoy working both with experienced librarians and newbies.

Where ever you are in your Technical Services career, please consider becoming more active via NETSL.

Here's the notice that was just posted to the various Tech Services discussion lists:

The New England Technical Services Librarians (NETSL) Executive Board is committed to promoting and supporting technical services activities in New England. Board members plan and present the annual NETSL Spring Conference. The Board also develops programs for the New England Library Association (NELA) Annual Conference, presents the annual NETSL Award for Excellence in Technical Services, and promotes technical services throughout New England and beyond through partnerships with other similar organizations.

Each year NETSL holds elections to fill open positions on the Board. If you are enthusiastic about innovations in technical services, are interested in contributing to regional technical services programming, and would like to have direct input into the direction of NETSL as an organization, consider running for a position on the NETSL Executive Board. Candidates must be NETSL members (via membership in NELA) to serve on the board.The following positions on NETSL's 2010-2011 Executive Board are open:
* Corresponding Secretary (one-year term)
* Recording Secretary (one-year term)
* Treasurer (one-year term)
* Vice President/President-Elect (three-year term)

After serving as VP for one year, the VP succeeds to the office of President, then remains a third year on the Board as Past President. The VP must be, or become, a member of the ALCTS division of the American Library Association in addition to being a NETSL member. VP candidates write a personal statement (approximately 150 words) outlining their background and interests, which will be included on the ballot.

Terms of office officially begin at the end of NETSL's annual business meeting, held during the NELA Annual Conference (this year, October 17-19, 2010). The NETSL Board will hold a transition meeting with both current members and incoming members on September 17, 2010 at the LYRASIS offices in Southborough, MA.

For additional details about NETSL and the duties of the offices of the Board, visit the NETSL web site: If you are interested in running for a Board office, please contact Amy Hart at, or 508-655-8008 x222 by July 9th. Election ballots will go out to the membership in late July.

Amy Hart
President, NETSL
508-655-8008 x222

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Library Science terminology

Every profession has its lingo and Libraries are no differnt. Even those who have been in the field a while don't always know the meaning of a particular term, even if they know the term itself.

Thanks to AUTOCAT, I've added 3 sites to the CMRLS Cataloger's Pages under Miscellaneous Helpful Sites. They all contain definitions of Library Science terms and are very handy to have bookmarked.

I've been concerned about the fate of my pages since last fall when I learned that CMRLS was to be merged with the other 5 Regional Library Systems into one statewide Massachusetts Library System. I still don't know the ultimate destination of my pages, but for the immediate future they will be available in two different places. CMRLS will have a static website at so that CMRLS information will still be accessible until things settle down and people see what needs to be forwarded to the Mass. Library System's website.

The second place is at my delicious account. I've tagged every site Catalogers_Pages. I've also tagged each site with it's specific page name such as Cataloger's_Sites, Discussion_Lists, Professional_Organizations, Tutorials&Games, Blogs and Lighter_Side.

I have a workshop called "Must-See Sites for Tech. Services" and I've used my pages from CMRLS website to show people all of the nifty sources I've found over the years. I need to have the pages available to conduct the workshop regardless of what happens with my association with the Mass. Library System. (I should find out in the next day or two if I am one of the regional consultants "moving forward" with the "new entity".)

This is a good opportunity for me to develop my delicious skills. I'm hoping delicious allows hierarchies so that I can reconstruct my pages more like they are on the CMRLS site.

Do I sound like a cataloger?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Technical Service is Customer Service

Last week was the Mass. Library Association's annual conference in Hyannis. All of the Tech. Services programs were held on Thursday; that is the day I was there.

The MLA/TSS Executive Board organized 4 programs. All were very different and all were full of really good information. I hope to blog about the other programs (especially about the eXtensible Catalog), but my favorite program was Improving Communication Between Technical and Public Services.

Sara Simpson is the Technical Services Manager for the Tulsa City-County Library. Tulsa is one of those large systems where the library in a town is a branch of the county library. The Tech Services functions (Acquisitions, Cataloging, Processing) are centralized in the main facility. The traditional Public Services occur in every branch. The communication project began about 8 years ago and the situation has finally gotten to the point where TS people no longer consider every PS request an interruption and PS people no longer view TS staff as people who say "no" to every request.

Lots of things happened during those 8 years including TSers working with PSers and vice versa to see what it was like to be one of "them" and PS staff being able to make some of the changes they once forwarded on to TS (and didn't get returned for a long time). Something that really struck me was the revised attitude that the staff in Public Services are the customers of Technical Services. When someone in Public Services has a request, it is not an interruption for Tech Services staff, but part of the job. That alone makes a difference.

If you have a less than wonderful relationship with the Public Services staff in your library, perhaps you should evaluate your view of PS. Do you consider the people in Public Services your customers?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Upcoming T.S. programs

Thursdays will be busy for the next couple of months. The conferences I usually attend all fall on a Thursday this year.

On March 25, Digital Commonwealth will be holding its annual conference at Holy Cross College. I'll be giving a presentation on Metadata and focusing on Dublin Core. (I'll be giving a similar workshop at the Metrowest Regional Library System on Monday, March 29 from 1-3 p.m.)

April 15 is the day of the NETSL annual conference, also at Holy Cross. This year I'll be relaxing and letting others do all the work - no speaking; no organizing. For the 3 previous years of this conference, I was on the NETSL Executive Board and helped plan the annual conference.

MLA's annual conference will be held April 28-30 at the Hyannis Resort and Conference Center. The Technical Services section of MLA has scheduled all of their programs on Thursday, April 29. Titles of the programs are The Extensible Catalog; The Future of Publishing Digital vs Print; Improving Communication Between Technical and Public Services; and Library Stacks Management: System A Practical Approach for Libraries Large and Small. Only the titles are available right now. Descriptions will follow.

If you go to one or more of these conferences, be sure to say "hello".

Monday, March 8, 2010

Perpetual Beta & Bibliographic Records

When I was trained as a cataloger, the goal was to create (as much as possible) the perfect bibliographic record. I completed a thorough description and included all possible access points. The idea was that other catalogers could find my bib record and know immediately that it matched (or didn't) the item that they held in their hands. I dreaded the thought that a colleague might say something like: "It would have been better if she had included ...". I expect this is how most catalogers think of bib records: if they need revision, the first cataloger did not do his/her job very well.

Even with CIP and brief records and on-the-fly records created locally so that an item can circulate - all of which need upgrading - catalogers still think in terms of bib records being complete, if not when they are entered, then the next time they are handled. Posters to AUTOCAT complain bitterly about "Level 3" records in OCLC, which are created by publishers, saying it takes longer to revise them than to start from scratch.

However, a few weeks ago, someone said something on one of the electronic discussion lists (I subscribe to several and most of the same people post to all of them) that perhaps we're thinking about bib records in the wrong way. We need to take a cooperative approach - after all this is the age of Web 2.0 where everyone contributes. Some catalogers are more experienced than others; different people have different skills (e.g. in languages).

So rather than thinking in terms of one person completing the perfect bib record, perhaps we begin with CIP or publishers data or something else and build on that. The first person with the book in hand adds details like paging. Someone who has studied a specific field can add more precise subject headings. The responsibility doesn't have to fall to just one person. This doesn't excuse anyone for doing a sloppy job, but sometimes the information one has to work with is limited. I've created bib records from "surrogates" (i.e. photocopies of titles pages) and for books in totally foreign (to me) languages like Hungarian. I expect I missed more than a few things in those cases, but I did the best I could with what I had.

We could think of bib records like a wiki. They evolve; people keep adding to them. Even though a published book is a static object and doesn't change, the information we have about the book, the author, publisher, etc. would and given the Semantic Web, that information could be incorporated into or linked to the bib record.

As a digital immigrant and a linear thinker, I'm still in awe of all of the possibilities of the Semantic Web, but I'm catching on. I'm realizing bib records can be so much more than what once "perfectly" fit on a 3x 5 card.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

New Titles from ALA

I just received the Spring/Summere 2010 edition of the ALA Publishing catalog. There are two new books of interest for catalogers. Sadly, CMRLS won't be purchasing them, but perhaps the Massachusetts Library System (into which CMRLS will be subsumed) will.

Introducing RDA: A Guide to the Basics by Chris Oliver.

And Cataloging Correctly for Kids: An Introduction to the Tools (5th edition) edited by Sheila Intner, Joanna Fountain and Jean Weihs.

Monday, March 1, 2010

NETSL Conference April 15

NETSL is holding its annual spring conference on Thursday, April 15. The conference is usually on a Friday, but sometimes Fridays don't work out. Having it on a Thursday doesn't seem to hurt attendance any.

Registration is now open. I've sent my money in (or more correctly, CMRLS has sent money for me).

Click here for registration information whether mail-in or online.

Hope to see you there.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The RDA Toolkit

Last week, I attended a Webinar on RDA given by Troy Linker, Publisher of the American Library Association's digital reference materials.

I'm not going to get into a discussion of whether or not we need RDA, if it goes too far or not far enough, or even if it's too expensive. I am going to talk about how the product works. Simply put, it's very 2.0.

I understand why there are no plans to publish the "document" in print format: it's not meant to be used that way. I also understand why it has no index: because it's keyword searchable.

Everything is hyperlinked, expandable/collapsible, and you can add your own notes. The entire text of AACR2 is included in the Toolkit. If you know the number of a specific rule in AACR2 (I don't know many of them, but a lot of catalogers do), you can go to the AACR2 section, locate the rule number and click on the blue RDA button next to it to be brought to the corresonding sections in RDA.

The specifics of the Toolkit are difficult to describe. It's not actually linear; it's really a website with hyperlinks that lead to the various places a person might want to go - like the corresponding MARC tag. If you want to look only at the rules, you can hide the examples and retrieve them later. If you want to clarify how your library uses a specific rule, you can add a bookmark. You can also integrate the rules with your library's workflow, eliminating the need for a procedures manual (which many libraries don't have, but should).

There's been a lot of discussion on the AUTOCAT list about the price of the Toolkit. When it is released sometime in June 2010, there will be a free trial through August 31. Anyone who wants to use it can, but will have to register. The reason for registration is so that if you add notes and/or take advantage of the ability to add your workflow, you will not lose them when you subscribe to RDA.

The webinars (held February 8 and 9) are both available for viewing. Regardless of how you feel about RDA, I recommend viewing at least the tour (there's also discussion about the history of RDA, pricing, etc). As someone who immediately abandoned the print versions of OCLC's Bibliographic Formats and Standards and Library of Congress Subject Headings as soon as she learned about the online versions, I think I could have fun with the RDA Toolkit.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Oh, Those Notes

Yes, there is a correct order for notes, according to AACR2. Or in MARC-speak 5XX fields. Although if you look at a dozen or so bibliographic records, you probably wouldn't know what the order is.

AACR2 prescribes a specific order; it's given in the Note Area (X.7) of each section. If you think of the bibliographic record, the notes follow the same pattern. You begin with the title, then subtitle, statement of responsibility, edition, place of publication, publisher, date, extent of item, etc. Any notes having to do with the entire item come first (Scope, Language, System Requirements), then notes about the title (e.g. Source of title), subtitle, statement of responsibility, edition, place of publication, publisher, date, extent of item, etc.

However, when MARC tags were assigned to these various notes, they were not assigned in numerical order. Therefore, the Systems Requirement note is 538 and the Language note is 546 even though they are the first notes. For a videorecording, the note about Cast (Actors; 511) comes before the note about Credits (Cinematographer; 508).

In creating original bib records on OCLC, some catalogers list notes according to AACR2 rules in which case the MARC tags are in no discernable order. Other catalogers don't know about AACR2 order and create notes in numerical MARC order. When downloading a bib record from OCLC, some ILSs shuffle the MARC tags into numerical order even if that's not the way the record was created. No wonder catalogers are confused!

Recently on AUTOCAT, I learned of 2 sites (Penn State and Brigham Young University) that provide guidance for the correct order of notes. I've added them to the cataloger's pages under Sites for Catalogers on the CMRLS website. If you're one of the many people confused about note order, these sites are a great help.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Learning More About RDA

I've seen several notices about an RDA Toolkit Guided Tour so I've registered for the one to be held Tuesday, February 9 at 11:00 EST.

Just in case you haven't seen the information ...

ALA publishing is giving the same presentation we did at ALA midwinter as a Webinar for anyone interested to see a demo of the RDA Toolkit beta site. We will give the same presentation twice at different times of day in hopes of covering as may people as possible.
These are the first of what we hope to be many RDA related webinars.

RDA Toolkit: A Guided Tour!
Join Troy Linker from ALA Publishing for an introductory guided tour of the RDA Toolkit website. If you were at ALA Midwinter in Boston, you may already have taken this tour at the RDA Update Forum, the CC:DA meeting, or on the exhibit floor–but please feel free to join us again.
The webinar will be recorded and posted for anyone that is unable to participate live. Details for accessing the recorded webinar video will be emailed to registries and posted widely.
The tour includes:
• Description of the RDA Toolkit
• Overview of the RDA Toolkit contents at launch and beyond
• Tour of the RDA Toolkit interface including Search, Browse, Bookmarks, Workflows, Maps, and more
• Launch timeline
• Details of the Complimentary Open Access period
• RDA Toolkit pricing for the US
• Linking from external products to the RDA Toolkit
Join us on February 8, – 21:00-22:00 GMT 4:00pm-5pm EST 3:00pm-4pm CST 1:00pm-2pm PST
Join us on February 9, – 16:00-17:00 GMT 11:00am-12pm EST 10:00am-11am CST 8:00am-9am PST

Kind regards,
Troy Linker
Publisher, ALA Digital Reference
American Library Association

Thursday, January 28, 2010

DDC 23

From Libbie Crawford, Product Manager of Dewey Decimal Classification via AUTOCAT:

Just to let you know, we are planning a print version of DDC 23 to be released in 2011 with the Abridged 15 edition to be released shortly after DDC 23 is released.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

RDA and cell(ular) (tele)phones

During the ALA Midwinter conference, pricing for the new cataloging standard, RDA, was announced. RDA will be online only, although any library that purchaces a license can print copies of its pages.

The price is $325 per year for one user (or many users, just one at a time). The license for additional concurrent users is $55/user. Nothing has been said about a price for library schools although the question has been asked on AUTOCAT along with LOTS of discussion on the cost and how difficult it will be for smaller libraries to afford.

Also posted on AUTOCAT recently was the list of Library of Congress Subject Headings changes. The last week in December, LC made 40 changes including changing all instances of Cellular telephone to Cell phone (Cellular telephone calls now Cell phone calls; Cellular telephones and traffic accidents now Cell phones and traffic accidents).

This switch to the common usage took a lot less time than it did with Airplanes - which were officially (according to LC) Aeroplanes until sometime in the 1980s.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Technical Services Books

Yesterday I received a catalog from Neal-Schuman publishers and saw they have several new books in the subject area "Cataloging & Classification". I generally find N-S publications very helpful. Too bad we won't be purchasing any of these titles for the CMRLS professional collection because I'm really interested in reading a couple of them myself. Perhaps the new Regional Library will buy some or all of these books when it becomes an official organization after June 30.

In the meantime, you might want one or more for your own collection.

Cataloging Nonbook, Electronic, Web, and Networked Resources: A How-To-Do-It Manual and CD-ROM for Librarians / by Mary Beth Weber and Fay Austin.

Cataloging Outside the Box: A Practical Guide to Cataloging Special Collections Materials / by Patricia Falk a;nd Stefanie Dennis Hunker.

Implementing FRBR in Libraries: Key Issues and Future Directions / by Yin Zhang and Athena Salaba.

Practical Cataloging: AACR, RDA, and MARC21 / by Anne Welsh and Sue Batley.

Essential Library of Congress Subject Headings / by Vanda Broughton.

Several related titles:
Digital Curation: A How-To-Do-It Manual / by Ross Harvey.

Web 2.0 Tools and Strategies for Archives and Local History Collections / by Kate Theimer

Archives: Principles and Practices / by Laura A. Millar.

Community Archives: The Shaping of Memory / edited by Jeannette A. Bastian and Ben Alexander.

Starting, Strengthening and Managing Institutional Repositories: A How-To-Do-It Manual / by Jonathan Nabe.

Management Skills for Archivists and Records Managers / by Elizabeth Shepherd and Karen Anderson.

Managing Electronic Records /by William Saffady - 4th ed.

Future of Archives and Recordkeeping: A Reader / edited by Jennie Hill

Monday, January 4, 2010

NETSL Award for Excellence in Library Technical Services

It's been very widely publicized, but just in case ...

New England Technical Services Librarians (NETSL) Executive Board is seeking nominations for its annual NETSL Award for Excellence in Library Technical Services.

The NETSL Award recognizes and honors significant New England-based contributions to the field of library technical services. Contributions may have been made in New England by librarians from throughout the United States, or nationally by librarians residing in New England, through publications, service, or innovations in practice. The NETSL Executive Board members select a recipient at their February meeting based on nominations received. The Board reserves the right to suspend the Award for a year if no suitable candidate is nominated.

The next NETSL Award will be presented at the NETSL Annual Spring Conference 2010: Crosswalks to the Future, April 15, 2010, at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA.

Eligibility for nomination is as follows:
Nominees may be NETSL/NELA members, but membership in the Association is not a requirement.
A nomination must be accompanied by a written statement that includes the rationale for nomination and, if a resume of the nominee is not appended, a narrative summary of the nominee's career and achievements. Provision of a resume is strongly recommended.
Nominations may be made by NETSL members, or by non-members.
Nominations and statement(s) must be received by the NETSL Vice-President no later than Friday, February 5, 2010.
Current members of the NETSL Executive Board are not eligible for consideration.
Nominees shall have made contributions to library technical services in one or more of the following areas:
Leadership in professional associations at local, state, regional or national level
Contributions or innovations in technical services
Significant contributions to professional literature
Conduct of studies or research in technical services

Past Recipients include:
Lynda Kresge, Birdie MacLennan, Dr. Sheila Intner, Robert L. Cunningham, Matthew Beacom, Catherine Willis, Lisa Palmer, David Miller, and Martha Rice Sanders.

Please send nominations and inquiries to:
Amira Aaron
NETSL Vice-President/President-Elect
781-248-1806 (cell)

NETSL is a section of the New England Library Association and is affiliated with the ALCTS Council of Regional Groups. For more information on NETSL, visit our website at: