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iTunes needs artist authority control: it’s not the only one

Last week at a concert, The Sidekicks performed with Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, and So Long Albatross.

The Sidekicks Facebook page

The Sidekicks are an Ohio band that I hadn’t heard before so I looked them up on iTunes but their name pulled up other albums by different bands with the same name.

The Sidekicks albums in iTunesNot all of these are the albums of The Sidekicks that I saw perform. In libraries and their online catalogs, this problem comes up with regularity and has been solved by creating an authority file that allows for authority control of names, subjects, and series. This is a fancy way of saying that there is a single list of unique names, for example, in order to ensure that the correct person gets adds to the correct work; while this is the goal, it’s not always the case in the authority file since there are still undifferentiated records, meaning that the names haven’t been researched and sorted out into separate, distinct records. That is the case with The Sidekicks in iTunes–the album artists are undifferentiated. However, the biography tab is for the Ohio band:

The Sidekicks bio in iTunesAnd yet, the genre is listed as country. The band I heard is certainly rock and punk, not full-blown country. After over a decade of dealing with music, iTunes should have its act together. They clearly need a cataloger…or, ahem, a metadata specialist/manager. The bio itself describes the band as punk. Seriously, iTunes doesn’t have a script that checks genre against bios against albums and flags possible differences?

A new way to describe authority files and control is to talk about author id. It is the same idea but instead of relying on particular languages and name translations, the unique identifier is a number and all of the person’s various forms of their name and any known personal information is listed in the record attached to the number. There are several attempts to create a consistent, reliable source that bridges internationally (VIAF) or for researchers use (ORCHID).

This got me thinking, what about other music websites? Do others do a good job separating The Sidekicks or not? How does Amazon.com do? Well, not so hot it turns out:

Amazon.com The Sidekicks search resultsAlso on Amazon, clicking the artist name doesn’t pull up all of their albums together since at least one is listed as Sidekicks instead of The Sidekicks. Clearly they too need to reconcile their metadata. Streaming music websites vary on how they handle the band. With LastFM, The Sidekicks from Ohio are front and center but there is a length note talking about similarly named bands:

LastFM The Sidekicks

LastFM The SidekicksAlthough, maybe not after all because the albums for The Sidekicks also have the country and bluegrass tribute ones listed:

LastFM The Sidekicks albumsSo, how about Pandora?

Pandora The Sidekicks seed stationPandora only has the country band called The Sidekicks:

Pandora The Sidekicks bioGuess I won’t be listening to the Ohio The Sidekicks on Pandora. One last streaming option…how about Spotify?

Spotify The Sidekicks search resultsSpotify also has undifferentiated artists, grouping the different The Sidekicks albums together. Again, though, the bio only describes the Ohio band:

Spotify The Sidekicks bioInterestingly, this bio on Spotify is the same as the one in iTunes and mentions exactly when they released which albums. Why is that important? It’s the type of information that librarians, catalogers actually, seek out when forming an authority record for a name. Based on this, we can rule out that this band did not play the bluegrass, country, tribute albums. Since the bio doesn’t mention recent works, we would look for other sources of reliable information about the band, such as their website or a professional music/album review, and cite it in the authority record for them. Also, we could then create a record for the country band in the authority file as well to show the distinction. Many libraries these days are unable to do their own in-house authority control for one reason or another but it remains a crucial part of cataloging and metadata because in the end it helps the user find exactly what they are looking for and distinguish that there are people or places, etc., with similar names.

Let’s take a quick look at two different John Smith records in the LC authority file to show how catalogers do authority control:

LC Authority File John Smith search resultsThis is just the top portion of the search results but already we see that there were many John Smiths around the same time period. Each record includes enough information so that anyone looking at it can tell the various people apart. Usually that may include a middle initial or name, a birth year, and sometimes a death year. There can also be additional information tacked on at the end of the authorized heading (the names that we see listed), such as occupation or certification, etc.

LC authority record John Smith 1

LC authority record John Smith 2Besides the birth and death years, catalogers put in 670 notes to provide evidence for the dates included in the name. The second record even says where the information is from and the date that the cataloger added it to this authority record: “Oxford DNB online, 3 July 2007″. Another common way to obtain information is to reach out to the author, if living, or call the publisher, which is then also noted in 670. Links to websites can also be provided.

Metadata for authority control is crucial, especially on the Internet, in keeping people, places, works unique. Catalogers and librarians already have the skills and training needed to untangle and organize these issues. As linked data becomes a reality and libraries begin incorporating our catalog data into the Internet and search engines, we must hold on to these standards and carry them forward into the web. Programmers behind software, apps, and websites also need to realize that we have this valuable knowledge and know how to do what should be done, like having unique artist ids for musicians and conducting authority control frequently. Maybe this path can create more librarian jobs for the future, using our degrees in a wider capacity and context beyond the library and its catalog.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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There’s always something more : farewell to Chicago

How did the conference fly by? ALA is always too packed and too short. For Monday, I relaxed a bit went over to the MCP Center later in the afternoon.

Part of the fun of attending a conference in person is the connections made with people you otherwise wouldn’t meet. The Annual Library Camp session fosters round table, small discussion for whichever topics interested the attendees. In a way, it is very similar to an unconference. Due to the smaller size of the group, we decided on four tables and split up to discuss either multiculturalism, mentorship, community engagement, and social media. After a while, we shared with the room and swapped tables to start another round. The social media table morphed into cataloging and metadata with the four others and myself, no surprise there, who came to that table. I met a variety of librarians that I wouldn’t have otherwise and learned about topics concerning other librarians.

For my final session of ALA Annual 2013, I went to a talk about altmetrics. At Conversation Starters: Altmetrics, the decoupled journal, and the future of scholarly publishing, Jason Priem, co-founder of ImpactStory, described altmetrics and the various impacts that the web now affords scholars. This is where ImpactStory becomes an exciting possibility of capturing the variety of online connections and interactions between scholars in order to document meaningful impact in their field, beyond print journal citation as in the past. There are other alternatives out there and more will arise since altmetrics is up and coming, and worth being involved in or at the very least watching it develop.

Jason Priem’s graphic from his presentation:

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After these final two sessions, Steve and I had a quiet dinner together at an awesome sushi bar. Most librarians had left already, if not Sunday evening. I did bring too much SWAG back–I’ve learned to truck through the exhibit hall at a good pace, a feat in itself as you’ll agree, and managed only to be coming back with two books and a can cosy. I’d rather enjoy sessions than collect SWAG but that’s just me.

While there are always too many sessions to attend, and more worth sitting in on, it’s good to not try to pack all day, everyday full, especially if your hanging out in the evenings too. I find it hard adhering to this myself. But I loved ALA Annual in Chicago this year, and even though I’m tired, it was worth it since I met great people, saw friends, learned a lot, and became more involved.

Thank goodness it is 4th of July weekend! Beach time is way overdue. Enjoy your long weekends–I sure will!

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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“Lascivious librarian story time” : nightlife fun in Chicago with librarians

“Lascivious librarian story time” : nightlife fun in Chicago with librarians

My Sunday morning began with a presentation in the ALA job placement center. The state of academic library jobs : what you need to know to be competitive in the current job market by Penny Beile from the University of Central Florida talked about the academic librarian job market and the breakdown of job postings and their statistics. She addressed the infamous study that we all know about as librarians, that claimed LIS master’s was the worst degree. Her concluding advice was to gain as much experience pre-degree as well as during the program and to set yourself apart and impress people so that you can set yourself up for being hired. I attended this talk in order to hear what kind of advice is being given to current graduate students. As is expected, it was well attended.

Then I headed over immediately to the BibFrame session. Library of Congress BibFrame update forum did not fit everyone in the room even though we were seated in a large auditorium. The session itself was recorded and will be posted on the LC website fairly soon. Roberta Schafer from LC described their overall vision and plan for the future, which also included BibFrame as a connector for all of their initiatives and future consolidation of services and reading rooms. Her portion showed the possibilities and potentials that such a framework for metadata could provide. Next Eric Miller of Zepheria covered what BibFrame community profiles, how they work, and the broader implications not only within the library community but within the Internet itself. The two next speakers highlighted their BibFrame projects. Jeremy Nelson from Colorado College gave a technical yet approachable explanation of the BibFrame Redis data store that he works on at his library. The files are on GitHub if you are interested in looking at the code. Vinod Chachra from VTLS showed how BibFrame can make metadata and the next generation catalog a visualization within a browser. This is such a cool idea to me and that makes a lot of sense especially as touchscreens and smart phone tablet devices are taking over Internet usage. Chachra argued for using ISAD over FRBR as well, since it is more flexible and malleable. The KCPL will unveil a Civil War collection using the website navigator technology from VTLS so watch for that in the late summer. Finally Jean Godby from OCLC finished the session by discussing OCLC’s projects with schema.org and BibFrame. The work is in its beginning phases but it sounds very promising and OCLC is trying to incorporate the library terminology and needs within the vocabulary and goals of schema.org so that we can truly have metadata that is of the Internet instead of being on it. I enjoy hearing about the progress that is being made, especially the early experimental projects that are trying to figure out the best ways to use and apply and incorporate BibFrame and library metadata in the wider Internet community.

An area of librarianship that is still fairly new but developing really rapidly is Digital Humanities and in particular Digital History. Digital History : new methodologies facilitated by new technologies covered both the practical and theoretical aspects of this topic. This session was also recorded but it wasn’t mentioned when or where it would be posted. The first two speakers enumerated the various tools and online resources useful for Digital History collections and projects. Anne Flannery and Adam Strohm, The Newberry Library, segmented their talk into different areas: access, content creation, identifying narratives, interaction with materials, and new modes of authorship. Michael J. Kramer and Josh Hohn, Northwestern, discussed the importance of Digital History and showcased their work with the Berkeley folk music festival collection. Kramer conducts research within the online collection for himself as well as creating and teaching a course with Hohn as a means to engage and convey new ways to analyze history by the students. Not knowing much about this topic of librarianship, I found this session very fascinating and useful.

As with most ALA conferences, there are various social events throughout the entire time there and it can be hard to choose what to go to in the evenings. Steve snagged an invite to the Thompson Reuters reception, getting a +1 for me. Light appetizers and drinks along with the outdoor patio made for a great start to the evening. We chatted with his rep and a couple of others ones, carrying on conversations about travel that they do, places worth going especially for food, and other fun topics. As Steve likes to say, vendors are people too–a joke I like since I work for ProQuest!

After the reception, we hopped onto a city bus with a librarian friend to go see a librarian-themed burlesque show at The Backroom, which usually has live bands but also puts on private events. Before we arrived, we didn’t realize that it was themed! How fun though. A new librarian friend, met at this ALA, told us about it the day prior and met us there. The place was packed, with librarians, so someone spread the word about the theme. They even provided ALA flags for name tags at the front desk! The show included lots of glasses, hair pulled back in buns or swept up, skirts and blouses, the Reading Rainbow theme song, the use of a scanner as a prop, a sexy male puppet show, book props, along with a librarian lemonade drink. Good drinks and food in a room full of fun librarians made for an awesome night. The show had lots of humor tailored to the crowd (i.e. book humor, etc.) and was tasteful. If this is what Chicago offers, I can only imagine what someone will put together for Annual in Las Vegas next year!

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Annual 2013 : it’s not just librarians doing the spotting!

Before heading to the conference center this morning, we stopped at a local coffee shop and while ordering, the baristas asked if we were librarians. Yes, we all were. He said he’s been playing “spot the librarian” downtown yesterday. Clearly librarians aren’t the only ones who play it! They loved talking to us and one said that the world needs more libraries, so make sure you go stop by the Overflow coffee bar if you’re near State and 16th and say hi to these wonderful guys and gals, and grab an awesome cup of coffee.

Like all days at ALA, today was jam packed. Since it’s always hard to pick and choose what exactly to attend, I began my morning a bit later so that I could attend more sessions this afternoon. My day began with the 10:30 Cataloging Norms Interest Group that I co-vice chaired this year. Despite the room being in an odd location in the conference center, but then again what’s not, we had an awesome turn out for our session. The speakers covered a range of topics all centered around metadata and cataloging, and how to help users best find exactly what they’re looking for as well as how to be successful with their use of information and images. One speaker talked specifically about defining accuracy and completeness of cataloging records, which can be expanded to metadata in general and so the topics made for a cohesive and interesting panel this morning.

Next, I headed over to Library Code Year IG at the Hilton Chicago, a fairly short bus right away but with so many people waiting in the line for it, I wasn’t sure that I’d make the first bus. Thankfully I did. This group had put on the Python preconference all day session that I wasn’t able to make yet I heard that the people who did attend really enjoyed it. At the interest group session, a lot was discussed as this is still a new group being formed and deciding how exactly to provide useful opportunities for attendees in the future, the goal is to facilitate librarians learning how to code. I will be co-chairing this group over the next year so watch for various announcements on listservs to find out more about it. It is a joint LITA/ALCTS interest group which encourages interested librarians from both areas of ALA.

The final session of my day was Multiple identities: managing authorities in repositories and digital collections. A librarian From Hong Kong University spoke about cleaning up name authorities and creating a research and researchers digital repository that was useful for the entire university. The second talk was given by three librarians from the University of Notre Dame who are working with the Gates foundation to create a database for malaria research to help with the eradication of it. Although they are both bigger institutions and the grand scale truly makes the efforts worthwhile, it was still good to hear about the process and what kind of software they are using and the things that they had to consider when going about these projects. Once again this topic ties back to accuracy and completeness of information, from my first morning session today, while also begging the question of what information best serves users. For example, at Notre Dame, various people use their database for the research and so they have included more indexing than might normally be done since they want to ensure that people doing searches will find what they intend to look for even if the term searched isn’t exactly the MeSH heading.

Throughout the day, I ventured into the exhibit hall a few times. It’s always a jungle in there, it seems!

I kept this evening a little quieter, going out to dinner with a few friends and then heading back to my place to write these blog posts to keep track of what I’ve done the past couple of days here. Although it can be difficult sometimes to make time to get these posts up on the same day, as seen with my Friday post that showed up earlier this evening, they give me the chance to reflect on the sessions that I attended today and make connections between them, my prior knowledge, and generate ideas and thoughts for the future. I find that the best part of ALA is the inspiration and food-for-thought that the sessions, conference interactions, and networking provide me.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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#ala2013 : hash tags and socials

#ala2013 : hash tags and socials

The first day of ALA Annual in Chicago and already the conference is busy and in full swing! Even before it began this year, hash tags on Twitter were flying by with excitement, though not always the “official” ones. It’s always humorous to see the variations on Twitter but we do want consistent use so that everyone can find all the relent Tweets–a priority of mine anyway as a cataloger! Lets agree on metadata, especially for hash tags. Maybe next time ALA can add them to the session info in the book, scheduler, and placard for the rooms…and make the conference one a part of the logo!

Even though it was Friday, the conference had many regular sessions, in addition to the majority of all-day pre-conference events. I was surprised to see the conference center was full and buzzing that morning already.

First up was the Annual Unconference, which was completely packed and standing room only by the time I showed up. Clearly the room was too small and more people showed up than they had expected but the discussion was really fruitful: user expectations versus reality for content, access, and search result; check out history and recommendation systems versus user privacy; circulation and count of items, especially print material; and the role of the library, what it is and should or can be. That’s as much as I caught before heading to the Networking Uncommons to look at the schedule again for the rest of the weekend.

Despite the size of the conference, I always run into friends, co-workers, and librarians that I met at other Annuals and Midwinters. Lunches, dinners, coffee breaks, hallway chats are one of the highlights of these conferences. But then there are the times when I cannot seem to connect with someone due to different schedules. You can’t see everyone, even when you plan to sometimes!

Competencies and education for a career in cataloging IG turned out to be exactly what I tried to find out at MidWinter: how LC conducted their training program internally for RDA. Melanie Polutta works at LC and was an internal trainer, and even an early tester when RDA first came out. She discussed how LC conducted training at the various stages of testing and adoption within LC, the challenges, and some of her lessons learned in hopes that the attending librarians could take away something to help them with training at their own institutions. Most of her advice revolved around understanding the standards and concepts inside and out. That includes terminology, the structure and content of the documentation itself, the theory and purpose, how to apply the standards versus when to use cataloger’s judgment, and deciding what cataloger’s judgment means for local policies. Time and practice are also the obvious other take aways. That and to divorce RDA from MARC when learning and talking about it with others; use publication information instead of referring to the 264 (previously 260) field. Her recommendation was for everyone to learn RDA, and FRBR, at least somewhat since whether you catalog in it or not, there will be hybrid records from here onward along with RDA elements in some AACR2 records.

For the final official ALA event of the day, I attended the Emerging Leaders poster session. One of my friends was a part of this great program this year and so it was exciting to go and hear about her project but also see what everyone else was doing this past year. People are split into various groups surrounding topics of interest and they conduct research and then present their findings at poster sessions. It’s a great way to hone project management skills and develop professional rapport within ALA. The topics vary and this year they included assessing the value of the Emerging Leaders program, assessing the retention rate of first year ALA members, and looking into the funding of the ALCTS journal.

And then came the most fun part of the day, hitting various receptions and happy hours around the city. UMich SI put on a get together for alums. I caught up with many fellow classmates from grad school that I haven’t seen for a few years and met many people who had graduated before me. It is always fun to hear about what people are doing now and the cool projects that they’re working on. Next we met up with other friends at an Irish pub, although we got caught in a bit of rain just as we were almost there. That meant waiting it out and drying off a bit, which we were happy about just staying put and hanging out. To wrap up the evening, we headed to the President’s Reception on the terrace of the Hilton Chicago overlooking Millennium Park. Midnight on a balcony with champagne networking with librarians as the red-orange moon glowed over the lit up city–not much could be better. Walking back to our place, a fat rat scurried by us as if to remind us all that we were in fact in an urban setting; the guys on the sidewalk joked that it must be New York not Chicago.

Also, the AirBnB that I’m staying at with my husband and our friend is a great walkable location and perfect for the conference. There’s even another librarian here too!

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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There’s a subject heading for that!?: three-dimensional printing

One pizza, coming right up! Made for you, by you, while you’re in space. 3D printers and printing have gained considerable attention, and rightly so, over the past year. Everything from DYI household appliance fixes to guns and how to regulate and control them, to the latest news in the past month: NASA funding 3D food printing, and pizza is up first. Really, if you were an astronaut, wouldn’t you miss pizza, too?

Users will flood the reference desk wanting information on how to make pizza from 3D printers…if they aren’t already! Good news, the subject heading “three-dimensional printing” is authorized and in use. It is a narrower term for “rapid prototyping”:

LC Authorities screenshot

 

At first this surprised me, being the consumer-minded American that I am. Of course people and companies create prototypes before building the actual, final item that’s for sale. It’s just something that I hadn’t thought too much about before. However, it made perfect sense that 3D printing is a narrower term since the printer rapid makes something that isn’t the actual item.

Parsing out rapid prototyping from 3D printing isn’t too hard, especially with the help of the robust scope notes in their LC authorities records:

LC authorities screen shot

The authority record for 3D printing is just as long:

LC authorities screen shot

 

Basically, 3D printing focuses on the act of additive creation of an object from a printer, whereas rapid prototyping encompasses the concept and reasons for it, with business and design concerns in mind.

As the DIY, maker movement continues to grow, so will 3D printing. The machines themselves aren’t too expensive, considering, and will only become cheap in years to come. While every home, let alone person, probably won’t have one of their own, there will certainly be publicly available ones or people you can pay to produce you an item from their printer. Libraries are already starting to offer these capabilities, on a small scale–see the end of the post for more information, including my academic librarian friend who has a printer at her university!

LC has more resources on rapid prototyping as of today:

LC catalog screen shot

 

However, 3D printing books will likely outnumber them soon:

Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 3.51.23 PM

 

The books themselves under 3D printing struck me since there was such a variety. Yes, among the five books there was a variety, not vast mind you. I expected to see all five about MakerBot  since that’s the brand that comes to mind for me. Still, the works cover slightly different aspects of 3D printing:

LC catalog screen shot

 

I love DIY (just check out my Pinterest boards) and making things from scratch, especially food, but I haven’t dabbled in 3D printing yet. I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard to convince my techie librarian husband that we need a printer to play around with. Truly, it’s all about learning the tech so that we can help the users when all the libraries have one. Right?

After writing this post, I want pizza! Good thing Marco’s Pizza is just down the road…

 

 

Want to know even more about 3D printing? This is such a hot, and growing, topic that is being talked about all of the time.

My librarian friend Emily Thompson at SUNY Oswego helps students print research needs, such as a 3D snake skull.

While I haven’t watched this TED talk yet, Lisa Harouni discusses 3D printing.

Mashable will keep you up-to-the-minute with recent news stories in their 3D printing section.

One episode of The New Disruptors podcast discusses the maker movement and 3D printing. I love this podcast, and just recently discovered it!

Search the web and you will come up with tons of information. Check out YouTube for awesome videos, too!

 

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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