Monthly Archives: April 2012

MARC21 must die–according to one internet user

Aren’t life’s serendipitous moments amazing? I find it fascinating when things in my life suddenly collide. This time: cataloging and Code Academy.

First, have you heard of Code Academy? It’s a website that teaches people code in a simple yet robust manner in order to make the world more code/tech literate. Be warned, once you start it’s easy to get hooked! When I do get around to logging back in and coding again, I usually do a bunch of exercises in a sitting. The chunks are broken down really well so it’s easy to come back to and you do quite a few exercises in a whole lesson. More lessons are added to the site, especially since I started a couple of months ago and now it’s becoming a bigger website.

Today I sat down for the first time in a while and picked up the coding again. After I finally finished another segment (yes!), I stumbled upon an MARC21 lesson. In the description, the submitted says:

This is a project to build a short script to read a raw MARC record and display it in a more readable format. I hope that it gives cataloguing coders an idea of what a MARC21 record looks like under the hood and helps clarify the cataloguer’s opinions as to whether MARC must or mustn’t die. (HINT: it must). For more information about this project, MARC21, and a HTML version of the finished code, see However, do note that 1. This project was designed for someone who has done the first few weeks of the Code Year course. By necessity it introduces some new things and an attempt has been made to explain them and encourage the cataloguer to enter the actual lines of Javascript that make up the programme. In any case, the Hints always contain the correct code needed to proceed. 2. Output will often consist of many lines, so sometimes you will have to scroll up in the console to see what has happened. 3. Some lines (including line 1!) will always produce errors, although the script will still run. This is because MARC uses BAD and DANGEROUS characters. BAD and DANGEROUS characters are of course common in the world of cataloguing (mentioning no names…). #catcode @Orangeaurochs

Ha! The purpose of this lesson is to show catalogers just how ugly and messy MARC21 is and how it should be replaced already. I’m sure Orangeaurochs has to be an RDA supporter, since that too calls for a replacement for MARC21. On Twitter, I found his professional blog with a post that explains his Code Academy project a bit more–sweet! Also, he has more links to MARC21 information as well, for a more in-depth look, it seems. I haven’t been following the #catcode on Twitter but perhaps I will now, having gotten back into this once again.

I enjoy Code Academy and I hope you will try it out if you haven’t already. The website makes it learning code accessible to all, and there has been much refinement in the systems and interface that I’ve noticed over the months I’ve used it. Plus, the Q&A tab is very useful so check it out if the hints and tinkering still leave you stumped!

Code literacy–add that to your resume and job skills; it’s not too difficult, promise.

Comments Off on MARC21 must die–according to one internet user

Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , ,

Happy National Library Week!

This week was National Library Week. To celebrate, ProQuest offered free access to some of their most used databases and resources, along with giving away donations to libraries. Sweet deal, for sure!

My blog post proclaiming libraries were a stable necessity in society embraces the spirit of NLW. Twitter, blogs, and local library webpages have commemorated this week as well, encouraging people to use their libraries and enumerating how they celebrated this week.

However, next week Harvard Library Strategic Conversations will host a debate to determine if libraries are obsolete. Who knew we needed this debate? Although, some people must think that it’s about time. After my previous blog post, we all know which side I fall on–I’m just amused that I made my post last night before I saw the information about this debate. It should be good and I hope they post a full video afterwards! If you do visit the above site, the embedded clip there is from a 2007 debate and not the Harvard one, which is scheduled for April 18, 2012; if you are around there, you should go and listen then vote!

Libraries definitely need more attention and use, which essentially comes down to the librarians themselves and marketing plus providing wanted services. Many libraries already do a super job but it is now more than ever that we should all be much more vocal about libraries and their great offerings.

On that note, I’m learning to love RDA, a way to be vocal within libraries as catalogers. I blogged about looking past RDA not long ago, but having looked into it, while not perfect, it’s definitely an interesting turn for cataloging that could be spectacularly beneficial. An official member now of the RDA-L listserv, RDA issues will certainly be on my mind from here on. It’s exciting to be at the forefront of a new standard. Since I won’t be retiring any time soon, as the RDA joke goes, I’m ready to get acquainted for the start of what will likely be a long-lasting cataloger-cataloging standard relationship. Bring it on!

Also, if you didn’t catch my photo post earlier, I am a librarian with Pearle Vision glasses, thank you very much.

And show your libraries some love this week: stop in and say hi to the staff and use those resources and services! Happy National Library Week!

Comments Off on Happy National Library Week!

Posted by on April 12, 2012 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , ,


Librarian glasses from Pearle Vision

Librarian glasses from Pearle Vision

Yes, I bought these glasses at Pearle Vision. Perfect for a librarian, wouldn’t you say? However, I mostly wear my contacts instead.

1 Comment

Posted by on April 12, 2012 in Uncategorized


Libraries as foundational necessities: a stable service for society

Today this thought hit me because it was trash day. I stood in the kitchen making my oatmeal when the garbage truck rumbled by, collecting the trash from each house on the block. Right then I thought, libraries are like garbage collection.

Garbage collection, same as mail and package delivery, is a service that will always have a place in American society. Going door to door to remove, or deliver, things needs to occur to keep our neighborhoods and society flowing. Though many communications are now digital and mobile, the Internet, I’ll wager, has increased package delivery since wonderful websites with let you chose and pay for items online but the goods still need to be physically brought to you. These services won’t go away, at least not in the foreseeable future.

Same with jails, churches, and public parks/swimming pools. All are physical spaces that service a societal need that cannot be replaced with a virtual system or interface. Some people need to be locked up for wrong doings. Many enjoy attending a location at the same time each week for spiritual and religious, as well as social, reasons. Not everyone lives in a place with a yard or a pool, so communal ones not only offer those possibilities to those who don’t have them but also act as another communal spaces to come together.

Like all of these services and places, libraries join the list. As librarians, we aren’t really the “gatekeepers” now that the Internet and online information are used by the public. But the physical space and responsibility remains. Even if all works in the future are “born digital”, physical books will remain and last as they have for centuries. In fact, if people only buy ebooks on devices, perhaps the library will be more valued with all the academic and pre-ebook works. While I’m not trying to describe a museum or archives, it seems my description has taken me there, though that’s not what I mean to imply. To the contrary, libraries are and will continue to be a hub for knowledge and advancement, a learning commons for individual and group work.

It’s really the librarians that make all of that possible: structuring the space, providing help and instruction, connecting people with information. Whether or not you believe reference is dead, people want to connect with other people, and need to, for the services that began this post. Anyone can and does search Google but who is there to help when the search isn’t turning up what’s desired? Librarians. Who puts on programming at libraries that include video game tournaments and teenage book clubs reading vampire novels? Librarians. Geeks don’t need to take over the library because they are already there! Librarians are on all social media and use technology–some more than others, but it’s an ever increasing trend. Why? Because libraries need to stay on top of these things to provide the best service to society as it grows and changes. As it’s been said, librarians usually lead the way when it comes to technology and online services. Plus, now with the current Pearle Vision sexy librarian commercial, patron use is bound to up-tick; alright the ad may use “naughty” and stereotype us with collecting late fees, but hey, if it brings more users in…

Regardless, libraries remain a foundational necessity and stable service to society no matter what comes our way.


Posted by on April 11, 2012 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: