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Tag Archives: MARC21

Famous!: At least among librarians and educators…who listen to the LiTTech podcast

My awesome friend, Emily Thompson the Learning Technologies Librarian at SUNY Oswego, invited me to speak as a guest on her podcast, LitTech. I enjoyed explaining cataloging, touching on RDA and FRBR and the  future of cataloging. She includes great podcast notes with links.

Really, there’s not much more that I can say about it…please go listen, especially if you aren’t a cataloger or librarian.

So, want to hear the inside scoop about subject headings, get an explanation of cataloging, hear some library science history, or why paraprofessional jobs in cataloging are become more prevalent, listen to LiTTech show 29 and let me know what you think!

Enjoy!

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Note: The above screen shot is only an image, so the listen now/play buttons won’t work; click the link above that says LiTTech 29! ūüôā ¬†(This will be obvious for most of my blog readers but my mom and family does read it, too!)

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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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 http://www.aurochs.org/aurlog/2012/03/20/marc-viewer-codecademy-project/. 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.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Cataloging is like a car: how to explain cataloging to non-catalogers

Nothing too exciting has crossed my virtual desk lately. Pretty standard stuff with subject headings that I’ve seen before, or just don’t call for any extended pause. One interesting item was title¬†50 jobs in 50 states in which the author traveled around the country in 50 weeks to work in every state, as a way of doing something productive with his life after not being able to land a full-time job after college. But the sub. heads weren’t earth-shattering.

I did notice an oddity with sub. heads–everything is plural. Delimiter x examinations. Delimiter v study guides, etc. Though there are exceptions such as web site development, yet it cousin is web sites. But that’s not nearly enough to write a whole post on!

How does one explain cataloging to a non-cataloger?

When I introduce myself to non-libraians, I say that I am a catalog librarian but continue on to explain that what I create is the information you see when you search a library catalog, the record with the title and author and description of the item. Sure, this is pretty basic and perhaps still not helpful enough for some people. Maybe after hearing “librarian”, they have already tuned out anyway, or just think of people checking books out and sitting at a reference desk staring at a computer screen.

But that doesn’t get at my question still about¬†what is cataloging.

This weekend my reference librarian husband¬†asked me what AACR2, MARC21, and subject headings were and how they work together. Being the Emerging Technologies Librarian, he’s tech-savvy and has looked at many catalog records while helping students and faculty but he didn’t take a cataloging course nor has worked with MARC records himself. Really, he was asking about their purpose. My first instinct, for some reason, was to compare them to cars.

Cataloging is like a car. AACR2 is the idea, the concept, the form (thanks, Plato!); a car has wheels, doors, a body, a steering wheel, and so on. In general, most cars look similar because the hood goes in front, the trunk in back, wheels on the sides, a roof on top. There are choices: engines can go in front or in back, doors can be two or four or lift vertically, side airbags are optional but becoming more prevalent. AACR2 assumes certain things in a record such as main entry, statement of responsibility, and publication information. Main entry varies depending on the item, as title or author. Authors can also be added entries instead of main. But all in all, the content that goes into a record is similar to parts that make up a car.

Next, MARC21 is the details, the execution, the item itself. Car types vary but each make and model is arranged a particular way. The exterior color, the interior material, the dashboard knobs and buttons, the hub caps all form an individual item. A car can be embellished with dealer extras and upgrades, or bumper sticker, a new paint job, or even damage from an accident that make the car more unique and distinctive. Though it has a multitude of details, each person sees different aspects of that particular car; someone might notice the scratch on the door, the customized flames on the hood, or size and shape of the headlights. MARC21 holds the details of an item, whether there is a cover title that differs from the title page, a series title, or if a disc is missing. These basic and distinctive aspects of an item truly describe it and its nature. However, I might catalog it differently from someone else, which is where variation arises; someone may add a 500 note to include added information, others might decide that the classification should be different for their collection and library. Though MARC21 contains the item’s description and details, each cataloger chooses what to represent and how.

Subject headings group related items through the ideas, concepts, people, and places they represent. Cars are described in many ways: by color, size, type, purpose, shape, brand, and on. Each description can change just what is being talked about: blue cars, SUVs, supercars, cars that look like cubes, Fords. A car will have numerous descriptors, some that are more distinctive that others. Subject headings are the same. I catalog a book about how to use the iPhone and choose to use a sub. head for iPhone and smartphones and mobile computing. But another book about iPhone app development requires tweaking those sub. heads and adding more such as application software delimiter x development, and bringing out the programming aspects of the other sub. heads with a delimiter x. Though they are related items, they get different terms, some similar and some not.

This version is extended from the version I gave Steve but the gist is the same. When I asked him if it helped, he said no.  :/  Maybe the life of a cataloger is only understood by other catalogers. What do you think? Does this example work? Is there a better one?

Addition (July 11, 2012): RDA will replace AACR2, though for not it will live along side. RDA is a different set of rules and guidelines for building the same general thing: a record for an item. From my understanding, FRBR could also fit under what AACR2 currently covers as well; it works in tandem with RDA to help shape a record for an item and the relations of information within it. Yet FRBR doesn’t provide much in the way of strict rules and decisions–it’s the big picture whereas RDA digs down a bit deeper. FRBR could be the car brochure while RDA is the car manual. And now with linked data in the picture as well, MARC records may be more versatile than ever, able to switch and swap out information as need for the users, and truly trick out records to become resources. See my ALA Annual post on the all-day workshop or the general overview session for more about linked data and cataloging.

P.S. We love Top Gear, hope you enjoy the clip! I’ll have to be more than a cataloger if I every really want to own a Zonda.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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