I had an interesting chat with a friend regarding cataloging rules and tools that I wanted to share with you all. I know it can sometimes be hard to follow someone else’s chat transcript – but here you go:
Brooke: I think I want to try gluing my catordogging cripple speak to my lack of coding knowledge
Brooke: You know how there’s dublin core
Brooke: RDA and MARC
Brooke: as well as other junk
Brooke: and a bunch of folks that use Koha for personal collections
Brooke: I think all of the interfaces I have ever seen with cataloguing
Brooke: have fields and boxes and junk to fill in
Brooke: they just aren’t particularly interactive
Brooke: is that so with you?
Nicole: yes – if you mean dragging and dropping as interactive
Nicole: it’s a pretty static form where you hit a key to add a row
Nicole: and tab through the fields
Nicole: in OCLC it’s hitting enter to add a field below and shift+enter to add a field above
Nicole: in Voyager is F3 above and F4 below
Brooke: but is any of that stuff actually important to the aboutness of a work?
Brooke: is there anything inherent to this interface that _aids_ in cataloging?
Nicole: um … I guess not – it aids in usability for me – I often forget a field and need to add it in
Brooke: suppose, and I know I’m losing my mind, that the program asked you what it wanted and that stuff was in plain language
Brooke: such as
Brooke: What is the title of the material?
Brooke: and had a simple text box
Brooke: then it said something like what’s the author?
Nicole: the problem comes in with MARC and AACR2 rules
Brooke: then it said something like is the author corporate?
Nicole: the title isn’t always a 245
Nicole: and there are different titles
Nicole: there’s a uniform title in another field
Nicole: and a different title in 246
Nicole: and the author isn’t always a 100
Nicole: sometimes it’s a 110
Nicole: or a 710
Nicole: so without letting me say what field it is “title” isn’t enough
Brooke: but those instances have a related question, don’t they?
Nicole: but I think it would take me longer to answer the questions then to type the field myself
Nicole: it might be dumbing cataloging down too much – which would work for people with no experience – but those of us with experience would start to get annoyed – I think
Nicole: it’s like this contractor I worked with once
Nicole: he always wanted to copy paste cause he couldn’t type
Nicole: but I could type faster than he could copy paste
Nicole: so I always did it that way
Brooke: do you think they’re really going to change those rules?
Nicole: MARC rules?
Nicole: AACR2 – that’s what RDA is – but I haven’t read it so I have no idea how different it is
Brooke: but isn’t that curious?
Nicole: curious? no – it’s stupid as hell
Brooke: I mean you’re changing the basis for the stuff that a record is
Brooke: but you aren’t changing _how_ you’re inputting the record itself
Nicole: aren’t we? I don’t know – isn’t RDA more like XML? and I agree with you – the how that I hate is the stupid rules about periods and semi-colons –
Brooke: all of these disparate methods of working round or gluing to MARC is just kind of funny
Nicole: I’m not sure … see even as I was learning MARC I thought it was pretty cool
Nicole: I mean think of the power in the data by using so many fields and subfields
Nicole: there is so much there
Brooke: (punctuation and a bunch of convention seems to be disappearing with RDA, but I am far from a cataloger…)
Nicole: the problem is with the systems that read the data …
Nicole: they don’t take advantage of all of the work I put into my MARC records
Brooke: uh huh
Brooke: the problem isn’t either the system OR marc, it’s both, yes?
Nicole: and if I didn’t have to follow AACR2 then I could work much faster
Nicole: I don’t know
Nicole: maybe MARC could be updated a bit
Nicole: but the systems are the big problem as I see it
Nicole: they don’t read all of the amazing data we have …
Brooke: (Yes I weight the systems heavier in the blame equation, too.)
Nicole: when I have a photocopy of a dissertation I put in data about the photocopier and that data never shows in our catalog
Nicole: I enter data about the fact that our books have been deacidified (yes there is a field for that) but that never shows
Nicole: I enter all kinds of valuable archival data that never shows to the user – which is the system
Nicole: the system doesn’t read all MARC fields
Nicole: and if it did it would have to come up with a reasonable way to display it all….
Nicole: maybe because I was a db admin before learning MARC – I like MARC – I like all the fields – I like how they have the potential to link together
Nicole: I enter in the fact that a title was indexed in X index and that’s an awesome resource for a researcher – but my system doesn’t link that to the index – it just says if you want you can look here – but you have to figure out how to do that yourself
Brooke: I agree completely
Brooke: I think you said what I anticipated you might, which is just nuts
Brooke: I think the cataloguers are beating sense into me thick skull
Brooke: here is one thing I have always wondered about
Brooke: Our Library types ought have their own out of box distribution
Brooke: you, as an academic, want a deliciously complex cataloguing setup
Brooke: BUT the interface for you is simple
Brooke: you want a text box, rev her up, I know my fields, I’ll data dump em into a box
Brooke: yeah, I might forget summat, but as long as I can fix that, no big deal
Nicole: that’s not necessarily an academic thing – that’s a cataloger thing …
Brooke: I was getting to that
Brooke: large publics would want that, too
Nicole: I agree that there need to be different types of systems for academic, special, and public libraries though
Nicole: the problem at the special library I used to work at was that the system was built mostly for academics
Nicole: and it didn’t fit some of our very particular needs
Nicole: that’s where the modular system comes in
Nicole: and is needed
Nicole: but that still doesn’t change the cataloging aspect – I think if there is one professional cataloger in your library then they’re going to want a system pretty similar to what I want …
Nicole: they’re used to it and they know their job
Nicole: that said
Nicole: it sort of sounds like “we’ve always done it that way” and I hate that….
Nicole: so if someone comes up with a better more efficient way – I’m all for it
Brooke: you get what you want is the reason OS is
Brooke: I’ve just had this problem rattling in me brain for at least 5 years
Brooke: what does someone who’s in the middle of no where
Brooke: who isn’t like you
Brooke: who doesn’t have cataloguing experience
Brooke: or even more dire, is a volunteer
Brooke: but really wants to help the Library
Brooke: how do we construct a way for them to help
Brooke: AACR2 is very particular
Brooke: you start with nothing
Nicole: we develop a simple cataloging system that isn’t built on rules like AACR2 and doesn’t use MARC
Nicole: we develop the system you described in the beginning
Brooke: yes, but the kicker to that
Nicole: one where title, author, publisher, call number … are all fields
Brooke: is that the computer CAN assign it MARC fields
Nicole: why does it have to?
Nicole: why can’t you have a different cataloging system than me?
Nicole: why can’t your system just read the data the way you need it to?
Brooke: the only reason that information is constructing MARC is that we tell it to
Brooke: there’s no reason the same information can’t morph a little and be dublin core
Brooke: or nothing
Nicole: I agree
Brooke: but it has to have a box
Brooke: so that it can be a proper database and get retrieved
Nicole: so you need an OPAC that reads XML – or another format … something that reads a format that anyone can write
Nicole: this wouldn’t be hard to develop
Brooke: I don’t think so either
Nicole: and in fact it probably exists
Nicole: there has to be some small library with a homegrown system just like this out there
Nicole: but if you want to fit this data entry format into a traditional cataloging system – you can’t – there are too many variables involved
Nicole: like I said – title is not descriptive enough for those systems to put the title in the right place to display the data correctly
Brooke: I realize that
Brooke: I was simplifying things
Brooke: but I think most materials in smaller collections could be seen to with relative ease
Brooke: in fact, there’s so much copy cataloguing
Brooke: that most of the stuff I’ve seen is just barcoding
Nicole: but if you’re that small a library do you have access to tools like OCLC to copy catalog from?
Brooke: no, but you don’t need OCLC to copy catalogue
Brooke: ^^^^^ Ghetto Librarian
Brooke: I almost wonder if I’m thinking of a tutorial
Brooke: and not a module at all
Brooke: wouldn’t you improve after a few go rounds at this
Brooke: wouldn’t you realize that you had a corporate title right away
Brooke: or a translator or whatnot?
Brooke: I mean, you weren’t born knowing that the 856u was a field with a link in it
Nicole: I’m losing you
Brooke: but after seeing a few of those records and digging around a bit
Brooke: you figured out what was displaying and you learnt about that field perhaps
Brooke: I don’t know too many people that sit down and read the AACR2R cover to cover…
Nicole: I do!!!!!!!
Nicole: it’s insane
Brooke: I do too, but I read the dictionary as well
Nicole: I agree though – you can figure out MARC by poking around a bit
Nicole: it’s the rules from AACR2 that stop things up
Brooke: which are going to be changing…
Nicole: so drop the silly punctuation rules from the card catalog days and let me enter my data however I want in the right fields and then be done with it
Brooke: uh huh
Nicole: there is no reason a computer can’t change my capitalization or my punctuation after the fact
Nicole: let me do the human part and let the machine do the machine part
Nicole: so are we back to a MARC based system minus the AACR2 (or RDA) rules?
Nicole: or are we still talking about a simple system for non-catalogers?
Brooke: all of the above *duck*
Nicole: how does it work?
Nicole: you allow for 2 interfaces depending on preference?
Nicole: like me and the consultant who wanted to copy paste?
Brooke: mmm hmmm
Nicole: both our ways worked – and one was just faster for each of us?
Brooke: I can’t decide if cataloguers will string me up or embrace me if I figure out how to get what’s in my head out
Brooke: this’ll take forever
Nicole: there are those who are willing to change and those who aren’t – in all fields of life
Nicole: I’m up for anything that makes my job easier ….
Brooke: I think most folks are
Nicole: seems like a no-brainer to me
Nicole: but some people are all about tradition
Nicole: and the way it has always been done
Brooke: thank you so much for humoring me
Brooke: I don’t meet too many people that really know cataloguing
Brooke: I told my clerks it was like elementary school
Brooke: there are kids at the front of the class that everyone copies off of
Brooke: and by the time the record gets to the back row, it’s not so great anymore…
Nicole: do you mind if I share this convo on my blog – minus your name?
Nicole: I think it’s a good convo for people to read
Brooke: not at all
Brooke: someone has to externalize my thoughts
Brooke: feel free to use my name
Brooke: you can even put up my email
Brooke: I want to talk about this stuff with lots of people
Nicole: keep and eye on the comments – maybe you’ll get some good feedback
Nicole: okey dokey – I can do that
Brooke: I know you have readership