Survey of Dublin Core Use and MARC

Resoum Kidane of Bibliographic Services at King's College London is conducting a survey on DC use.

I am currently conducting a survey concerning the use of Dublin Core (DC) and MARC amongst cataloguers and other information professionals. The main aim of this research is to obtain a perception from cataloguers and other information professionals, concerning the future trends of cataloguing. As the future of MARC becomes the subject of debate amongst information professionals, there is a possibility that DC will replace MARC for cataloguing both digital and print documents.

Via Catalogablog.

RDA not the answer – what is?


  1. I’m a new cataloger
  2. I haven’t kept up with RDA

Now to the meat.

Karen Schneider has an interesting post at the Techsource blog. Karen says:

…the next time you complain about the limitations of library data"”the gazillions of records we have created about the physical items in our libraries"”and wonder why none of the cool new applications leverage the millions of library records shared worldwide, or why your expensive catalog can’t integrate with a nifty new social software tool, or you wonder why there’s no Google mashup to connect readers and books, consider this: to a large extent, it’s because our data suck.

I don’t agree. At least, my data doesn’t suck. I am constantly trying to add value to my data – and I think I’m doing a pretty darn good job. In fact, after reading through through the rest of the post – I don’t think Karen agrees either. The problem that is stated over and over is with the format of our data – not the data itself. This is why people complain about their expensive catalogs. MARC has been the standard for how long? And they still haven’t been able to come up with ways for us to improve the way our valuable data is displayed and manipulated??

That said – I agree! We need to make improvements in the way we catalog data. I need to go and read RDA before I can talk educatedly about what exactly works and doesn’t – but the one question I always ask (as a new cataloger) is – how will we ever get away from MARC & AACR2?? It is completely ingrained in all of our zillions of records. We’d have to build an amazing tool to reformat everything (which we’ll never be able to do because as Karen says there are too many inconsistencies). Or we’d have to re enter all of that data – do you want to do that??

I ask these questions out of curiousity – I’ve had this very discussion with other catalogers and I’m just curious what you all think. Feel free to chime in. How can we ever move away from MARC & AACR2 (and ISBD for that matter) when it’s central to nearly ever record out there?

WorldCat Lists

Awesome! Alice posts about WorldCat Lists.

Lists are a way for you to group library-owned items you have found while using WorldCat. Lists let you keep track of items of interest and refer back to them whenever you want to. You can share your lists with friends and colleagues, too.

Here are some existing lists
. I see one name I know on the list of existing lists: Stuart Weibel has added his own favorite books list. What list will you add?

RDA Print Survey

Chris points us to a survey to help decide if there will be a print version of RDA.

I find that while I have access to Cataloger’s Desktop, I still rely heavily on the print versions of my cataloging guides. It’s just easier to flip through the pages than it is to find what I’m looking for online. I also prefer to read print over the screen (I read plenty online – why add one more thing?). I do like that the online versions can link to other resources – like how the online AACR2 links to Library of Congress Rule Interpretations, but that doesn’t stop be from starting in the book.

If you have an opinion in the matter, take the survey, it’s pretty short.

Should catalogers learn to be programmers?

There is an interesting discussion going on at Cataloging Futures. The question is how do we upgrade our Cataloger’s skill sets? How do we prepare them for cataloging of digital collections?

Most catalogers have the important skill set already: experience with structured data and standards, good analytical skills, the ever necessary discipline of being attentive to details, etc. But these skills have to be upgraded. We definitely can’t rest on our laurels.

The discussion in the comments has turned to teaching catalogers some programming – what do you think? Weigh in at Cataloging Futures.

Everything is Misc Video

David Weinberger did a talk at Google about Everything is Miscellaneous. It borrowed a bit from the keynote I heard last year at KMWorld – and is just as exciting. I highly recommend that you watch it if you have some time to devote.

David is a great speaker and just draws you into his world and gets you all excited – or at least that’s what he does for me. I listen to him talking about these things that obviously excite him and I want to learn more and share the excitement.

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The Virtues and Limits of Cataloging

Christine points me to a post a by Eli Jacobowitz on The Virtues and Limits of Cataloging. From the post:

First of all, current implementations of tagging are "flat" – there is no meta-meta-data about what type of label a tag represents. Is "Mona Lisa" the title, author, location, genre, art movement?

I agree!

Second, and fairly obviously, tags are susceptible to spelling errors and multiple listings for the same category ("Italian", "italian", "italy", "Italians""¦ what do I search for?).

I agree!

Third, even if you know what attribute you're supposed to label, and have a controlled list of values to pick from, ambiguity may persist in how to summarize multiple or conflicting facts about the object.

I agree!

The bottom line is, you need a degree in Library Science to do this right.

I disagree!

What you need is training by an experienced cataloging librarian! I’m in a cataloging class right now and I’m enjoying it – but in the end I’ll never remember everything I’ve learned or learn everything I need to learn – only a veteran cataloger can teach me how to do it right and how to do it efficiently. It all comes back to what I’ve always said – you need hands on work experience to learn how to do a lot of the things librarians do – and most librarians I’ve spoken with agree.

That said (sorry for the rant). It’s a great article and I think an alternative that Eli overlooked is to have librarians work in conjunction with average internet users. This can be done many different ways.

One option is to have librarians create the controlled vocabulary that is used on a particular site.

Another option is to have librarian editors go through and clean up tags (yikes!).

Lastly, you could just have librarians and users cataloging and tagging items in tandem. Then you have the authority control and you have all those other words that non-librarians think of. This comes back to a bit of what Tim Spalding showed us in one of his presentations at CIL. The LCSH does not have a heading for CyberPunk – so how do you find a book like Neuromancer by William Gibson if you’re searching by subject? You look for:

Computer hackers–Fiction.
Business intelligence–Fiction.
Information superhighway–Fiction.
Nervous system–Wounds and injuries–Fiction.

Need I say anymore??

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