Posted tagged ‘FRBR’

Target Audiences

January 28, 2009

Yesterday I posted about the lack of interest in my unfortunately scheduled gaming and libraries presentation.  Although that is being reformated for a friends program, that may simply become an adult video game night (which is something I’ve been wanting to do ever since we got our hands on a Wii).

Anyway, today I’m going to be giving a short workshop on my job essentially.  The idea being that we’ve held two workshops on how our catalog works, so now I’m going to follow up and show why it works.  I actually do have people signed up this time (if they brave the snow), but half the audience are staff members.

I actually really like that staff wanted to come, but now I’m a bit confused about how to present the material. What’s the happy medium between tech services for beginers and a staff training on MaRC records and FRBR?  Clearly the patron side of this should come first, but I would like to sneak in some hints of the more advanced material.  Whether or not I can actually achieve the right balance of course remains to be seen.

Reaching our Limits

October 4, 2008

There are some days when I truly despair for how far behind library catalogs are from the rest of the world.  At work yesterday one of my colleagues was attempting to compile a list of our new DVDs for our patrons and was unable to pull out a single piece of useful from the system besides the titles.  She wanted to list the directors of each film, which couldn’t be done.  She also wanted the year each film was released in cases where there were multiple adaptations, couldn’t be done.

The sad thing is that some of that information was indeed in the records, just not in a useful way.  Anyone who has any role in the production of a film can be listed in a record if the cataloger felt so inclined at the time, but their roles are never assigned and it’s not considered essential information so it only appears sporadically.  

Which officially makes our catalogs less powerful than the IMDB, Google, and the spreadsheet I cobbled together in excel for my own collection.  And don’t think that dvd’s are a unique example, this is par for the course.  Using a catalog try to find comics written but not drawn by Frank Miller, novels written by the actual V.C. Andrews, or a collection containing the Raven by Edgar Allen Poe.

These are all useful, fairly everyday searches that are impossible to conduct using the catalog alone.  And we these are pieces of software we’re paying small ransoms for, which are all the while becoming more and more obsolete.  And to make maters worse, we can accept a large amount of the blame for this ourselves.  While we’re debating the practicalities of FRBR and RDA and generally aren’t getting anywhere with a great deal of speed LibraryThing is merrily marching on with less than a dozen people on staff and have been implementing exactly these sorts of things monthly.

Why can’t we do the same with the resources that come from the rest of the profession?

The Nail In the Coffin

October 2, 2008

I just had to share this one.  Heidi Hoerman has put together a brilliant slide show (sadly her talk that went with it is not available) in which she makes the case that RDA is destined “to die a quiet death”.  Her arguments are pretty sound and I can’t help but agree.

The RDA Saga Continues

August 26, 2008

Ann Chapman has put her RDA support piece, RDA: a Cataloging Code for the 21st Century, online.  It’s a great piece of propaganda, that makes RDA sound great without addressing any of the criticisms heaped upon the proposed standard.

The Wall of Shame

July 25, 2008

This was a good day for my library attrocities collection.  You see I’ve been holding onto the truly awful items that make their way past my desk.  On my wall is a completely unspooled cassette tape in a plastic baggie that was returned hoping we could fix it.  Next to that is my personal favorite, a misprinted receipt that somehow brought into existence the unknown classic, Rogers and Hamerstein’s International Law and the United Nation.

Now today a colleague discovered that I had been working on this collection and she passed a few my way.  First up was the magic ISBN  (155902983) from Aerie books that is apparently used on every item they have ever published.  Type it into ALibris and you’ll max out the search.  It’s great in our catalog where we have Librarything for libraries, which of course pulls in information via ISBN.  According to our system the Secret Garden, Treasure Island, and and Little Prince are all different editions of the same book.

The second item was an oclc record (that has since been justifiably deleted from the system)  for an audiobook with 12 or 14 or 16 tapes that is apparently read by 1 of 3 possible readers.  The note that accompanied this refered to the record as being overFRBRed.

All in all a bad day for cataloging but a fun day for me.


June 3, 2008

I spent today at a roundtable for technical services librarians, and as usual I got an awful lot out of the experience.  What always fascinates me at these events (we try to hold three a year) is how grounded the discussions tend to be, and how far that seems to be from the sort of discourse that comes out of the scholarly publications and the conferences.

Both have their place surely, but I’ve found it to be very striking how out of touch the professional outlets seem to be with the average public librarian.  Having just attended MLA, the overall impression was that libraries are these technological marvels full of staff members that are completely knowledgeable of the latest trends in the profession, and of course when it comes to public libraries at least that’s just not the case.  The story is always one of having to do more with less, and when that means less staff members and fewer hours on top of fewer resources there’s not much that can be done.

The bulk of today’s conversation focused on such ordinary subjects as mending tips and re balancing the acquisitions work flow in the wake of the aforesaid cuts.  A brief discussion of FRBR and RDA was on the agenda, but was removed due to a lack of time, but not before it was learned that half the room had never heard of either one.   I wasn’t exactly surprised to learn this; between their resource deficiencies and the general lack of awareness that the larger library organizations seem to have of small to medium-sized libraries.  This is especially problematic here in Massachusetts because of its tendency to exclude half of itself in all things (effectively the Pioneer Valley is part of Connecticut and the Berkshires are part of New York).

I find it very sad that the sorts of libraries who were represented at today’s meeting, really the backbone of the profession, are being cast aside from the profession.  I think we’re in huge trouble if something like FRBR, which is going to affect every library out there, comes to pass without half these libraries being aware of it, and I can see that happening.  Now I know I tend to be one for plowing ahead heedlessly with innovations, but we do need to take some time out and make sure that we haven’t lost anyone in the wake.

The Great Debate

May 10, 2008

The main subject from the last few conferences I have attended (at least in regards to the tech services tracks) is the future of cataloging.  We are now only a year away from the release of RDA (despite the LC’s Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control’s recommendation that work on it be suspended).  At MLA this last week I got to hear from Both Janet Swan Hill (who sat on the working group) and from Diane Hillman (an RDA supporter from Cornell).

This provided a unique opportunity to way both the pros and cons of the proposal.  RDA is supposed to replace the AACR2, which roughly speaking provides the grammar for cataloging.  The big changes in it are designed to make it play nicely with the FRBR standard, and to make updating records easier by replacing the our current text strings with URI linkages.  Both of which are admirable goals.

But then came the final report of the working group (skip to page 31 for the RDA bit).  Personally I would love to see all these changes come about, we’ve waited too long for them already.  However, I want to make clear that I’m not dismissing the work of anyone involved in these projects, I take issue with how long it took to begin the work on the new standards, not on the progress made since then.

But I am concerned with the practicality of the innovations the cataloging profession is awaiting.  Making the new standards is one thing, convincing the ILS vendors, publishers and OCLC to play along is another, and I’m not sure I see that happening yet.  Right now everyone is awaiting the RDA release next year, while in the meantime I’m still waiting for the implementation of last year’s supposed upgrade to my ILS.  So I’m just dreading the prospect of being able to see the “future of cataloging” but not being able to participate in it.