Tag Archives: cataloging

Cataloging: Then and Now

Karen Coyle and Renee Register gave a talk some time ago, Feb. 19, 2010 sponsored by the College of DuPage called, Cataloging: Where are we now? Where are we going? Presented as a windows media or quicktime streaming video, it can be accessed at this url: http://www.dupagepress.com/index.php?id=4250.

The opening question asks whether the current cataloging standards are still relevant in an era where the nature of information is changing and the volume of information is increasing. The talk goes on to figure out if these standards are still current and to talk about the role of the cataloger and the catalog.

Here are some points that I found interesting:

  • Semantic web: The influence of the semantic web on how we catalog will only continue to increase. From tagging to linked records, how we create and edit records will take into consideration this semantic web to an increasing degree.
  • Linked data: Just look at the chapters in RDA on relationships or the Library of Congress’ SKOS Authorities and Vocabularies project. The use of url’s, uri’s, or other identifiers to relate and link information and documents is already a concern of many and will gain more interest.
  • Partnerships: It is not just about partnerships between libraries and librarians but also between librarians and others who deal with information and metadata. In order to decrease the duplication of cataloging efforts, these partnerships between libraries and let’s say publishers will become more important.
  • Relevance of cataloging/metadata: Cataloging and metadata units are still relevant and needed in the library.
  • Change perceptions of data and records: Instead of thinking of records as static, we need to see them as evolving in terms of the information associated with the item that the record describes.

I found that this video is a really good entry point into the discussions taking place surrounding cataloging, metadata, and the catalog for both those in this particular area of librarianship and not. The brief bit on how cataloging and metadata is relevant useful, especially in a time when cataloging and metadata units might be shrinking. Enjoy.


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Free Cataloging Tools

There are a lot of free cataloging tools out there on the Internet. While taking a look at some posting’s, I found this short slide show of some of these great tools called “Free Cataloging Tools” by Robin Fay. One of the great aspects of this presentation is that you can see which tool might appeal to use. The url is posted somewhere on the slide so that you can simply go and investigate further. Though many of the tools are oldies but goodies, like the Cataloger’s Toolbox, there were some that I was not familiar with. Thanks Robin.

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Colin and Short: RDA and Humor

Colin and Short’s website, Resource Description and Access Happy Fun Time just keeps getting better.

Who can resist Claude François singing in the snow?

But in all seriousness, this site has been updated and has some great links to RDA and FRBR.

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Thomas Mann on LC’s Distinctive Role

Thomas Mann’s article, “What is distintive about the Library of Congress in both its collections and its means of access to them, and the reasons LC needs to maintain classified shelving of books onsite, and a way to deal effectively with the problem of “books on the floor””, has already made the rounds of many blogs and listservs; to access the PDF version, click here. As always, Thomas Mann presents a good read and persuasive arguments against transforming the Library of Congress into something it isn’t.

To back up, the mission of the Library of Congress is:

The Library’s mission is to make its resources available and useful to the Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations.

This is from their mission and strategic priorities 1997-2004. The document goes on to list four priorities that touch primarily on how LC is to acquire, organize, preserve, maintain, secure, sustain, make available to Congress and the American people for present and future use the collection of human knowledge and creativity.

It is unprecedented in human history — and a uniquely American offer — to open public access to an institution that is in many respects the working library of a government and a de facto national library.


What does Thomas Mann suggest the Library of Congress is turning into? In short, he is criticising a report by Deanna Marcum called “The Meeting on Digital Strategy”. His argues that Deanna compares LC to Google, newspapers and their for-profit business model, and Amazon and their business model of making a profit rather than promoting scholarship. In this sense, Thomas Mann suggeststhat Deanna Marcum is one of many who want to turn the Library of Congress into a for-profit business that purports to provide “easy” digital access to current and quick information. It is a striking commentary. However, Thomas Mann provides some persuasive arguments about why LC cannot do this.

  • Preservation
    • From reading LC’s mission statement as well as Thomas’ summary of it, it is clear that LC strives to preserve past and current knowledge and human creativity. It receives as part of this goal millions of free books thanks to the mandate that all copyright books in the US be deposited in LC. In terms of providing access to these resources, LC is unique in that it provides sometimes the only copy of that item. Because not everything has been digitized and items still in copyright are not digitized, this means that LC is the only place to consult these materials. If this stopped, then access to these resources would no longer be available. As Thomas Mann points out, this would be a serious blow to scholarship.
  • Scholarship
    • LC has in its mandate to provide resources for scholars as well as Congress and US citizens. In this sense, it is not just a question of finding quick and easy information that may or may not be relevent. The one stop search box and search results based on keywords is not practical. Thomas Mann gives a good example. What is a person is looking for a document about square footage and population statistics. But the document does not have such keywords as square footage, sq. ft., population, statistics, stats, or some variation of those words. Then any search with these keywords will not yield the wanted document. However, with the amount of results that such a search on Google would turn up, the person probably wouldn’t know the existence of such a document. The key to LC’s way of organizing information is that it does not rely on keywords but a classification based on a hierarchy of subjects as well as a classification alpha-numeric string denoting the primary subject. So if the document does not have any keywords of population or statistics, this would be reflected in the subject headings. Thomas Mann argues that this type of information allows scholars to find relevent information.
  • Access to scholarship and quality of cataloging
    • Given the last example, Thomas Mann points out that easy access to information depends on the quality of cataloging. He was able to find the resource needed because the catalogers at LC put in subject headings and a call number. Unlike Google or Amazon, LC describes each resource and provides several ways of accessing that resource (author, subjects, title, …).
  • Non commercial
    • Another aspect that Thomas Mann sees as separating LC from other libraries is that it is non commercial. Given its mandate to preserve and provide access to human creativity and knowledge, LC is going to collect and make available resources that simply are not current, do  not fit into any business model, and will not make a profit for LC. In fact, Thomas Mann says that without the help of taxpayers money, LC would have folded years ago because it is not in the money making business.

Thomas Mann asks us to question the drive to digitize collections in terms of what is being digitized and the type of access provided with online resources. He also asks us to look at what libraries are and what the Library of Congress means to the United States. If it is a de facto national library, should this be clearly stated in its mission? This is an interesting article and well worth reading whether or not you agree with Mann.

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RDA Textbook set to publish in April 2010

Facet Publishing is set to publish a new textbook on RDA in April 2010. The textbook by Shawne D Miksa will:

introduce descriptive and subject cataloguing and classification as it is currently practised, and in particular introduces Resource Description and Access (RDA), the new set of cataloguing rules that replace the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR). The new rules represent the response of the international cataloguing community to the current global information environment. Their principal goal is to facilitate resource discovery with library catalogues in a more consistent and powerful way than was possible with AACR, and this book is a guide to how to use them to achieve bibliographic control. The key areas covered are:

  • library cataloguing in the digital era
  • descriptive cataloguing
  • subject cataloguing
  • encoding catalogue records
  • sustaining and supporting the catalogue procedures.

Hopefully, the actual document will be released on schedule.


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RDA Presentation by B. Tillett

The Atlantic Provinces Library Association recently held their annual meeting from June 10-13, 2009.

Barbara Tillett gave a presentation on RDA entitled: Sharing Standards for Bibliographic Data Worldwide: an Overview of Changes in Cataloging Practices.

The description reads:

Built on foundations established by the Anglo-American CataloguingRules (AACR), RDA (Resouce Description and Access) will provide a comprehensive set of guidelines and instructions on resource description and access covering all types of content and media. The new standard is being developed for use primarily in libraries, but consultations are being undertaken with othercommunities (archives, museums, publishers, etc.) in an effort to attain an effective level of alignment between RDA and the metadata standards used in those communities, increasing the ability to share metadata among diverse communities. Cataloguers aren’t the only professionals who will be affected by these new rules. Increasing the ability to share metadata outside of our own organizations and changing description and access rules will impact the entire information profession. Along with providing an overview of RDA and it’s underlying conceptual model (FRBR- Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records), examples of how FRBR can benefit circulation, reference and serials will be explored.Convenor : Laurel Tarulli, Collections Access Librarian, Halifax Public Libraries.

There are 3 supporting materials: 2 word documents and a PowerPoint presentation.

Unlike many of the resources I’ve seen thus far on RDA, Barbara has included screen shots of the draft online RDA product as well as examples of cataloging in both AACR2 and RDA. I found Barbara’s supporting materials excellent and well worth re-reading – even though some screen shots seemed hyped marketing wise to illustration something  along the lines of  “look how great RDA online is”. Despite that, it was particularly interesting to see how the cataloging differed between RDA and AACR2 and is a good resource.

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