Friday, November 21, 2003

MARC Code List for Languages

This is a recent notice from LC:
The following codes have been approved for use in the international language code standard, ISO 639-2 (Codes for the Representation of Names of Languages--Part 2: alpha-3 code) and are likewise being added to the MARC Code List for Languages. They will be included in the next edition of the MARC Code List for Languages (date to be announced).
  • New code Language name Previously coded
  • byn Bilin cus (Cushitic (Other))
  • dsb Lower Sorbian wen (Sorbian languages)
  • hsb Upper Sorbian wen (Sorbian languages)
  • jbo Lojban (Artificial language) n/a
LC Implementation Plans
Subscribers can anticipate receiving MARC records reflecting these changes in all distribution services not earlier than January 21, 2004.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Subject Access

"Why LC Subject Headings Are More Important Than Ever" by Thomas Mann, American Libraries, Oct. 2003, v. 34, no. 9 discusses not the importance of LC subject headings, the title is a bit misleading, but the importance of the ability of users to browse the full precoordinated heading.
We need to get over the uncritical habit of regarding subject-heading strings--and the online public access catalog (OPAC) displays that bring them to our attention--as mere carryovers from the age of manual card catalogs. Instead, we need to consider them afresh in the light of their new and greatly increased power to aid researchers in the online age. By "strings" I am referring to the distinction between precoordinated, ordered phrases in Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) versus postcoordinated Boolean combinations of individual terms, elements, or facets.
Well written by a reference librarian and worth reading.

I often miss articles in American Libraries, I'm a member of SLA. This was brought to my attention by Walt Crawford in his latest Cites and Insights.

BF Top Site Award

Catalogablog has won the Bloggerforum Top Site Award twice. I think the Handheld Librarian has done the same. This shows librarians know how to present information in an accessible manner. We have beat sites like Wesley Clark, Howard Dean and Dave Barry, maybe they should include a librarian on their Web site development team.

To be fair, the search is pretty limited. It only includes sites using the Blogger software and hosted on Blog*Spot, as I understand their search. So the Shifted Librarian and Library Stuff are excluded. Still the sites we manage to top says something about the value of library science training.


The other night I went and bought the latest Beatle's CD. I started to wonder just how much longer a trip to the store to purchase a physical item containing recorded music will be something we do. I download individual songs now. It is only when I'm interested in the entire CD and the price is right (Let It Be.... Naked was 11.98) that I still purchase a CD. If the physical carrier goes away what are we left to catalog and how will we provide access?

I'm not a music cataloger, but I'd treat the CD as a work and include a 505 for each song. In the virtual world songs would become divorced from the work, they would become the work. Would musicians even release a group of songs or just release them as they finish each? There would be no need for them to group songs and they would have no control as to the order of presentation. An album like Pet Sounds or Dark Side of the Moon would not be possible. Cataloging these individual pieces would be about 12 time the amount of work. Will we even do it, or just pass off the access issues to iTunes and the like? I'll miss the liner notes and cover art, but those would be unnecessary in the world of on-line music.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Search/Retrieve Web Service

Ralph LeVan's SRW/SRU Open Source database interface is now available. It includes support for DSpace's Lucene implementation and OCLC's Pears and Newton databases. An open source product, it is released for download.

LC describes SRW/U as:

SRW is the "Search/Retrieve Web Service" protocol, which aims to integrate access to various networked resources, and to promote interoperability between distributed databases, by providing a common utilization framework. SRW is a web-service-based protocol whose underpinnings are formed by bringing together more than 20 years experience from the collective implementers of the Z39.50 Information Retrieval protocol with recent developments in the web technologies arena.
Looks like this is related to ZING, Z39.50 International, Next Generation.


The University of Minnesota Libraries has released, under the GPL, LibData.
LibData is a library oriented web based application which provides authoring environments for subject pathfinders (Research QuickStart), course related pages (CourseLib) and general purpose web pages (PageScribe). LibData encompasses all of these applications, but a typical installation need only take advantage of one or two of them -- great local variation and emphasis is possible.
Seen on oss4lib.


A new version of USRMARCON Plus is now available.
The software has now been further developed and adapted by ATP Library Systems Ltd, Finland to an API format. Following testing at Helsinki University and the British Library (v1.3), this latest version of USEMARCON (Version 1.4) makes USEMARCON more suitable for integration in other software, mainly fast on-the-fly conversions in Z39.50 clients and multi-threaded Z39.50 servers. The British Library and ATP Library Systems Ltd is making the new v1.4 software and related documentation available free of charge to users and application developers in order to promote usage of USEMARCON. Potential users are, however, asked to complete a freeware licence to cover the use of the software.


OASIS has released a position paper and is seeking comments. Search Service Interoperability edited by Eliot Christian.
Governments are recommended to enhance interoperability among their networked systems by adopting a common search service. The search service should be based on the ISO 23950 international standard that features a high degree of interoperability across many communities of practice and types of data and information holdings. Governments should implement the search service as a supplement to other search mechanisms, as these may be required for reasons other than broad scale interoperability.
Z39.50 is a fine standard, however, I think OAI-PMH should also be considered. It does get a mention on page 5.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Authority Information

The latest issue of D-Lib Magazine (Nov. 2003) v. 9, no. 11 has the article New Ways of Sharing and Using Authority Information The LEAF Project by Max Kaiser, Hans-Jorg Lieder, Kurt Majcen and Heribert Vallant.
This article presents an overview of the LEAF project (Linking and Exploring Authority Files)1, which has set out to provide a framework for international, collaborative work in the sector of authority data with respect to authority control.
Other articles include:
  • "Using MPEG-21 DIDL to Represent Complex Digital Objects in the Los Alamos National Laboratory Digital Library" by Jeroen Bekaert, Patrick Hochstenbach and Herbert Van de Sompel
  • "Public Opinion Polls and Digital Preservation: An Application of the Fedora Digital Object Repository System" by Ronald Jantz
  • "The DiVA Project - Development of an Electronic Publishing System" by Eva Muller, Uwe Klosa, Stefan Andersson, and Peter Hansson

XML Catalog

I've posted in the past about the XML catalog at the University of Buffalo. There is a posting at usr/lib/info about the catalog. Very interesting work, addressing some fundamental questions about the catalog on the Web.


The government of Canada is using RSS to deliver information. The have an intro page, links to readers and more info and provide links to government feeds.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Scout Portal Toolkit

The Scout Portal Toolkit version 1.2.0 is now available for download.

This release incorporates functionality from the Content Workflow Integration System (CWIS) software the Internet Scout Project is currently developing for the NSF's National Science Digital Library.

Some of the more significant changes and improvements in this release include:

  • Improved user account management
  • Documentation and script to assist in customizing or creating a new user interface
  • Ability to list, search through, and delete users
  • New permissions to control posting comments and posting to forums
  • Expanded OAI configuration interface
  • Support for specifying display and editing order of metadata fields
  • Revised and expanded help
  • Support for metadata qualifiers
  • RSS and OAI test links
  • Software registration option
  • Various minor bugs fixes


A working group of the IFLA Cataloguing Section has produced a draft report Guidance on the structure, Content, and Application of Metadata Records for Digital Resources and Collections. The report contains a suggested "core" set of the ten elements most commonly occurring in a range of metadata schemas that could be used by authors or publishers to enhance resource discovery.

IFLA has now put out an official call for a World-Wide Review of this report.

MARC Code Lists

Additions to the MARC Code Lists for Relators, Sources, Description Conventions have been announced. The Web page is missing the New tag, it is easy to overlook.

Information Seeking Behavior

Rory Litwin has an interesting article in the current Library Juice about what the "Amusing Search Questions" that led folks to his newsletter reveal. Well worth a read. Might make for a good discussion in LIS programs.
Each month in Library Juice I publish a list of a dozen or two searches that led to pages on in the previous month - amusing, or at least head-scratching, stuff. (They are compiled on the Library Juice website.) It has occurred to me that many of these searches are trying to tell us something about information seeking behavior, and that we can actually learn from them when we are done giggling. I've made a stab at a typology of the "amusing search," with lessons and questions arising from each.

XML Citation Data

Some folks are trying to improve the citation data in authoring programs. Anything that makes it easier for libraries gets my support. DocBook is the first program targeted. Read, make suggestions and comment.

Multi-ISBN LibraryLookup

Hickey and his associate Jeff Young put up a page to explore ways of using this one-to-many mapping in a LibraryLookup-like bookmarklet. It produces a bookmarklet that issues a query URL with multiple ISBNs.

Since my library's OPAC doesn't respond to multi-ISBN queries, though, I tried another approach: multiple individual queries. One way to handle these would be to have a server-based application parse the results and look for indications of success or failure. (Since the results are only Web pages, not well-formed XML responses, that would entail some crufty pattern recognition.) Another way, which I've implemented, is to open up a new window for each query. As an experiment, here's a version of the Build-Your-Own-Bookmarklet page that creates bookmarklets that use that method:

experimental LibraryBookmarklet builder for multi-ISBN lookup


Terry Reese has announced:
Well, its finished. After a year and half of work, I've completed probably my most ambitious upgrade since the program was first created. In general, there were three major development areas:
  1. Native Z39.50 client
  2. Creation of an XML API
  3. Unicode support within the MarcEditor and MarcEditor editing functions
I'm proud to say that I've been able to accomplish each of these goals, in addition to adding a handful of new functionality. For a more complete list of what's new, please see: What's New.
You will have to download the new version for his site, the update feature does not work for this major version change. Thank you Terry.