Thursday, June 24, 2010

WorldCat and Twitter

Twitter logo initialImage via Wikipedia
Query WorldCat from Twitter.
#Ask4Stuff is a new, Twitter-based service that returns a WorldCat search when you send a tweet with the tag #Ask4Stuff. So if you send the following tweet:

#Ask4Stuff lake erie shipwreck

You'll get a tweet back that says something like:

@YOURNAME A few things about lake erie shipwreck in #Ask4Stuff, check out

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Procedural Guidelines for Proposed New or Revised Romanization Tables

The Library of Congress, Policy and Standards Division has developed Procedural Guidelines for Proposed New or Revised Romanization Tables. They are looking for comments.
These guidelines apply to the creation of new tables and the revision of existing tables.

  • The ALA/LC Romanization Tables should be transliteration schemes rather than replicating pronunciation. Pronunciation is variable around the world. Another goal of this principle is to enable machine-transliteration whenever possible and preferably reversible transliteration.
  • The ALA/LC Romanization Tables should be in line with internationally accepted standards and/or standards officially sanctioned by the home country when possible.
  1. Examine any existing national and international standards before beginning the process of creating a new or revising an existing romanization table.
  2. Mapping characters to the Latin script
    1. Take the equivalent characters used from the MARC Basic Latin script repertoire as much as possible.
    2. Choose a Latin script equivalent for a non-Latin letter, not necessarily based on pronunciation of the letter, but so as to maximize clarity and minimize confusion with the transliteration of other letters. The resulting Latin script equivalents should allow for the reversal of romanization as systematically as possible, without the application of special algorithms or contextual tests.
    3. Avoid special Latin script alphabetic characters as they are not always widely supported in display and printing.
  3. Modifiers
    1. Use modifier characters (diacritical marks) in conjunction with the basic Latin script characters, but take care to avoid modifier characters that are not widely supported (e.g., ligature marks), or whose positioning over or under a Latin script base letter may interfere with the printing and/or display of that letter.
    2. Above. It is recommended that the acute (´), grave (`) and dieresis (¨) be preferred to other modifying characters over base letters. Use the tilde (?), macron (¯), circumflex (?), and dot above (˙) characters if needed.
    3. Below. Avoid modifiers below characters, since they often interfere with portions of Latin letters that descend and when underlining is present. If a modifier below is desired, prefer the dot below (.) or the cedilla (¸).
  1. Marks used as guides to pronunciation should not be rendered as Latin alphabet characters, but rather as diacritics or punctuation marks to facilitate reversibility.
  2. Non-alphabetic languages
    1. In dealing with non-alphabetic scripts, e.g., syllabic scripts, the above guidelines should be applied to the extent that they can.
    2. Any provisions for aggregation should be based on such factors as international agreement, convenience of use, promotion of consistent application, and ease of computer access.
  1. Other factors. The impact of file maintenance on legacy records should be considered in revising tables in relation to the ease or difficulty of accomplishing it, the benefits provided by the revisions, and the obligations of and impact on various organizations and institutions.
  1. Forwarding proposed new or revised Romanization tables. Submit all draft tables (new and revised) to the Policy and Standards Division, Library of Congress, preferably as an attachment to an electronic mail message sent to Submit all draft proposals as complete tables in an electronic format, e.g., Microsoft Word, so that the resultant file may be updated during the review process. Submit revisions to existing tables as part of a complete table for the language. If only a part is being revised, clearly note the proposed revisions either 1) within the table itself or 2) as a separate document indicating what the proposed revisions are and the justification for them. Provide pertinent justification, e.g., experts consulted, sources consulted, for any proposed new or revised table.
  2. Library of Congress review. The Policy and Standards Division and other Library staff with knowledge of the language or script will review draft tables (both new and revised).
  3. Other review. After reaching consensus within the Library of Congress, the Library will seek comments from the community at large, including the appropriate committee within the American Library Association. This is done in several ways:
    • the draft will be posted on the Cataloging and Acquisitions Web site ( with a request for comments usually within 90 days of the posting;
    • the draft table will be published in Cataloging Service Bulletin with a request for comments within 90 days;
    • the draft will be sent to identified stakeholders with the same 90 days request for comments; and
    • the availability of the draft will be noted in a posting to various electronic lists according to the language. See list below.
  4. Receipt of comments. The requests for comments specify that such comments are to be sent to by a specified date. The Policy and Standards Division and other Library of Congress staff will evaluate the comments as they are received. Once the Library reaches consensus, the division will revise the draft table as appropriate. The Policy and Standards Division will acknowledge the receipt of comments.
  5. Approval process. The Library of Congress will forward draft tables that have been completed to the chair of the appropriate committee within the American Library Association. Draft tables for languages of Africa and Asia go to the chair of the Committee on Cataloging: African and Asian Materials (CC:AAM). Drafts for languages in other parts of the world go to the chair of the Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access (CC:DA). If the appropriate ALA committee has disagreements with the submitted draft table, it may be necessary to return to one of the steps above.
  6. The Library of Congress will issue status reports to the stakeholders and electronic lists noted above.
  7. Approved tables. Once the appropriate committee has approved the draft table, the Policy and Standards Division will make any changes to the table as the result of this process, post the approved table to the Cataloging and Acquisitions/ALA-LC Romanization Tables Web page (, and publish the approved table in Cataloging Service Bulletin.

Data Portability Policy Statements

Image representing DataPortability as depicted...Image via CrunchBase
The DataPortability Project has announced a data portability policy statement and released a tool to create a statement for your organization.
The heart of the Portability Policy is a set of plain language questions that we hope will become a common vocabulary between software users and providers. Through these questions, a provider can disclose what they do or do not, to enable data portability. Eventually, we intend to release machine-readable version of these policies.

Data portability applies to a much broader set of software products than just social networks. The promise of data portability is that everyone benefits when work can be repurposed – by yourself with other tools or by other people. Any tool that lets people enter or organize their digital “stuff” should control how that stuff can be reused. Text documents, music play lists, pictures, and research data are just as valuable to share as “friend lists” and address books.

We do not promote any particular technology or approach; there are no right or wrong answers. While a social network might want to illustrate the myriad ways that they connect people and allow for data portability, a service focused on deeply personal medical or financial issues might want to highlight the fact that they allow no portability at all. Our intent is simply to increase communication and ensure that both parties — visitors and the service itself — each know what they should expect from the other.
If your site provides APIs or not this is a nice easy way to let people know.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Subject Headings for Cooking and Cookbooks

The Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library o...Image via Wikipedia
This statement was issued by LC concerning the change from cookery to cooking. For some libraries this is going to be a major change.
The Library of Congress issued the list of the new and revised subject headings for materials on cooking and cookbooks on June 22, 2010 ( These new and revised headings will be distributed beginning with the CDS distribution file vol. 25, issue 24 dated June 14 and will continue until completed. The revision of Subject Headings Manual (SHM) H 1475, "Cooking and Cookbooks," is forthcoming and will be posted as a PDF file on the public Cataloging and Acquisitions Web site ( It will also be included in SHM Update Number 2 of 2010, which will be distributed in the fall.

The word "cookery" has been changed to "cooking" in approximately 800 subject headings (e.g., Cooking, Cooking (Butter), Cooking for the sick, Aztec cooking, Cooking, American--Southwestern style).

A topical subject heading for Cookbooks and a genre/form heading for Cookbooks have also been approved, and are available for use.

Most of the Children's Subject Headings in the form Cookery--[Ingredient] have been cancelled in favor of the adult heading Cooking ([Ingredient]). However, three of those headings have been retained and revised: Cooking (Buffets), Cooking (Garnishes), and Cooking (Natural foods).

In cases where reference structure for a heading has been changed but the heading itself has not, the heading was omitted from the list. For example, the headings Brunches, Comfort food, and Tortillas had the broader term Cookery, which has been changed to Cooking. None of these three headings appear on the Weekly List. The references on approximately 500 headings have been changed.

Every effort will be taken to expeditiously change the old form of subject headings in bibliographic records to the new form during the next few months.

Genre/Form Headings for Moving Images

The OLAC LC Genre/Form Headings for Moving Images Best Practices Task Force has released a draft of the guidelines that it has been developing for public comment.
The guidelines are intended to supplement and be compliant with existing practices as well as provide examples of usage. In a few cases, notably the "nationality/language" genre section, we offer alternative (with appropriate local coding) options for access that we believe some libraries might find helpful. We also acknowledge that the LC Moving Image Genre/Form Heading world has been shifting under our feet as we have worked on these guidelines, and that a number of other groups are working on similar guidelines in other areas. Thus, these guidelines must be regarded as somewhat in flux. Most notably has LCs recent decision to separate out (and re-code in MARC) the genre/form terms from LCSH. Our examples as they currently stand do NOT reflect the new MARC coding of 655 7 $2. They will be edited to do so during the draft revision baring any reversals from LC. We are opening the draft for comments till July 23rd.

Standards Poster

What's the term for a lot of standards? A mess? Gaggle? Flock? Whatever it is Seeing Standards: A Visualization of the Metadata Universe is a poster of standards in the memory community.
The sheer number of metadata standards in the cultural heritage sector is overwhelming, and their inter-relationships further complicate the situation. This visual map of the metadata landscape is intended to assist planners with the selection and implementation of metadata standards.

Each of the 105 standards listed here is evaluated on its strength of application to defined categories in each of four axes: community, domain, function, and purpose. The strength of a standard in a given category is determined by a mixture of its adoption in that category, its design intent, and its overall appropriateness for use in that category.

The standards represented here are among those most heavily used or publicized in the cultural heritage community, though certainly not all standards that might be relevant are included. A small set of the metadata standards plotted on the main visualization also appear as highlights above the graphic. These represent the most commonly known or discussed standards for cultural heritage metadata.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Problems With Names

Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names shows the computer folks are finding names a problem. We could have told them that a long time ago.
So, as a public service, I’m going to list assumptions your systems probably make about names. All of these assumptions are wrong. Try to make less of them next time you write a system which touches names.
  1. People have exactly one canonical full name.
  2. People have exactly one full name which they go by.
  3. People have, at this point in time, exactly one canonical full name.
  4. People have, at this point in time, one full name which they go by.
  5. People have exactly N names, for any value of N.
  6. People’s names fit within a certain defined amount of space.
  7. People’s names do not change.
  8. People’s names change, but only at a certain enumerated set of events.
  9. People’s names are written in ASCII.
  10. People’s names are written in any single character set.
There are a total of forty assumptions listed and some of the commentators have added more.