Thursday, September 23, 2010

Multilingual Dictionary of Cataloguing Terms and Concepts

News from IFLA. The first version of the Multilingual Dictionary of Cataloguing Terms and Concepts (MulDiCat) has been released. It is planned to make a later version available as SKOS. "The Multilingual dictionary of cataloguing terms and concepts contains definitions for many terms and concepts used by the library cataloguing community. Terms and definitions are available in English and a variety of other languages."

Hackfest Seeks Suggestions

Hackfest, a prelude to Access 2010, is looking for suggestions for projects. Have a tech need, maybe here is the place to get something done.
On October 13th, a very special event is happening: the Access Hackfest. A tradition since Access 2002, the Hackfest brings together library practitioners of all kinds to tackle challenges and problems from the mundane to the sublime to the ridiculous. If you can imagine a spectrum with three axes (Axes Hackfest? forget I mentioned that), you might be just the person to pose those challenges to the Hackfest participants!

What we're saying here, folks, is that we need suggestions for Hackfest projects. There are no limitations to these challenges: oh sure, you're bringing together complete strangers and asking them to accomplish in eight hours or less what the rest of the library ecosphere is incapable of or uninterested in solving during the rest of the year - but that's what makes the Hackfest MAGICAL. Example results of previous Access Hackfests are available from and a podcast by Hackfest alumnus Dan Chudnov that captures the spirit of the Hackfest is available from

We plan to keep the Hackfest suggestions secret until the moment of their unveiling on the morning of October 13th - can you feel the anticipation mounting? - so please submit your challenges in one clearly written paragraph or less via the Hackfest submission form at

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Anachronistic Assumptions About MARC

Interpreting MARC: Where’s the Bibliographic Data? by by Jason Thomale appears in the latest code4lib Journal
The MARC data format was created early in the history of digital computers. In this article, the author entertains the notion that viewing MARC from a modern technological perspective leads to interpretive problems such as a confusion of “bibliographic data” with “catalog records.” He explores this idea through examining a specific MARC interpretation task that he undertook early in his career and then revisited nearly four years later. Revising the code that performed the task confronted him with his own misconceptions about MARC that were rooted in his worldview about what he thought “structured data” should be and helped him to place MARC in a more appropriate context.
Lots of other good reading in the issue too.
I've just been reminded that there was a book covering this same topic written back in 1989. MARC for library use by Walt Crawford. Thomale does not reference the work. Crawford's book is an excellent read, well written. I need to get my copy autographed some day.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Not All the Loonies Are From Texas

Sometimes it seems that Texas has more than its share of crackpots. A Governor who does not accept evolution, a state board of education who removed Thomas Jefferson from a list of important Enlightenment thinkers but then inserted Thomas Aquarius, book burnings, etc. So I'm glad this news comes from Oklahoma, there is a legislative referendum that forbids courts from considering or using Sharia Law. Has this been a problem in OK? Have people gone to court to resolve differences and then been stoned or caned? Or is everything so fine in OK that they have time and resources to spend on imaginary problems rather than ones in the real world?