Friday, May 10, 2002


What is the future of the profession of cataloging? This lunch I read the article "Knowledge Access Management at Lied Library: Cataloging and Web Site Reengineering" by Brad Eden and Kenneth J. Bierman Library Hi Tech Vol. 20. no. 1. (2002) pp. 90-103. It concludes with visions for the cataloging department. Scanning and digitizing, shifting the focus to e-resources, an e-text center, finding grants, continuing education and collaboration with other technology departments on and off campus. I'm not sure all of these belong in the Knowledge Access Management department, which their cataloging department has morphed into. Surely, there is a place for metadata or cataloging in scanning and e-texts but I'm not sure we should be creating the content or even keying the data.

Resource Description Framework

The RDF Primer is an introduction to this possibly important standard.

"The Resource Description Framework (RDF) is a general-purpose language for representing information in the World Wide Web. It is particularly intended for representing metadata about Web resources, such as the title, author, and modification date of a Web page, the copyright and syndication information about a Web document, the availability schedule for some shared resource, or the description of a Web user's preferences for information delivery. RDF provides a common framework for expressing this information in such a way that it can be exchanged between applications without loss of meaning. Since it is a common framework, application designers can leverage the availability of common RDF parsers and processing tools. Exchanging information between different applications means that the information may be made available to applications other than those for which it was originally created. This Primer is designed to provide the reader the basic fundamentals required to effectively use RDF in their particular applications."--abstract.

Thursday, May 09, 2002

Standard Address Number (SAN)

Here is a standard, ANSI/NISO Z39.43 - 1993(R2001) Standard Address Number (SAN) for the Publishing Industry which has been around quite some time. Is anyone using it? Does it make life easier for anyone? Is number this on your letterhead? Just curious.

Summaries or Abstracts

I notice the 10th Biennial OLAC Conference is having a session on creating annotations. That is something I feel is long overdue. There has been little guidance on just how to construct a good abstract for field 520. There is a NISO standard ANSI/NISO Z39.14 - 1997 Guidelines for Abstracts but that is not a good fit. There is a very good article by Sheila S. Intner "Writing Summary Notes for Films and Videos" Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, Vol. 9(2) 1988. That is now 15 years old. It is about time we made the effort to learn how to construct more useful summary notes. Thanks to the OLAC folks for having this session.

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Another Controlled Vocabulary

The NASA Thesaurus is available in PDF format online. This is a huge document, over 1200 pages, so do not try this with a dial up connection. The whole print document is available including the introductory text.

Recently on AUTOCAT someone asked the question "what to read in the area of subject headings and classification?" I do believe that the introduction of several thesaurus and subject heading lists would be a valuable part of that reading list. They provide concrete examples of how and why the list was constructed. The AAT and DDC have perhaps the best introductions but the others give the reader some contrast and renforcement of principles.

Schedule G

The fourth edition (1976) of Class G (Geography. Maps. Anthropology. Recreation) included a section entitled Special Instructions and Tables of Subdivisions for Atlases and Maps, which included detailed information on how to construct call numbers and apply the various tables of subdivisions that are used with subclass G when classifying cartographic materials. These instructions were not included in the 2001 edition of Class G, but have now been updated and are available.

The pages are formatted to be trimmed down and tipped into the schedule book.

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Genre Terms

I mentioned the classification scheme for recorded sound, ANSCR. The Library of Congress has a short list of genre terms to use with sound recordings of radio programs, the Radio Form/Genre Terms Guide. None have to do with music. The list is fairly short. If used it would seem necessary to use it in conjunction with another source for terminology.

Controlled Vocabulary

There are plenty of subject, name, genre and form controlled vocabulary lists available. Most commonly used in libraries are the name and subject lists from the Library of Congress. Another source is the Getty lists. Besides being useful in themselves, they are an excellent source of terms for the SACO and NACO programs.

The Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) is a structured vocabulary of around 125,000 terms, scope notes, and other information for describing fine art, architecture, decorative arts, archival materials, and material culture.

The Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN) is a structured vocabulary of around 1,000,000 geographic names, including vernacular and historical names, coordinates, and place types, and focusing on places important for the study of art and architecture.

The Union List of Artist Names (ULAN) is a structured vocabulary containing around 220,000 names and biographical information about artists and architects, including a wealth of variant names, pseudonyms, and language variants.

Monday, May 06, 2002


My local public library uses the Alpha-Numeric System for Classification of Recordings (ANSCR). It is showing its age, some of the categories are too small and others too large for a popular music collection in a good-sized public library. Still, it has provided access to these materials for quite some time and should be included in any listing of classification schemes.

Cataloging Skills

Recently on AUTOCAT, there has been discussion about the skills needed by a cataloger. Here is my 2 cents. Catalogers are concerned with national and international standards. We have MARC21, AACR, the ISBDs, Z39.50 and so on. We like standards, interoperability, and sharing. However, our reference staff and users come from our local community. They may call a water fountain a bubbler or a submarine sandwich a hero, grinder, po'boy or whatever. They have no sense of standards, just usage. To create a catalog for our users we must be aware of local usage. We can see only the forest and not the trees, while our users and the reference staff who deal with them see only the trees.

Both reference and tech services would benefit from seeing things from the different perspective. It would be ideal if catalogers could sit on the reference desk for four hours a week. Reference staff could work on MARC records for their four hours, adding genre/form headings would be useful and not too much of a stretch. Then catalogers could go back and create some of those cross references in the authority file, add annotations using language of the patron's, create headings for characters that would benefit their local users. The reference folks could see that we are not just making it up to have job security.