Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A way to search individual MARC fields

I just found out something incredibly awesome from someone on the AUTOCAT listserv and thought I'd write a quick post about it before I forgot.

For a long while now, I've wished that there were a way to search for information in particular MARC fields. For instance, say I want to find something by a particular publisher. This isn't the best example, but maybe I'm looking for something published by "Harcourt." It's possible to do a Title search, Author search, Subject search, etc., but it's not possible to do a publisher search - except, it turns out that there sort of it, if you know what you're doing.

If you didn't know what you were doing and wanted to search for books published by Harcourt, you'd probably try a Keyword and "Words or Phrase" search for "Harcourt." At the time of this post, you would retrieve 2,111 results. Lots of them are published by Harcourt, but some of them aren't.

If you did know what you were doing (and you were using a Sirsi catalog, which is what DSL uses), you would still do a Keyword and "Words or Phrase" search. However, instead of searching for "Harcourt," you would try:

Harcourt {260}

You would retrieve 2,057 results - as I said, this isn't the best example, but even with this example you can see that the search became more specific. The results will more accurately reflect what you wanted to retrieve.

The numbers in the curly brackets are a field (I think Sirsi calls them tags in their documentation) value. In MARC, the 260 field includes publication and distribution information (it can also include a few other things, but, in our case, it usually doesn't). By using the curly brackets, you are limiting the search to a particular field.

As a cataloger, I find this to be nifty news, and I think I need to figure out how to get the news out to the other librarians at DSL. Unfortunately, as a cataloger I also understand that the number of people who will be able to make use of this search is very limited. Even when told about this search, most people still wouldn't be able to use it right off the bat. First, you'd have to know which field you wanted to search - I don't think many of the librarians at DSL besides myself know even the most basic MARC fields (but you can try looking them up here), since they tend to deal with the more people-friendly side of things. Our users certainly won't know the fields. Second, for some fields, it helps to know how cataloging rules work. For instance, the rules allow for publishers' names to get abbreviated. You might see "John Wiley & Sons" in our catalog, but you might also see "J. Wiley," or (I think) even just "Wiley."

Still, it's exciting news. I tried to do a genre (field 655) search using this method, and it didn't work out, but I'm going to see if I can figure out how to fix that. I'll probably have to talk to Tracy, who might have to talk to the Sirsi people...

Hail - eek!

For the most part, I've enjoyed Stephenville's weather, but I definitely don't like its hail. During the last hailstorm we had (the first one I've experienced since moving here), my poor, 5-month-old car got lots of little dents. I ended up not getting it fixed, because I'm not made of money, I recently had to pay a deductible to fix the car after someone hit it in a parking lot, and the damage was basically just cosmetic.

According to various weather news sources, we're in for some thunderstorms and hail today. I'm hoping for no additional damage, but, if something does happen, I'd prefer it to be no worse than last time. Oh, my poor car. :o(

Podcasts while cataloging

Usually I listen to anime radio when I catalog - lots of their songs remind me of shows I enjoy, plus it helps that I don't understand most of the songs and am therefore not focused on the lyrics (although, embarrassingly enough, I've listened to this for long enough that I can now sing along to some of the songs, whether or not I actually understand the lyrics). However, I'm going to try to listen to more library/information science podcasts while I catalog - there's lots of great information out there, and I'm basically a captive audience as I catalog.

I decided to start this with a podcast interview with Jeff Pollack, about his book The Semantic Web for Dummies. Although I didn't understand everything they talked about, it was interesting, and I might see about reading the book sometime. The website I've linked to has the podcast and links to resources mentioned in the podcast.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sports manga and children's fiction

I'm not really going to have an "Interesting books cataloged" post this week - I did a lot of pretty-looking picture books, and a few interesting-looking novels for children and young adults. I thought I'd mention one of those novels, though, Two-Minute Drill by Mike Lupica [PZ7 .L97914 TW 2007].

Although I've mentioned before that I like anime and manga, I haven't really said what genres I like. Just saying you like anime or manga is like saying you like books and movies - you're not saying anything specific, just that you like a certain format. Well, much to my surprise, I discovered a few years back that I enjoy sports manga. I don't watch sports, I don't keep up with sports, I don't even know the rules for a lot of the different games, and yet I love several different sports manga - my favorites are Whistle! (soccer), Eyeshield 21 (American football), and Hikaru no Go (which is about a board game, not a sport, but it uses some of the same conventions, so I'm counting it). Several of my favorite titles have the whole "underdog triumphs" thing going on, which I just love. I also love reading about really intense and often unorthodox training, friendships, etc. Unfortunately, lots of shonen manga tend to be very lengthy - I think Whistle! is at least in the 20s as far as numbers of volumes are concerned. It's going to take some effort to keep up with it and other titles via ILL.

The back of Two-Minute Drill sounds a lot like Whistle! to me - I should try it out sometime.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Interesting books cataloged March 2-6

There's lots this week, since I cataloged quite a few gift books as part of a little project to try to figure out how to use Workflows and OCLC Connexion together.
  • The thirteenth tale : a novel by Diane Setterfield [PR6119.E86 T48 2006] - The description for this book reminds me a bit of the anime movie Millennium Actress (not the director's best, but still quite good, and certainly jaw-dropping at points).
  • Mr. Timothy : a novel by Louis Bayard [PS3552 .A85864 M7 2003] - As far as I can tell, this is almost "A Christmas Carol" fan fiction. "Mr. Timothy" is Timothy Crachit from the original story.
  • The Audubon quartet by Ray Sipherd [PS3569 .I59 A94 1998] - An art-related mystery.
  • Eye of the archangel : a Mallory and Morse novel of espionage by Forrest DeVoe [PS3604 .E887 E94 2007] - The cover makes me think of James Bond.
  • The survivors club by Lisa Gardner [PS3557 .A7132 S87 2002]
  • The Da Vinci code : a novel by Dan Brown [PS3552 .R685434 D3 2003] - I've heard that this book's writing is actually quite bad - this only makes me want to read it more, to judge for myself and finally see what the fuss was all about.
  • Cause of death by Patricia Cornwell [PS3553.O692 C38 1996] - Yet another Cornwell book on the list.

I also cataloged several children's picture books (with many more on the way - two shelves of my 6-shelf book truck are full of picture books).

Feeding the "quality vs. quantity" fire

One of the big topics of discussion this week (and maybe last week as well) on the AUTOCAT listserv has been quality vs. quantity when it comes to cataloging. A few catalogers admit to grudgingly accepting the "quantity is more important than quality" side of the argument, but most believe that quantity actually suffers because of many libraries' lack of concentration on the quality of the records they produce. If the cataloger who originally creates a record concentrates on quality, all later catalogers who use the record for copy cataloging benefit, because they won't have to edit the record as much. It's an idea I agree with - I'll also add that there are some errors that won't necessarily be caught by copy catalogers. If those errors (such as incorrect call numbers) are caught after the item has been processed and shelved, then there is the additional time and expense of fixing the mistake.

I think the thing that started this whole debate was OCLC's Expert Community Experiment. Some catalogers fear it, because not everyone who can take part in the experiment is truly an expert. I may be very comfortable cataloging books, but even with those I don't have as much experience as some. If I felt like it, I could edit the master records for item types I'm not as familiar with, like music or maps - unless it's an obvious typo, I probably wouldn't, but the point is that I could.

I understand this fear, since I kind of share it, but, overall, I think the experiment is a good thing. It's nice to be able to immediately edit a master record and make it better for everyone, not just for me and the Dick Smith Library. When it's not possible for me to make an obviously necessary edit, it's annoying - an example would be a book I worked on today that most on AUTOCAT agreed matched a record with an error in the subtitle. However, that particular record was protected from the experiment, so I had to submit the error to OCLC. The WorldCat record may or may not get edited. In the meantime, I used that record and did all the necessary edits locally. It works for our library, but the record in WorldCat is still wrong.

I didn't mean for it to happen, but the question I put out on AUTOCAT about this particular book just seemed to fuel the quantity vs. quality fire. Some people may find cataloging boring, but catalogers feel very strongly about cataloging - it's been a heated discussion at times.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Interesting books cataloged Feb. 23-27

We'll see how doing just one of these lists a week goes....
  • From Potter's field by Patricia Cornwell [PS3553 .O692 F76 2005] - This is from her Kay Scarpetta series, which I've heard of but haven't yet read any of. I tried reading one of her most recent ones, Book of the Dead or something like that, but I didn't get very far. I'm willing to try again, however.
  • What schools ban and why by R. Murray Thomas [LB3012.2 .T56 2008] - I'm mostly interested in this book for its chapter on book banning in schools/school libraries, but the rest of the book looks like it could be pretty interesting as well.
  • Fiction writer's workshop : the key elements of a writing workshop by Josip Novakovich [PN3355 .N68 2008] - This would probably be a good book to check out during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which is not actually national but sounds better that way). I have participated twice and haven't yet come even close to finishing.