Monday, July 27, 2009

Literal downloads vs. spiritual ones

I cataloged an odd one today - The Power of Soul by Dr. Zhi Gang Sha. On the dust jacket it says "Soul Song For Rejuvenation Download Included." I took this to mean that there's an actual download that one can retrieve - since there's another release of this book that includes a CD, I figured the download would include the same "soul songs" as the CD. It turns out I take things too literally. Apparently, this is a spiritual download that is "preprogrammed" into the book, which will be "downloaded" into one's soul, unless one is not ready to receive them. The original note in our record, which just had the text about the download as it is written on the book's dust jacket, was misleading, so I've changed it. It now reads:

"'Soul song for rejuvenation download included'--Dust jacket. This is not a literal download, but rather a spiritual download."

Still not really clear, but I'm not sure the English language is prepared to properly communicate something like this. This is quite possibly the most interesting "extra" I've ever had to figure out how to describe.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More books online

I've been using Podiobooks a lot lately for my work listening - I think I burned out on webcasts, so getting back to audio books has been nice. I've listened to 3 complete works so far (almost 3, actually) and enjoyed 2 of them. I'm on the very last file of the 3rd work, so I'm going to have to decide what to listen to next. One thing I do wish the site had is the ability to limit a search to completed books and to a particular category at the same time. The closest I've been able to come to doing this is to limit my search to completed books and then do a keyword search for the category as it is listed in the category list. Still, it'd be nice if there were something like an advanced search - that's going to become more important as Podiobooks collects more titles.

If I had an e-book reader, I might also find myself visiting Internet Archive a lot for my home reading. It might take some doing to find stuff I'd actually want to read during my free time, but there's quite a lot here.

Expert Community Experiment activity

From an email sent by Glenn E. Patton, Director, WorldCat Quality Management, on 7/14/09:
"In June, activity was higher with 19,387 replaces compared to 16,704 in May. That brings us to a total of 79,406 Expert Community replaces since the Experiment started in February. The number of Expert Community replaces continues to be higher than any other type of replace.

1,011 institutions did at least one replace during the month of June
with 16 institutions doing more than 200 replaces. 1573 institutions have
done at least 1 replace during the span of the Experiment with 449 having activity each month.

Intensive review of replaced records for the month of May has been completed and the June review has started. As we announced at the beginning of the Experiment, it will last at least until August 15th. As we make more progress with the review process, we will have more information about future plans.

Here are statistics for other types of replaces during June:

Database Enrichment: 16, 992 (up from 15,950)
Minimal-Level Upgrade: 14,185 (up from 13,178)
Enhance Regular: 15,212 (down from 15,521)
Enhance National: 3400 (up from 2,998)
CONSER Authentication: 1,490 (up from 1,118)
CONSER Maintenance: 5,785 (up from 5,410)"

It's tough to tell, because the stats I can see online for the number of record replaces I've done don't say how many of the replaces fall under the Expert Community Experiment, but it's possible that the Dick Smith Library is one of the 16 institutions that did more than 200 replaces last month. I looked up my numbers, and I did 202 record replaces - if those all count under the Expert Community Experiment, then Dick Smith Library is one of those 16 institutions. Yay! There's no actual reward for this, other than knowing I made some of the master records in WorldCat a little better just by doing the work I normally do, but it's still kind of cool. We're not an Enhance library, and I don't think we'll ever be, so I hope that the Expert Community Experiment will become a permanent thing - I like being able to fix glaring errors and/or omissions in WorldCat master records. If this experiment doesn't become a permanent thing, I'll just have to go back to not fixing master records - it takes too much effort to figure out what sorts of changes I can and can't do, and I don't have the time to send out error reports (with, in some cases, faxed proof) for everything I can't fix myself.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dear Author and Google Book Settlement

I just finished reading Part 1 of what will apparently be a series of posts about the Google Book Settlement on Dear Author. It was a little hard for me to follow, but it doesn't sound all that great for the authors involved (which, if I understand this correctly, could be any author, ever). When all the parts of the series have been put up, I'll have to read it all through again, and maybe draw myself some diagrams and charts or something.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

"I'd like a short book..."

I love book discussion groups - when I was an undergrad, I was in a couple, one for Sci-Fi stuff and another that was all over the map. Neither of them lasted very long, but I had a lot of fun and read some books I probably wouldn't have otherwise. When I was in grad school, I stopped doing the book discussion group thing for a while, but I had a friend at another university who was in an interesting one - they'd read anything, but only if it was 200 pages or less. Even students with busy schedules could handle a short book like that each month or so. I'm still thinking about starting up a book discussion group of my own, and it's gotten me thinking about groups I've been a part of or have heard about. So, I was wondering, how would I handle it if someone like my friend told me they needed a short book? How would I find a book like that in our catalog? Plus, I've had students come up to the reference book needing to find something, anything (or nearly anything - there seems to always be a broad topical focus), to read and review for a class. Understandably, students don't usually want to tackle something like a 600 page book if there's a 300 page book that would work just as well. So, how would I handle that?

The best answer I can come up with involves combining knowledge about MARC, Sirsi, and wildcards (however, as my mom often tells me, I have a tendency to make things harder on myself than is necessary, so there may be an easier way to do all of this). A while back, I wrote a post about how to search individual MARC fields in records in our catalog. In MARC records, the 300 field has, among other things, pagination information. In our catalog, a ? symbol is used as a substitute for a single missing character (a $ symbol is for multiple characters, by the way - I keep forgetting).

If I wanted a book that was between 200 and 300 pages, a good search might be

[words or phrase search] 2?? {300}

It would be best to do this as an advanced search, probably limited to Type - Books. An advanced search would also make it less confusing to narrow the search down to a particular topic.

With patience and the use of limits and Boolean operators, you could come up with a search that could, for instance, retrieve any fiction in the General Stacks that is less than 200 pages - although your results list would probably still include false positives (see the next paragraph).

There are various limitations to this approach that need to be kept in mind. For instance, an average 300 field for a book might look something like "iv, 367 p. : ill. ; 20 cm." If you're doing a search for double digit pagination, you'll probably end up retrieving some items just on the basis of their measurements. If you're doing a search and don't limit it to Type - Books (or something similar), you may end up with audiobooks or something else you don't want (unless you're looking for audiobooks with a length of a certain number of minutes, but, because of the way lengths of audiobooks and CDs are sometimes recorded, even that can have problems). Another limitation is that, although the pagination may say "600 p.", 150 of those pages may be endnotes and index. Sometimes there's a note in the record that will tell you how many pages of bibliographical information there is, but not always, and even this isn't necessarily an accurate indicator of the "readable" length of the book.

Despite all of that, I have to say I love the ability to search certain specific MARC fields. There are so many potential applications! I'm just not sure I'd remember any of them when at the reference desk, but that's part of the reason why I'm recording them here.