Friday, January 22, 2010

It's (going to be) a girl!

My sister found out that her baby will be a girl, so I'm going to have a niece. Yay! Well, I'd be saying "yay" to a nephew, too, but it'll be fun looking at little girl things. I'm also happy that she actually called to let me know - I haven't even heard from her via email in a while.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Large print books

Cathy W. had a question for me yesterday (or maybe today, my memory is like Swiss cheese) that brought something to my attention - there's no way to find large print books using our OPAC, or even, as far as I know, a report in WorkFlows. You can limit a search in WorldCat just to large print books that we own, but it can't generate a list of every large print book we own. The best option right now: I can come up with what is probably an almost complete list of them using OCLC Connexion. Since this list is based on the master records available via Connexion, rather than our own local records, it doesn't include our call numbers. It relies heavily on the assumption that the previous catalogers who added our holdings to those records were paying attention to the little code in the fixed fields that can indicate whether something is large print - it's quite possible that these items we have that are supposedly large print really aren't, and I've already seen that we have a few books that are probably large print but that aren't coded as such in the master records. The biggest drawback, as far as DSL's users and people working at the reference desk are concerned, is that the only one who can generate this list is someone with access to Connexion.

There's a way to fix this, however. There's a subject heading, "Large type books," which I could add to every large print book record we've got (it'd probably be more correct to add it as a local genre heading, but, without a genre index, that would defeat the purpose of creating something that people can actually make use of). The "tidy" way to do this would be to take a look at everything in our holdings that Connexion told me was large print (34 items, as of this morning) and confirm that it really is large print. The faster way to do this would be to just add the subject heading to all 34 records, plus the few stragglers that seem to have miscoded master records - some of them might not actually be large print books, but the project would take up less of my time.

It's not really a "rush" project, so I'm thinking about it for now.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I want to be a cheetah!

Things I learned to do in Second Life yesterday:
  1. Dress myself without accidentally becoming publicly naked.
  2. Unpack free clothing so that, instead of wearing the boxes the clothing comes in, I wear the clothing itself.
My avatar no longer looks like Corporate Barbie - now her appearance better matches her last name, Wikifoo (heehee, Wikifoo). At least, that's what I think. If I can figure out how, I'll try to take a picture of her sometime and post it.

That doesn't mean she's going to continue to look the way she currently does. Once I get brave enough, I'm going to mess with her skin and try to turn her into...a cheetah! Yes, that's right, I think I've managed to pick up a free cheetah skin and I'd like to try it out. My only fear is that I won't be able to figure out how to change it back if I don't like it. It might be kind of embarrassing to show up to a meeting in Second Life looking like a cheetah. Or a fox. Or a wolf. Or a horse. My avatar could be a bipedal horse. With dragons...

As far as my original "I'd like to change my hair color" issue goes, I've now decided that that's not actually possible, at least not the way I had thought it should be. I think I'd have to either figure out how to modify the object (in this case, my hair) or somehow acquire hair in that exact style in whatever color I'd like. Whatever, I know how to unpack boxes now. Ha.

While I know there's still a lot of things I haven't learned how to do, I think I'm ready to try teleporting to another island now. With any luck, I can figure out how to get back to Orientation or Help Island if I'd like to do more relatively "safe" experimenting (and pick up more free stuff).

Designed to fail?

RDA, the new cataloging rules, has been keeping all of us catalogers in suspense for a while. It's now finally about to be officially released, although, in the U.S. at least, it will be in a testing phase, as the Library of Congress and a few other libraries try it decide whether to continue with it. If the Library of Congress decides to continue using it, lots of libraries (such as DSL, for instance) will probably need to adopt it as well.

Even if you put aside all the complaints some catalogers have had about RDA, one thing that has concerned everyone was RDA's pricing. It was made clear that RDA would be primarily an electronic product, and it was assumed that the pricing would probably be subscription-based. However, there haven't been any clear answers whenever catalogers have asked how much it would cost.

Until now. "RDA Toolkit," as the product will officially be called, will cost $325 per year, for a single user at a time (there can be unlimited total users, but only one person can use it at any one time). The pricing for additional concurrent users: 2-9, an additional $55, 10-19, an additional $50, and 20+, an additional $45.

I'm not exactly happy with this, and a lot of other catalogers aren't either. With AACR2, if you buy a print copy, you pay for it (with a binder and no other discounts, probably a little of $100 with shipping), and it belongs to you (or your library) for however long you'd like. When updates came out, you could buy the updates and add them to the binder of rules you already own. If you or your library couldn't afford to buy the updates, you didn't. Your copy of AACR2 would then be out of date, but, get this, you'd still have something you could work with. With the "RDA Toolkit," if your library can't afford to fork up another $325+ next year, you'll have nothing.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

No more "Cookery"!

What I posted previously about changes to "Cookery" in subject headings was only a proposal - now it, or at least aspects of it, is really going to happen. Here's where you can find the details:

The "target date" for the Library of Congress's implementation of these decisions is late May/early June 2010. It'll take a bit for those changes to be reflected in the authority records I get via OCLC Connexion. Happily, I've figured out how to make updating groups of authority records in our system a little faster and less harmful to my elbow, so I can make these changes without too much trouble (I hope).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"I can't find my hair" - my first two sessions in Second Life

I'm one of the people on the informal committee (so informal I'm not sure it can even be called a committee) charged with making sure that the library doesn't get left in the university's dust as it launches its own Second Life presence. I haven't tried to install Second Life on my personal laptop yet - I'm pretty sure it can't handle the graphics and, even if it can, I'm not sure I'm ready for something I'm basically doing for work to take over my evenings. I did install it on my work computer, however, and I tried it out a couple times, once during lunch and once after work. All total, I've spent maybe an hour and a half in Second Life.

I've been involved in relatively simple virtual worlds before - one that ate up a lot of my time was Puzzle Pirates (I was determined to one day own my own ship without ever spending a single dime of real money). My requirements tended to be fairly simple - I needed to like the game, and it needed to be something I could enjoy without having to spend real money. I don't know of any virtual world that doesn't have the option of converting real money into game money, but each world tends to vary in the amount of enjoyment that can be freely had. Plus, some of them require subscription fees. Puzzle Pirates fit my requirements pretty well (and may still fit them, but I haven't played it in over a year - must...resist...the pillaging...).

So, I'm not a complete newbie with this kind of stuff. I've played more complex 3-D games, too, although usually not online. I heard about Second Life a couple years ago and have read a few books on it. It sounded interesting, but I never got around to trying it out. Now that I've tried it, I have to say...if it weren't for the "informal committee," I'm not sure how likely I'd be to continue with it. The learning curve for things that are usually much easier in most other virtual worlds is very steep.

The first thing you do in most virtual worlds is create your avatar. Some things can never be changed again - in Puzzle Pirates, for instance, your name and physical appearance stay the same after you set those up (your physical appearance amounts to your skin color and your hair, because Puzzle Pirates avatars look a lot like Lego people). The thing you can change is your clothing - and there is lots and lots of clothing to choose from, in many different colors. Of course, you have to buy most of it (it's not possible for players to create their own clothing, as it is in Second Life), but earning money in Puzzle Pirates is pretty easy. Setting up your initial appearance and changing your clothing is simple. Even in games I've played that allow more customization, things are still pretty easy to figure out. What causes things to take so long isn't usually the process of figuring out how to do the customization, but rather looking through all the customization options.

Not so with Second Life. A sizable chunk of the hour and a half I spent trying it out today was devoted to trying to figure out how to change my appearance - and reading all kinds of tutorial notes, flying, walking, running, figuring out shortcut keys, trying out gestures, picking up freebies, and learning how to interact with objects. There's tons to learn, and although the info I've been looking at on Help Island is nice, it's not always as helpful as I might like.

Back to the whole appearance thing. I'm probably going to go explore other places and just leave my appearance alone soon, but I'd really like my avatar not to be so generic. I figured out how to change certain aspects of my avatar's body, and I changed the color of her blouse, but the same principle that worked on the blouse does not work on her jacket, pants, and hair. I picked up some free stuff, so I could use that on my avatar instead, but that doesn't solve the problem - all I get is a new hairstyle and new clothes, when what I really want to do is take what I already have and change the color. It's frustrating, but I'm keeping at it, for a little while anyway, because every new thing I try teaches me something about Second Life.

So, in the process of trying stuff out, I made myself bald and then couldn't find my hair again. Rather than go bald, I went around with an enormous pony tail for a while, until I located my original hair and put it back on my skull. Tomorrow I'll try the hair thing again, but I have a feeling I'll give up soon and just teleport someplace else, probably Info Island - I want to see what other libraries have done and how they're doing it. Then, if I can figure out how, I'll go to a university island with a library and see if the library is just there to make the island look more like the real life campus, or if there are actually any interesting things being done.

I knew from past experiences with virtual worlds that they suck up a lot of time, but I think Second Life might be on a whole new level.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Drinking coffee, marveling at the adorableness

Aww. Bear has gotten to the point in his life where he's calm enough and trusting enough that, when he sees me stick my hand into his cage, instead of getting nervous and/or excited, he stretches out and closes his eyes (!), hoping for a good neck rub. So adorable. And I am so wrapped around his little pink fingers.

Anyway, if I can bring myself to write something coherent about it, I plan on writing a post about the newest book on cataloging that I've finished, or at least a post about a few of my favorite articles. I'm up much earlier than I'd like today, so I can hopefully manage to get laundry done - maybe that'll translate into more time later today for blogging? Unless I go to the movies - I haven't decided on that one yet, since the only movie I'd at all want to go see that I haven't seen yet seems more than a little iffy. When even a movie's premise seems awful, the movie itself probably isn't much better, but I might enjoy it anyway because I like the actress who plays the main character. Hmm... (The movie in question, by the way, is Leap Year. Read the premise and try to tell me it doesn't sound bad. Your nose may grow.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Year of Cataloging Research

In case you didn't already know it, 2010 is the "Year of Cataloging Research." Kind of nifty. I wish I could think of something to do research on, or had the time to do the research. The only thing I can think of right now that I'd want to find out is whether some of the more time-consuming things I do actually improve access and use of our materials enough to justify me spending the time to do them. My library research conducting skills are rusty.

Darn - a half-day of doubt

Warning: somewhat long and whiny post.

The retreat today was fun and informative, probably the best part about my day today (not counting my dinner, which will be delicious :D). Unfortunately, aside from that I feel like one of those cartoons where there's a character being followed around by a dark, rainy cloud. Just one of those days, you know?

Aside from being generally confused about the status of the small cart of things I decided could be weeded yesterday (if only I had procrastinated just a bit longer!), my cataloging today was filled with doubt. It wasn't any particular thing that inspired my doubt - just general doubt. Things like:
  • It's the Library of Congress's practice to only record "ill." and/or "map(s)" (for the most part), choosing not to specifically say when those illustrations are actually photographs or portraits or music or charts, etc. On AUTOCAT, not too long ago, a lot of catalogers complained about this lack of specificity and talked about how it could actually be helpful to users to be more specific. Those catalogers are more specific. I follow LC's practice, because I decided I have better things to do with my time than figure out what the various abbreviations and terms are for the different kinds of illustrations. Plus, when I flip through, all I need to pay attention to is whether there any pictures or maps at all, not what any of them actually look like. Sometimes I wonder if this is a mistake, and if it would actually matter to people whether an illustration is a drawing or a photograph, or whether a book has portraits. I have no idea what the catalogers before me did, or if they even thought about it at all.
  • Why do I record/check information in records that people aren't going to see and/or that isn't searchable? The answer to this is that, if it's not recorded/checked now, then if, in the future, it does become searchable (even if only by librarians via reports) and/or visible to the public, the library, our users, our collection, and the Cataloger (me or whoever) will suffer the consequences. Every time I work on catalog maintenance, I see the results of information not being recorded or checked (for whatever reason) - that's part of why I'm such a perfectionist (some might say "anal") about various record details. I understand all of that, and yet there are days when it's a wee bit depressing to enter or check information when I know it has no immediate use.
  • Also, leapfrogging on the whole perfectionism thing, should I care less? If "quantity cataloged" matters more than "quality of the records" (because "quantity," by its nature, is easier to quantify for statistics than "quality") are there things I should be considering no longer doing? The things that take the most time (for book cataloging, anyway) are things like adding new authority records (the things that make sure we have cross-references in our "browse" searches) and adding table of contents information or summaries. DVDs, videotapes, and any original cataloging are also automatically time-consuming. I don't want to "skimp" on things - I wouldn't be doing them if I didn't think they were important - but I think about this kind of thing when I hear about catalogers who've been laid off, or administrators who criticize catalogers for caring too much about the details (isn't that what we're supposed to be doing?). I also think about this kind of stuff when a new project gets added to my "to do" list. Thankfully, as far as the former stuff goes, our library has a pretty "cataloger-friendly" work environment. As far as the latter...ugh.
  • I don't know if you read this blog, Janie, but you might be interested to know that I flip flop between thinking that multiple formats should be on one record and thinking they should each have their own, separate record. I hate that I can't be ok with one decision or the other.
And that's only a sampling of the things that sometimes make me doubt my cataloging. Even as I think these kinds of thoughts, I keep doing things the way I "should" be doing them, or the way I decided I should be doing them, and I think about possible workarounds for anything where the capabilities of the catalog seem to be failing the library (of course, it's always possible that they're not failings, but rather just things where our settings need to be modified...). Still, I prefer the days when these thoughts aren't so much downers as energizers.

Thoughts while pulling stuff for weeding consideration

I spent most of yesterday pulling stuff to potentially weed and then looking over the stuff I pulled. Aside from the depressing reminder that a lot of the stuff we have in some subjects is very old, the task gave me several thoughts (actually, what really got me thinking about some of this was a great ALCTS e-forum, but weeding reminded me).

Say something hasn't circulated much, and we've had it in our collection for a while - I'm wondering, is the real reason some of this stuff hasn't circulated our catalog records? When I catalog stuff, I now add table of contents notes and/or summary notes to almost everything that doesn't already have that information. You'd be amazed at the number of books that don't have this information - I'd say that books on education, computing, and sports seem to be the worst offenders. It can sometimes take a bit of time, but I think it's worth it to input this information for the added keyword access. However, we have tons of records that don't have this information. We even have lots of records that are basically brief records (I have no idea what the exact numbers are, or even if there's a way to find out) - they have title and author information, but not much else. Those materials are basically invisible, unless someone knows the exact title or author or happens to find them while browsing.

It's wishful thinking, I know, but I'd love to one day upgrade some of those crappy records. One way to start would be to identify sections that should be getting more use than they are, or maybe titles that are really hard to find unless you already know how to find them. When I chose to add to the title access points for the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, it was because I knew that it tended to be difficult to find unless you knew how to look for it. I don't know general areas that need that kind of attention, though.

I wonder if there's a good way to find all the brief records in our catalog? The only thing I know about those that separates them from the other records in our catalog is that they tend to be all in caps, but not all records that are all in caps are brief records. Plus, I can't tell our ILS to give me a list of all records like that - it's just not possible to search that way.

Hmm, something for me to think about... Of course, that doesn't mean I'd ever have time to work on all those records. But, if I ever get a student worker, one I could trust to work directly on our records, I could have that person add table of contents information as part of a project.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Picture books finished, I think

I'm pretty sure I've finished cataloging all the new children's literature, unless there are some stragglers I missed. Woohoo, happy dance! (And I bet I know someone else who'll like this news.) The batch I just finished had an awful lot of titles that fit the whole "LC doesn't do series tracing anymore" issue, so I had to do more record editing than usual. Even that didn't slow me down as much as it could have, though - I love my new procedures!