Monday, February 22, 2010

One step closer to fixing the "smooshed" fields!

I emailed the MarcEdit listserv for advice and now have a regular expression that I can modify that will hopefully be able to take care of a large chunk of the "smooshed" fields in our older records. Very, very nice, plus I plan on taking this regular expression apart as part of a project to learn more about MarcEdit's regular expressions. I've used regular expressions in Microsoft Word (they're called wildcards there) and have done some nifty things, so I'm excited about the prospect of learning how to do similar things in MarcEdit.

Now I just have to carve out the time for all of that "playing." All the webinars last week and the time I spent figuring out how to globally change the type on our thesis and dissertation records lost me most of the small lead I managed to gain over the Processing students, so it may be a while before I'll have the time to do a lot.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The 590 field

(Warning, very long post ahead. However, it might contain useful information for those of you who've wondered about the apparent gobbledygook you may have spotted in a "Local note" in our records. By the way, I thought we'd set things up so that those no longer displayed in our book records, but apparently I'm wrong. Argh. Anyway, I've thought about writing a post like this in the past, because I've had people at the library - librarians and staff, not students or faculty - ask me what "that stuff" was in our records. Writing this post feels kind of like giving away library secrets or something. I'm not sure why.)

This is the field I love to hate (as it's used at DSL, since what 590 is used for can vary from library to library), even as I am occasionally able to admit its usefulness. I hate it (dislike it?) for four main reasons:
  1. It contains item-specific information. Admittedly, I'm coming at this from the standpoint of a cataloger, but, to my mind, bibliographic records shouldn't contain this sort of information - if you want to record item-specific information, you should do so in a note in the item record. That way, if you withdraw the item, you delete the item record, and the note is gone. In a 590, the note is there forever, even if the item is long since gone, replaced by something that would now be copy 10, if copies 1 through 9 still existed. You wouldn't even necessarily see 10 590s in the record - there will probably only be one, the one created when the very first copy was cataloged.
  2. The information recorded in the 590 is not necessarily recorded in a controlled manner, even though it may appear that it is. A simple example is "Biology," which is usually recorded as "Bio" in 590s, but I have also seen it as "Biol".
  3. Certain aspects of the 590 may not always consistently mean the same thing from one 590 to the next.
  4. From a "streamlining of the cataloging workflow" perspective, it kind of gets in the way. I won't go into detail on that, because this post would probably double in length, and no one really wants to read all of that anyway.

If you haven't stumbled upon a 590 in our records yet, here's what one looks like in our OPAC (in general - 590s for gifts tend to be missing certain bits of information, 590s for memorials have additional information, and certain things in 590s for gifts and memorials are defined differently than they are for everything else):

The first part, the 8-digit number, is the item's barcode. I'll admit that this can be useful to have in the bibliographic record, because it means that anyone can quickly and easily find the record for something, even if they don't have access to WorkFlows. Unless of course the record doesn't have a 590 for that particular item (see "reason I hate 590s" #1, plus all the other reasons there might not be a 590 for each item).

The second part, in this case "BT", is the vendor. I try to enter this in a consistent way, so Baker & Taylor is always BT, Amazon is always AMZ, Blackwell's is always BBS, etc. However, I don't think I was always this consistent when I first started, and I have no idea what people before me did.

The next part is tricky. You might think that this is the code for the particular fund that paid for the item, but this isn't always the case - that's why this particular 590 is such a good example. See, when I, the Cataloger, get a book from Acquisitions, sometimes the only clue I have as to where something is intended to be shelved is what's written in the book (or on the printout slipped in the book/DVD/CD/whatever). Sometimes it's obvious where something should be shelved - picture books are easy. Sometimes it's not so obvious - books for Limited (with the added complication of "where in Limited?") can be especially hard for me to identify. Sometimes something says "CurrJuv" in the 590 because that's the fund that paid for it, but sometimes it says CurrJuv because it's supposed to be shelved in the Curriculum Collection, even though the money for the book came out of another fund. I've been trying to encourage the use of color-coded flags to indicate what a book's location is supposed to be, but it hasn't been working out very well. So, in the meantime, my main source of location information is either what's written in the book (which ends up in the 590), instinct, and telepathy. My instinct is getting slightly sharper, my telepathy not so much. By the way, this is another portion of the 590 that may not be typed consistently from one record to the next. See "reason I hate 590s" #2.

I have no idea what the next part means. Seriously, I don't. For a while there, I thought it meant "Selector", since that's what the ancient notes left behind by previous catalogers that I unearthed in my office said. I think that sometimes it does mean "Selector." In the case of my sample 590, that's probably true. In other instances... Anyway, almost all of the 590s I've entered since I've started working here say either "Tennyson" or "Pape." Maybe it means, "this is who approved the use of money for this item?" But I don't think even that's true... I should probably have yet another talk with Jodee about this bit. I've talked with her about it before, but never in much depth.

The next bit is the date we received the item. It's pretty straightforward, I think. I don't know if previous catalogers entered the date in MM/DD/YY format, but I don't - February 2, 2010 is 2/2/10 for me, not 02/02/10. If you're trying to formulate a search of the dates in our 590s, how this date has been entered makes a difference. I only know how I've been entering it.

Last is the cost of the item. Also pretty straightforward. I never use a dollar sign, and I don't think any cataloger before me has, either.

I have so far thought up one useful search involving the 590, but it has serious limitations. However, if I don't forget, I'll post it soon. I have to hunt through my email to see if I can find that one where I put together the search with Biology in mind.

And now, to bed - I must get up at 3 AM to coddle my rat. He has me wrapped around his tiny pink fingers (yes, toes, I know, but they look like tiny lady fingers), but at least he repays me with cuteness. He curled up and fell asleep in my hand today for a full hour, and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Info for the staff blog?

I don't post much on the staff blog (actually, I don't think I've posted anything at all in months there). It feels kind of weird posting there, I guess because, prior to coming here (to DSL), I'd had no experience posting on blogs with multiple authors. Plus, I'm never sure if some of the things I think about are things people would actually want to see posted on the staff blog - which brings me to the reason I'm writing this post.

I was talking to Cathy W. about a search I had formulated for a Biology professor (mainly because I wanted an excuse to contact him, just to remind him that I exist). That got us to talking about some of the other searches I've formulated and posted on this blog (click "searching" in the labels list for a few examples). Some of the searches are relatively simple, like the one for limiting a search to musical scores. Some of them are a bit nastier, with long explanations that are kind of necessary if you want to be able to customize them for your needs and understand their limitations (like the post I wrote on searching for books, or limiting a search, by number of pages) - plus, the explanations help me vent my nerdiness. It's hard for me to tell what kinds of things others might actually want to know about, and what kinds of things would just make people's eyes glaze over. I post them on this blog because I figure people can either choose to read what I write or not, and there will be a general expectation that occasionally I'll be boring and wordy.

But, should I post some of this stuff on the staff blog? Stuff like the scores post, yes, stuff like the number of pages post, no? All searches I think up, no matter how complicated-looking, yes? Any thoughts?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's Colorado in Texas!

I'm absolutely amazed at all the snow outside right now - and I'm pathetically glad I don't have to be outside in it anymore today. Anyone who likes snow has obviously not had to be out in it much. Unfortunately, taking my comp time today didn't exempt me from going out on the road. I drove as much today as I usually do in a month.

I took Bear to the vet today, sort of hoping that all he had was an abscess. The vet took some fluid, looked at it, and decided it was probably a tumor. With a tumor, the only options are surgery to remove it, or letting it continue to grow. Even a benign tumor can eventually interfere with internal organs and movement. Since they'd had good success with doing surgery on older rats in the past (my fear was that Bear would be considered too old for surgery to be safe), I decided to go for it.

It's going to be a rough next 10 days. Bear had not one, but two lumps removed - a tiny one on his thigh and a larger one on his shoulder. He can't reach the sutures on his shoulder, but he already managed to completely chew out the ones on his thigh. Now he has staples there, as well as an E-collar to keep him from messing with them. I'm hoping that overfilling his food bowl will allow him to eat with the collar on, because I don't relish the idea of having to take the collar off and put it back on several times a day. He'll probably have to live in his small carrying cage for the next 10 days, until the stitches can be removed, because I don't like the idea of him going up and down the ramps in his cage while he's got the collar on. I'm crossing my fingers that everything heals up ok, without any infection.

I'm exhausted and hoping that it snows and snows until the library is declared closed tomorrow. All that driving in this weather, while simultaneously worrying about Bear, wasn't very restful. Also, when I went to WalMart to pick up some stuff for Bear, I locked myself out of my car and had to walk home and back again to get my spare car key (I've already thanked my dad for advising me to keep a spare house key in my wallet). I was not, unfortunately, very well dressed for the weather, so I think I'm going to drink some Throat Tea and hope I stay healthy.

I hope everybody stays safe!

(Oops, just remembered that I have to finish up an LOL blog post for tomorrow. I've got one almost finished, but I hate it. Maybe I'll finish it up and schedule it to be published anyway. --Update: I wrote an entirely different, holiday-themed blog post, but I haven't yet trashed my original post.)

Monday, February 8, 2010

RDA Toolkit

I just finished the webinar, so, while I can still remember:

I got to see the beta version of the RDA Toolkit in action (The release date is sometime in June of this year. Or, considering how things have gone with RDA, maybe sometime in July. Or later.). The reason it's called the "toolkit" is because it contains not only RDA (the rules which catalogers have been poring over, in their PDF form, since they were first made available maybe a year ago - sorry, can't remember the exact date), but also AACR2, RDA: Element set view, and "more to come." The "collection of stuff" aspect makes me think of Cataloger's Desktop. The RDA Toolkit is not, at this time, planned to be included as part of any products like Cataloger's Desktop - you'd have to buy both separately. Apparently there are plans in the works for allowing connections between the RDA Toolkit and various ILSs, OCLC Connexion, and more.

Although libraries will pay for a limited number of concurrent users, this number is unrelated to the number of profiles - an unlimited number of profiles will be allowed. I'm guessing that, with different profiles, different people can create their own personal workflows, bookmarks, etc.

The browsing and searching features of RDA were shown. I didn't see any kind of index and asked about it - the question wasn't answered during the presentation, but I think I'm probably going to get an email response sometime. I hope there will be an index, because I'm not sure I can remember RDA's wordings for things, and I know it'd take me ages to find what I want via browsing. Another option would be to use AACR2's index, then use the AACR2 rule number search available in the Toolkit, and then hope that there's a link between the rule in AACR2 to the corresponding rule in RDA. Or I could write my own index (::shudder::). Or some industrious cataloger somewhere could write an index and share it, and then probably be shot down by ALA Publishing for copyright violation or something. Sorry, sorry, moving on...

There are currently no plans for a print version of RDA because it would "do a disservice to what was originally intended to be an electronic product." This, and/or the pricing for the Toolkit, still annoys me, and I'm not sure I did a good job of explaining why in my last post. It boils down to this: I catalog pretty much the same stuff over and over. I know the basic rules well enough that I don't need to consult them all the time. I only consult them when I come across some unusual situation or when I catalog something I haven't cataloged in a while or ever. What that all means is that I only actually look through my copy of AACR2 maybe once every few weeks or months. And ALA Publishing will expect us to pay $325 each year for this. I'm not sure if they've thought about how real, flesh-and-blood catalogers use the current rules - what they've laid out here seems to indicate that they haven't. Anyway, the other option would be to print out each chapter and keep them in what will probably need to be multiple binders. I'm not sure if updates to RDA will be announced, so it may not be possible to pinpoint sections that need to be reprinted.

Consortia will get special pricing, but it's not yet clear what that will be.

Short-term additional users will be granted for training purposes.

The "free trial for all" period will be from June 2010 to August 31, 2010. It will end August 31, 2010, regardless of when the actual release date is. By the way, the software is "in pretty good shape, but not perfect yet" - it seems likely that there will be a flurry of updating the first few months. October 1st to December 31st will be the period during which the test sites will create records using RDA. January to March 2011 will be the period of record evaluation.

The RDA Toolkit looks a bit daunting to use, particularly for those who have never cataloged before (Intro to Cataloging classes are about to get scarier). One nice thing for practitioners, though - libraries can create Workflows, which they can then choose to share with others in their library, or even make public. Hopefully the Library of Congress (and perhaps OCLC?) will make Workflows available to the public. Even if all they make public is a Basic Book Workflow, that's at least something that someone like me could look through and try to learn about RDA from. Because, quite frankly, the browse view of RDA looks no less daunting than the PDFs did. If I remember correctly, the printed-out table of contents was more than 70 pages.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

So very lazy

I used to try to get stuff done during my mornings off. Now I sleep and do useless stuff on the Internet. YouTube, Facebook, and webcomics. At the very least, I should slog through some more Second Life (and I might actually do that in a bit) or write some book blog posts. There's also plenty of time to make muffins, do a little housework, get a haircut, and finish up an ILL book.

I don't see any of that happening this morning. In fact, it's chilly enough that I'm considering just going back to bed for a while. Brrr. At least I managed to make a batch of muffins last night (Chocolate Cream, in which the "cream" part is sour cream - very good, uses one bowl, and easy to make). I'm still considering what I'll make for the bake sale next week. Chocolate Cream? Blackberry? Pear? Or maybe even one of the savory muffins, like Parmesan Herb or Rye? Decisions, decisions...

Limiting by language...still looking

As a former German minor, and as someone who is half German and occasionally forces herself to crack open a book written in German, our catalog's language limiter bothers me a lot. I'm still looking for a way to limit by the language of an item in our OPAC. In an attempt to just retrieve things that are in German, I've tried:




The first search fails. The second search acts they way the language limiter in our advanced search does, limiting the search to everything that's in German, was originally in German but has been translated into something else, has subtitles in German, has some text (but not all) in German, has librettos in German, etc. I'm going to have to dig through some help files sometime and see if there's another value I can put in the curly brackets that will do what I want.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A quick way to find scores at DSL

(Inspired by the questions I've gotten at the reference desk, asking for our scores.)

Provided that the physical descriptions are done correctly, this search should retrieve all our scores. You can use the same search as part of an advanced search, too.

Here it is:


I ♥ curly brackets.

I'm currently considering writing up a future LOL blog post featuring nifty (well, nifty to me, at least) searches like this. On the one hand, advanced searches like this might be too freaky-looking. On the other hand, you can do some great things with them that you can't necessarily do any other way with publicly available tools (as opposed to WorkFlows and OCLC Connexion).

Monday, February 1, 2010

Bending time in the library

February 2010 has only just started, and yet I am magically transported into the next year - Media and criminal justice : the CSI effect by Dennis J. Stevens is the library's very first book with a copyright date of 2011.