Monday, March 29, 2010

DSL audiobook cataloging changes

I'm just about done cataloging all our new audiobooks. In order to speed up the cataloging of audiobooks and, I hope, improve the way they're displayed in our catalog, here's some things I've started doing. Note to any catalogers who may stumble upon this: these are local edits only, so don't freak out. I rarely edit audiobook master records.
  • Statements such as "abridged" and "unabridged" are moved from the 500 field (a miscellaneous "note" field) to the 250 field (used for edition statements). Although these statements aren't technically edition statements, according to the way they're defined in OCLC Bibliographic Formats and Standards (I wasn't able to find anything this specific in AACR2, so AACR2 may be more flexible in its definition of "edition"), even if 500 notes for audiobooks displayed in our OPAC, and I don't believe they do, it would take a little work for our users to see what many audiobook listeners consider important information.
    What this means for catalog users: Whether an audiobook is abridged or unabridged will display right next to the title in our results lists.
  • I'm no longer listening to even a portion of each audiobook. According to AACR2, the chief source of information for sound recordings is, for CDs, the disc and label and, for cassettes, the cassette and label. Listening to the discs wasn't really accomplishing anything other than making the cataloging process take quite a bit longer.
    What this means for catalog users: Probably not much, unless the discs are defective in some way. In theory, listening to the discs also allowed me to spot-check them for problems. I still visually examine the discs for scratches, but I could potentially miss problems that might only make themselves known by listening to the discs. However, by the time I catalog things, it's usually well past the period when we'd be able to send something back. If we were truly concerned about defective discs, we'd need to have our Acquisitions students check them as they received them.
  • As I mentioned in my previous post, I now add the 306 field, which contains standardized playing time information, to each record that doesn't have it. Although this may add a little to the time it takes to edit an audiobook record, it doesn't add much - this takes less time to do than adding a 590.
    What this means for catalog users: Probably not much, unless they want to try my advanced search, with all its annoying limitations. However, without this field, any kind of limiting by playing time is next to impossible.
  • I don't record producers, directors, etc. in audiobook records. In most cases, I'd have to at least listen to the first and last discs (or cassettes, although I've only had to deal with CDs so far) to get this information, skipping to the last track of the last disc and carefully fast forwarding until I got to the credits. I've done this before - this added significantly to the time it took to catalog an audiobook, and I kept asking myself, "What's the point?" I doubt our users are interested in the producer and director of, say, the audiobook version of Blink. Rest assured, I always record and add access points for audiobook readers.
    What this means for catalog users: In the event that they actually are interested in audiobook producers, directors, etc., they're out of luck.

Ok, I think that's all the main changes I've recently made to the way I catalog our audiobooks. While certain information is left out that wouldn't have been before, I don't think the information is important to our users - if I'm wrong and someone has come to the reference desk asking about something that I'm now leaving out of records, let me know. The primary benefit of several of these changes is that audiobooks are getting cataloged much faster. This not only benefits me - it benefits our users, who get to see audiobooks on the shelves sooner and who don't have to wait ages for me to get back to cataloging print books because the audiobooks are taking up all of my time.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Audiobooks - limiting by playing time

I'm working on cataloging a big stack of audiobooks, and looking over my "Audiobook Cheat Sheet" reminded me of something. A while back, I wrote a post about limiting searches to books of certain lengths. I mentioned that the method I was writing about for books could be used for audiobooks, but that it had certain severe limitations, because of the way audiobook lengths can be recorded in the 300 field.

Well, it turns out that there is a perfectly easy method of limiting audiobooks searches by length (although even this method has its limitations - see below). The problem is that the records have to have the proper field, and I know not all of ours do (we have more than 500 audiobooks, and I think only slightly more than one fifth of them have records than include the necessary field).

Basically, field 306 is for recording "playing time" in a standard manner. For all the details, see the MARC 21 Standards page for this field. Playing time is always recorded as hhmmss, where h is hours, m is minutes, and s is seconds. So, a sound recording that is 2 hours and 30 minutes long would be recorded as 023000.

Although the search one needs to perform to limit by information recorded in this field is what I would consider "advanced," it's a relatively easy advanced search. Simply use ? in place of any number you're not particularly concerned with. For instance, if I know I'd like an audiobook that's no more than 3 hours long, I could limit my search (an Advanced Search with Type: Audiobook selected) by adding, as a General Keyword search, 03????{306}

Now for the limitations. As far as I know, there's no way to use wildcards so that you can search for all audiobooks that are, say, less than three hours, including audiobooks that are 2 hours and 15 minutes, or only 30 minutes long. If you wanted something like that, I think you'd be limited to constructing the General Keyword part of the search so that it looks something like this: (03???? OR 02???? OR 01???? OR 00????){306} Finding things that are, say, more than 3 hours long could be pretty complicated. I had thought NOT would be a useful Boolean operator, but I'm not sure how I'd start the whole thing - (NOT 02???? NOT 01???? NOT 00????){306} isn't a permissible search.

Annoying, yes? If anyone can think of an easier way to construct searches for ranges of playing times, I'd love to hear it. Still, I suppose it could be worse. The lack of 306 fields in our records is probably the biggest limitation right now, but, since this information would already be recorded in the 300 fields, it wouldn't be too difficult to add 306 to the records that don't have it. At the very least, I'm going to make sure to add 306 to any new records I add to our system. It's too bad the information isn't easier to use, but maybe it will be one day in the future.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Authority control, without the shoulder pain

For most people at DSL, the biggest benefit of all those unsmooshed fields we now have in our catalog is that subject and name headings can now be used properly. For me, the biggest benefit is that I can now run reports that will allow me to do some of our authority work in batches. The process still takes time, and there are so very many headings that will need to be dealt with individually, but being able to do any of this in batch makes me happy. Yesterday, I started writing up procedures for how the reports need to be run and massaged so that batch searching with them is possible, but I've already loaded 10,000 or so authority records with the help of this method, so I know it works.

By the way, prior to our unsmooshing project, those 10,000 authority records would have probably taken me more than 4 months to go through and load, assuming that the resulting shoulder pain from moving my hand back and forth between my mouse and keyboard for each record didn't completely cripple me. I ♥ batch searching.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Done, until next year

I've finally done my taxes - after remembering them, forgetting them, remembering them, forgetting them, guilt-tripping myself about them, stressing about them, etc. Now I just have to get past that portion of my brain that wonders if I did something wrong or didn't do something I should have - I think it's related to the same portion of my brain that thinks I might've left a burner on, every time I leave the house. I have this vision of IRS employees being like the guys with blue latex gloves in Firefly.

Friday, March 12, 2010

GIMP, 1st attempt

I think I'm addicted to GIMP. This was my 1st attempt at using it in years. For the most part, it was easier than I remembered. This was inspired by Library Lovers Day.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Radical Cataloging: Essays at the Front edited by K.R. Roberto

I just realized that I finished this a while back, and I haven't really written about it much. Like any book of essays, some of the essays are better than others. I'm probably not "radical" enough for some of the writers who contributed to this book, but I appreciate that some of them care enough about certain issues (like queer subject access, or the classification of Native American materials) to force the cataloging world to change, however slowly.

I think, for me, the most enjoyable and potentially useful section of the book was part 3, which included essays on innovative cataloging practices. One essay (Michelle Emanuel and Susannah Benedetti's "Browsing Berman, finding Fellini, cataloging Kurosawa: alternative approaches to cataloging foreign language films in academic libraries") would be good for me to consult, if only to get myself in the proper mindset, if we ever decide we need to do a cleanup of our DVD/VHS call numbers and subject headings (or genre headings). I've started trying to formulate and follow a plan for how I construct call numbers for DVDs such as those based on plays or books, but that doesn't take care of previous inconsistencies in practice.

Another good essay I'm going to have to go over again sometime is Wendy Baia's "User-centered serials cataloging," which includes tips for serials cataloging damage control. I don't know that we'd necessarily want to follow all those tips, but I can understand why she thinks they're necessary, and it wouldn't hurt to look through them and at least consider them and figure out what their implications would be for both our users and future serials record maintenance. Or maybe I'll just recommend this essay to Janie - I'm sure she'd like some of the tips.

Although it was short, I enjoyed Robin Fay's "'Why isn't my book on the shelf?' and other mysteries of the library," which was about error reporting. The author's library's catalog has links to an error reporting form at the bottom right of the screen - sometimes users report actual errors in records, and sometimes the "errors" they report are actually indications that the library needs to be clearer about certain things (for instance, the meaning of the word "discharged," letting students know what they need to do if they can't find a book the catalog says is there, etc.).

Jennifer Erica Sweda ("Dr. Strangecataloger: or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the tag") and Dana M. Caudle and Cecilia M. Schmitz ("Drawing reference librarians into the fold") also wrote essays I enjoyed, although, with me anyway, they were preaching to the choir. Personally, I love the idea of user applied tags (in conjuction with the continued application of LCSH by catalogers, which I'm a little worried about the future of, after reading Thomas Mann's "What is going on at the Library of Congress?"), and getting input from reference librarians on how to improve the catalog seems like a no-brainer to me.

I'm going to have to take a closer look at Dana M. Caudle and Cecilia M. Schmitz's "MARC: it's not just for cataloging anymore," although I think some of what they describe in their essay is stuff we accomplish with ItemCat1 and ItemCat2 in our item records. However, I love their description how their library maintains its lists of electronic databases - using information drawn from the MARC records in their catalog, Perl scripts generate updating A-Z and subject-specific lists. Database cataloging might seem a bit less like slogging through thigh-high mud if I knew that the information I was inputting might end up being used as more than just a bandaid for confused students. I keep putting my database cataloging off in favor of other things.

An essay I was particularly looking forward to reading was Carrie Preston's "High-speed cataloging without sacrificing subject access or authority control: a case study." I already do some of the things Preston mentions, like making use of macros (although I really need to figure out how to create a macro that strings together several macros, so I don't have to run each one separately). Some of what Preston writes is a little more painful, like choosing not to enter certain information that is considered optional. One thing I've incorporated into my current regular cataloging is the elimination of bibliography pagination - I still check it if it's already in the record, but I don't add it if it isn't, and probably no one will ever miss it. I consider table of contents notes or summary notes to be more worth my time than bibliography pagination, and, using a combination of copy and paste and several nifty macros, I can create summary and contents notes more quickly than I used to be able to. One thing I incorporated into my cataloging of our databases was sitting down and figuring out which fields absolutely need to be there, which fields need to be checked if present but don't need to be added if they aren't, and which fields don't even need to be checked. Having a set list of things I need to pay attention to has helped speed things up a bit (when I actually choose to work on the project, which I've been really bad about).

The thing about all "radical" cataloging decisions is that they need to be applied consistently. If a cataloger decides, for the good of his or her library's users, to do something differently from what the rules say and what other catalogers do, that's fine, but those decisions need to be documented for future catalogers.

One thing I think also needs to be taken into consideration is whether or not the benefits of any local changes to the rules outweigh the drawbacks. For instance, Brian R. Thompson's "Monographic collections structure and layout revisions: or, how to tweak LC call numbers for the good of your users" details how his library came up with an implemented a huge reclassification project that tweaked LC call numbers so that books were grouped together in a more user-friendly way. This sounds great (and exhausting to do), but it also means that this library may never again be able to use call numbers in records they import as they are - in order to keep their clean, user-friendly arrangement, they might need to tweak the call number of each book they have to catalog. That works fine if you've got enough catalogers, or at least enough people trained in assigning call numbers that follow local practices, or if catalogers don't need to catalog much, but otherwise it's potentially a nightmare. Currently, however problematic LC's assignment of call numbers sometimes happens to be, I accept almost all LC-assigned call numbers without question. I can't imagine having to at least look at, if not tweak, each call number I encounter. Cataloging takes long enough as it is.

Overall, this book was pretty interesting, and some of the essays would probably even be readable by noncatalogers (it should be noted that not all of the essay authors are catalogers). However, catalogers in particular should be able to get something useful out of this, even if only a different way of thinking.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Pet store!

After getting my teeth scraped and polished by the dentist, I went to Granbury to get some car stuff done - probably unnecessary, but it also works as an excuse for getting out of Stephenville. My vet told me that she got her family's rat at a pet store in Granbury, so I decided to try finding it. It's got tons of supplies and accessories, even the cardboard tubes that are the perfect size for Bear to curl up in. The place does, indeed, have rats, but they're intended to be feeder rats - they're sorted into cages marked "small," "medium," and "large." They're probably never handled, and they're not necessarily very healthy. Still, the "small" rats might be young enough to become sweet pets. I loved looking at them - their feet were almost as big as their heads!

No, I'm not considering getting more rats anytime in the near future, I'm just looking into my options. I figure that, when Bear's gone, I'll be petless for a while. Short rat lifespans are so tough to deal with. After my last pair of rats, I swore I'd never get any more, and a few years later I ended up with Bear and Yuki when the pet store my mom shops at had an accidental rat litter. I'd prefer to get my next rats the same way, or from a breeder, but that might not be possible. Well, you never know.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Status of the "unsmooshing project" - Finished!

As of 12:36 PM today, I loaded what I think are the last of the records with "smooshed" headings and fields. I say "I think" because 1) it turns out there were a few stragglers I almost missed because mine and Tracy's method of extracting them by call number didn't catch them (invalid call numbers? strange Sudoc numbers? I saved the records and plan on checking or sending a student to check) and 2) it's possible that there are records with smooshed fields that don't fit the criteria we set up when we extracted them.

Even if we missed some, we still managed to touch and fix an amazing number of records in slightly less than two weeks, and almost 24,000 access points that were previously unusable for anything other than keyword searching are now usable as actual headings (i.e., they will now display correctly in browse searches, you have a reasonable chance of finding more items with the same heading when you click on them, etc.). Nice.

My next step will be to start running all kinds of maintenance reports, now that they won't be cluttered up with all of that smooshed junk.