Thursday, February 17, 2011

Social Bookmarking and Subject Cataloguing

This week we are looking at  subject cataloguing in libraries and the emergence of  folksonomy for web-based resources.  When searching for any library resource having concise keywords or subject terms are crucial to getting what you want and need.  When we catalogue books, good library practice dictates that we don't just use terms that appeal to ourselves.  A standardized set of subject terminology allows for more consistent cataloguing of books and increases the likelihood that patrons will be able to retrieve all applicable resources available in a library collection;  provided they can identify and apply an approved term.

The Sears List of Subject Headings is the the most common resource used by teacher-librarians to provide subject headings for library items. The practice until recently has been to use one to two subject headings for most nonfiction items and not necessarily any subject heading for fiction items.  With the advent of electronic catalogues and electronic search features this restriction is no longer necessary and perhaps even less desirable or acceptable practice. We have the capacity to give patrons a wider variety of access points to an item.  Libraries also exist in a new context where patrons are conditioned to be less thoughtful in the search terms they use. The Google generation uses any term that comes to mind and more often than not have some sort of success in retrieving relevant information from the web. Whether this is be best and most relevant information is not often a consideration. This is a culture or reality I think librarians and cataloguers need to acknowledge.

Library collections exist in the larger  context of the Internet-based resources.  Recently, the phenomena on the web is to catagorize resources using tags. As people identify useful resources on the Internet the use of browser-based bookmarking has become somewhat unwieldly.  We often use multiple computers so we want these resources to be consistently available.  Social bookmarking sites have become the solution.  Bookmarks can now be web-based and be available on any computer.  In addition, social bookmarking sites have addressed the inadequacy of sorting bookmarks under single subject headings (our equivalent of folders in our browser-based bookmarks or favourites) by the advent of tagging.  Users can attach any number of subject terms of their own choosing or invention to facilitate their retrieval and recollection at some future date. 

The practice of developing personal cataloguing systems of subject headings or descriptors is called folksonomy.  This practice has its drawbacks.  When using nonstandardized terms it may require the searcher to use a great variety of terms to locate sufficient resources on a particular resource. Do you use the word cat, cats, kittens, or felines to find the information you desire?  The use of more standardized terms in the social bookmarking context would seem to be beneficial to all, but the capacity to use a great number of tags is useful since it gives these resources a wide range of access points.  A challenge is when the tags are too general then they lose their usefulness and too specialized or specific as to be irrelevant or inaccessible by most searchers. I believe a technological solution may be possible to some of the downside of folksonomy. The development of search algorithms that will generate and match sophisticated lists of synonyms for tags that also filter for specificity seems within the capacity of even today's technology.

I believe the phenomena of the increasing practice of folksonomy will create tremendous pressure to expand and change library cataloguing practice and technology.  Today's library patrons are keyword searchers.  They are used to web searches which use algorithms that search the entire text of websites. Such searching allows users to utilize terms that are personally relevant and doesn't require much reflection or education as to approved subject terms. The pressure is already on for our library collections to provide full electronic texts for most items in their collection.  Full electronic texts opens the possibility of using search engine type algorithms as a point of access to library items. These access points could be used in addition to librarian provided subject cataloguing.  Perhaps library catalogues will be opened to folksonomists at large.  We already have OPACs that allow patrons to append their own personal reviews of the resources.  Technologically it would be fairly easy to add the ability for patrons to add their own tags to these items and allow such searching of collections by tags.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cataloguing: Making my own MARC record

This week's assignment is to learn the Tags, Indicators and Subfield codes of the MARC record and try to catalog a book independently and then check it against a MARC record developed either by the Library of Congress or from AMICUS our Canadian national catalogue.  During this assignment I registered with AMICUS so as to be access their free MARC records.  My library catalogue system automatically links with AMICUS and a number of other library catalogues in Canada when searching for MARC records for items that have not yet been added to our union catalogue.

My first attempt was for a newly purchased book by Sean Cassidy entitled Kazaak!.  There was a record in our union catalogue but is was incomplete and what was there was formatted in all capitals and looked questionable. This is what I was able to generate on a first try:

020 ## $a 9781554551170

100 1# $a Cassidy, Sean
            $d 1947
245 1# $a Kazaak
260 ## $a Markham, Ontario :
            $b Fitzhenry & Whiteside
            $c 2010
300 ## $a 30 p. :
            $b ill. ;
            $c 21 x 27 cm.

This was the very basic information.  This doesn't give anything in regards to subject or other notes.  When I looked up this record on AMICUS they had added one more tag as follows:

500 ## $a "A tell-me-more! story book"--Cover
This general note tag where variations in the title can be noted.  On the cover is a circular icon with a picture of a porcupine on it and the A Tell-Me-More! Storybook title on it.  It seems this book is one of number of books using a similar format.  It is not really a series though.

Now that I look inside the front cover of the book for a little more help in creating a summary note for tag 520.  I am curious to know what sources cataloguers use for such summary notes or are they all original creations.  Where does plagiarism start and end with these summaries? Can you just take the information of the back cover?

520 ## $a Spike is just learning about his new quills from his friend Rupert, but when Rupert gets into trouble with Bear, Spike must use his imagination and his won quills to save him.

For the subject tag I am not very clear on what subfield codes to be using and the whole part of using $2 if you are using a Sears subject listing. 

650 ## $a Porcupine

Here is my MARC record as complete as I can get for now:

020 ## $a 9781554551170
100 1# $a Cassidy, Sean
            $d 1947
245 1# $a Kazaak
260 ## $a Markham, Ontario :
            $b Fitzhenry & Whiteside
            $c 2010
300 ## $a 30 p. :
            $b ill. ;
            $c 21 x 27 cm.
500 ## $a "A tell-me-more! story book"--Cover
520 ## $a Spike is just learning about his new quills from his friend Rupert, but when Rupert gets into trouble with Bear, Spike must use his imagination and his won quills to save him.
650 10 $a Porupine

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Comparing the Library Catalog Record to the Item in Hand

This week's assignment is to examine five items from my library collection with the record found in Integrated Library System.  The purpose of this exercise is to see how the areas of description from the International Standard Bibliographic Description (ISBD) have or have not been followed or completed for the item in hand.  It also gives pause as to whether the information is sufficient to meet the needs of patrons.  Do the eight areas of description inform the patron to a sufficient degree that the catalog matches the item they are seeking?

The first two items I looked at happen to be books I had pulled for an author/illustrator unit for my grade ones.  In addition to examining authors we have been exploring the importance of remembering author names so as to be able to quickly go to the stacks and retrieve their favourite stories (area 1 information).  Later when they are capable of looking in the catalog they will see a big discrepancy in how these first two items display and this would easily make them favour one book over the other.

Frederick's Fables: A Treasury of 16 Favorite Leo Lionni Stories

The record is complete for all 8 areas of description.  Most importantly the title is complete--it includes the important subtitle "A treasury of 16 favorite Leo Lionni stories."  It also includes vital notes that the item includes an introduction by the author and names three of the most famous of Lionni's stories included in the treasury.  In fact later in the description it names all the stories in the treasury. All edition information is accurate including the fact that it is revised edition.  In terms of physical description it was useful to know the size of the book.  It is 29 cm which makes it a good choice for a read aloud where children can see the pictures as a group. There is also a picture of the book cover.

My record includes many other additional notes including awards, interest grade level, and reading grade level.  Attached to the record is a link to a subscription service called Title Peek.  This provides additional review information about the book and some background of the author.

Leo Lionni Favorites: Six Classic Stories

This item had:
area 1 --Title and Statement of Information (Author)
area 2 --edition
area 3--Material
area 4--publication
area 5--physical description
area 7--notes
area 8--standard numbers

Even though this item did have all the basics it was the enriched notes and description that were missing that made the item seem far inferior to the first Lionni book I looked at. There was no book picture and no summary.  There was also no link to Title Peek.  The stark difference in the amount of text and empty summary field that visually made the record easy to dismiss. If we were to look at this record and the above record purely in MARC format the difference would be far from dramatic. It appears that the use of area 7 notes and other non standard enhanced physical description can have a huge impact on patrons.

Leonardo da Vinci [video recording]

I have just recently begun updating my video collection.  There is quite a difference in cataloguing quality.  This title is perhaps one of the better catalogued items.  It has all ISBD areas covered-at least to a minimal degree. An interesting bit of data that was put in as area 7 information is who did the animation of the 30 minute DVD.  I am not sure if this should be area 1 information and if so how such information is entered. Is it the same as listing an illustrator for a book?  Since the item in hand is located in our Learning Resources Audio Visual collection it is not easily accessed.  This increases the importance of additional notes describing the content. The information that is there is a summary that sounds more like an advertisement: "Explore the brilliance of of Leonardo da Vinci, whom was a master painter and inventor." The description that is found on the back of the DVD would have been a little more informative

Once again there is not picture of the DVD cover but it does indicate the length of the DVD.

The Night Before Christmas [ebook] by Clement C. Moore

I have a few e-books in my collection mostly because I could get them for free.  These are books that can be viewed on the computer but are not talking books that you can take out an play on an ipod type device. The description just says ebook but it provides not information on what the requirements are required for reading the ebook, as in is there a particular plugin or application required for reading the book. All the other basic areas covered.

Cowboys and Coffin Makers: One Hundred 19th-Century Jobs You Might Have Feared and Fancied by Laurie Coulter

This is a non-fiction book.  What is interesting in how the area 1 information is presented.  It does not say illustrations but rather says art is by Martha Newbigging.  This makes me ask more about the nature of the graphics in this book.  The summary reads: A guide to 100 career opitons in 19th century America featuring a timeline of the 1800s and humorous illustrations.  Should the word artist or illustrator be used for Martha Newbigging?  Where did the term art or illustration come from? Looking at the book in hand one would say illustrator would have been a better term to use.

It is interesting to see how the records in the library collection can have a huge impact on how a patron will perceive and judge the resource before they even have the item in hand.  As librarians we have always been worried about judging a book by its cover now it seems we may have to be as worried by patrons judging books by their electronic record.