Library Gazette

During July 2012...

Improving the Format Facet in the Catalog

Saturday, July 28, 2012 11:33 am

by Kevin Gilbertson and Carolyn McCallum

Earlier this year, Carolyn and I embarked on an ambitious project to revise VuFind’s format facet. This facet – Book, eBook, DVD, etc. – powers the main search box on the library’s homepage and provides enhanced browsing in the catalog itself. While the immediate reason for the project was a request to identify streaming videos in the catalog, the need for a significant revision and the awareness of its importance had been growing for some time. That is, with the increasing number of electronic materials we were adding to the catalog, it was clear that the then-current format mappings were limited, often inconsistent, and wholly ignorant of the nuances in new format designations.

To resolve VuFind’s format mapping issues, we delved into learning about MARC’s fixed-field elements and the 007 field (physical characteristics of non-print items). The coding of fixed-field elements and of the variable 007 field in a MARC record are critical to how VuFind determines an item’s format. Based on our view of these MARC codings, we adjusted VuFind’s mapping algorithm, re-indexed the catalog several times, and reviewed our changes in a test version of VuFind.

As we worked, we came across many unexpected format assignments. For example, during one of these reviews, we noticed the inclusion of a university press book in the ‘GovDoc’ facet. After inspecting the coding, we discovered that state university press publications are coded as government publications in MARC records (the fixed-field GPub element) and therefore map to the govdoc facet in VuFind. According to OCLC’s Bibliographic Formats and Standards, libraries are to “treat an item published by an academic institution as a government publication if the government created or controls the institution. For example, publications of state university presses in the United States are government publications at the state level.” While our mapping was technically correct, we thought most users would expect to find a book published by a university press under ‘Book’ and not under ‘Government Document’. As we encountered these unexpected results, we reviewed the MARC codings and made adjustments to VuFind’s mapping algorithm.

Another example of what we addressed was the ‘Electronic’ facet. When we began our project, the catalog showed 615,320 items as ‘Electronic’. While this facet may have been accurate given an item’s coding, in use it was problematic because it lacked adequate differentiation and served to hide items, not handled elsewhere in the assignment process, in its indiscriminate muddle. So, while some ebooks were ‘ebooks’, others were simply (and only) ‘electronic’. In our last test version, we had reduced the electronic facet to just 569 items. Where did the other 614,751 items go? The bulk of these items went to the ‘eBook‘ facet – 23,267 ebooks became 487,633 ebooks – and over 2,000 items were added to the ‘Streaming Video‘ facet. The remaining items were distributed in other new electronic format facets, including Streaming Audio, eGovDocs, and eJournals.

We pushed our changes into production in March and have been watching to see how they have performed during the past few months. It was not easy work and you may continue to see items with questionable formats. There are limits to what we can achieve with the format mapping algorithm based on the MARC codings we have.

With the recent OCLC reclamation project and the authority control work, there is a healthy confluence of effort to improve our data and its representation in the catalog and we wanted to share a before-and-after view of our improvements. If you see areas that need further improvement, please let us know.

ZSR Zone finishes the Biggest Winner (Summer Olympics)!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 5:08 pm


The ZSR Zone (formerly the Zephyrs) competed in another Biggest Winner (formerly Summer Olympics) and had a wonderful time! This year’s team was a hybrid Library and Bridge team made up of Felicia Bottoni, Anna Dulin, Tony Johnson, Molly Keener, Rebecca Petersen, and Rachel Weaver. Only one member had participated before so the team was unaware of what exactly they were getting into. Competitions included old favorites like bowling, inner-tube water polo, table tennis, and a field day. The majority of the points earned, however, were entirely based on the individual in an effort to reduce each person’s body mass index.

The Zone performed admirably, achieving a team BMI reduction of 10%!!! One individual went down 8%, but it is a team secret. The best parts about competing this year was to get away from our desks, to enjoy team work with members of ZSR we rarely work with, to meet new members of the WFU community, and to show ZSR’s spirit of competition and camaraderie. Thanks to the Zone, it was a great time.

Creative Writing Adventure Draws Students to Campus

Thursday, July 12, 2012 3:03 pm

This morning I had the pleasure of giving a library tour to 15 students who are participating in the Great American Writers’ Camp for grades 5-8. This is my second year working with Catherine Coelho (’10, MA ’12). Unfortunately, this year they did not have as much open time as they did last year so I was not able to do a hands-on activity with them. Catherine suggested a brief walking tour (15-20 minutes) of ZSR that would highlight some of the fun history of the library.

During the tour, I asked students questions about Wake Forest. When I asked the group when Wake Forest was founded, one young man replied “1834.” The other students were very impressed with his answer. As we walked through the building, I shared some interesting facts and statistics with our young visitors. For example, I mentioned the number of staff in the library in 1946. Students were amazed that only five staff and eight student assistants were employed. When asked how many students the library employs today, one young man said “a bunch.” When I mentioned that over 200 students are employed, several of our young visitors exclaimed “wow.”

I knew that time was limited so I set up three computers in Government Documents to demonstrate the wide variety of our electronic resources. The first computer showed the front cover of an electronic government document entitled Project Apollo the Tough Decisions. The second computer projected an image of two dinosaurs from a journal in our K-12 database from EBSCO. The third computer showed the search results for a search for Louisa M. Alcott in the ProQuest Historical Newspapers database.

The last stop on the tour was the Reference Department where I showed them a digitized copy of the first issue of the Old Gold and Black. When I asked the students if they had a student newspaper, a young girl commented that her school did.

The walking tour really impressed our young visitors. When we went down to level one on the Reynolds side, several students remarked that it was “scary.” They really enjoyed the view of the atrium from level six. During the tour, I tried to cram in as much history as I could about ZSR. I hope they left with some good stories and interesting ZSR facts to share with their friends.

Summer Art in ZSR

Thursday, July 12, 2012 8:51 am

Each summer, the Asolare Art Foundation, led by WFU Piano Tuner and Technician, John Chapman, adds a wonderful twist on the text-heavy exhibits of the academic year. When this happens, a breath of fresh air arrives and enlightens our visitors with unique and locally-grown images. This summer is no different as we welcome the art of Darren Gray Young, a Winston-Salem native. Darren’s art is partially derived from his love of comic books and graphic design.

The Asolare Art Foundation has mounted art exhibits since 1995 across North Carolina, as well as at Lincoln Center in NYC and in Macedonia. Asolare also hosts artist residencies at their site near Salisbury. Please take time to see this art exhibit at the library entrance.

Painting by Darren Gray Young

Painting by Darren Gray Young

Painting by Darren Gray Young

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