Professional Development

In the 'cataloging' Category...

Charleston Conference 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014 3:09 pm

Contents: 1. short tidbits (e.g. Alma from Ex Libris, “screen reading” effects, take care in using downloads as a measure, shared print storage) and 2. the rising cost of e-book short-term loans with a DDA program

1. the short bits

Alma – was the commercial ILS that I heard mentioned repeatedly, often in the context of migrations. At a poster session, I spoke with a librarian from the University of Tennessee Libraries about their migrating order records to Alma (from Aleph) and the next day I spoke with a librarian from another state about migration to Alma. I came away with the impression that both were satisfied so far. I heard other librarians mention Alma as the ILS of interest or having recently selected it.

Steve Shadle – “How Libraries Use Publisher Metadata” Steve worked with Springer on metadata and realized other publishers could use the same kind of understanding. Publishers at the presentation were engaged and asking questions. (I say, “hooray!”)

Carol Tenopir – “To Boldly Go Beyond Downloads” reported from research with focus groups and interviews that downloads are on the decline and “be careful about using it as a measure.” The survey just went out, so keep an eye out for later reports from that part of the research.

David Durant (ECU) and Tony Horava (University of Ottawa) - “Future of Reading and Academic Library” The presenters referenced Jakob Neilson’s F shaped pattern (of eye tracking) and explained linear and tabular reading and how they affect learning. Their research includes the differences between “screen reading” and reading from print. Look for their article in the January 2015 issue of Portal.

Emory and Georgia Tech’s shared print repository, Emtech, was helped along by support from the presidents at both universities and the prior establishment of a 501-3c to support other initiatives. (I asked because I had wondered how a private/public partnership for something long-term like this could work.) They determined that they had only 17% overlap in collections and each library is putting 1 million volumes into the shared facility — serials from Tech and monographs from Emory. They are storing microforms there; with the Atlanta climate, a cooler will have to be used when pulling those from facility, so that they gradually warm up from the 50 degrees without moisture forming on them. It will be one unified collection and they are contemplating whether they will need a separate OCLC holding symbol. This will be Harvard style — with static, not mobile, shelving.

Jeff already reported on plenaries and one session that he and I both attended,plus DDA with Kanopy streaming video, and included some lovely photos.

 

2. increasing cost of short-term loans (STLs):

Summary: All parties, publishers, librarians and aggregators are adopting a “let’s work together” attitude and showing understanding that workable pricing models are yet to be figured out with e-books because monographs are different from journals; everyone is inclined towards keeping DDA rather than eliminating it. The consortia named below who facilitated a lively lunch all pulled DDA records from their catalogs but I learned in a sidebar conversation that a large consortium removed only the EBL DDA records for the same titles in ebrary Academic Complete (generally considered to be primarily a backlist) and made no other changes. We’re implementing this change, literally as I’m writing this, since we just got the subscription product through NC LIVE. (See also Carol’s report.)

Details on STLS: Following up on this summer’s announcement that a number of publishers were raising the prices of STLs, I asked Derrik to do some analysis of our own experience prior to the conference. The bottom line on his analysis is that the rise in cost is affecting our bottom line noticeably. I managed to get to a lively lunch session with a mix of publishers, librarians, and aggregators in the audience. Facilitators included a representative from: Connecticut-Trinity-Wesleyan (CTW Consortium); Colby-Bates-Bowdoin Consortium; Tri-College Consortium (Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore, Haverford); The Five Colleges Consortium (Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst) The lively lunch facilitators asked specific questions and my take-aways were:

  • reaffirmation that sales of books (whatever format) are dropping and the volume of STLs isn’t rising to meet the cost of publishing them (not from conference, but see this explanation of the cost of publishing an e-book)
  • inconclusive discussion on setting an optimal dollar amount or percentage of list price (I went to the mic and commented that setting a percentage was a questionable strategy with some publishers now raising the list price for electronic to be more than print; note that the e-book was not always, but often, close to hardcover price until recently)
  • in general an embargo was undesirable from all perspectives
  • differentiated pricing on frontlist versus backlist could be considered (I wonder if this wouldn’t add undesirable complexity and there might be a better solution)

Also on the STL crisis topic, Carol and I both were at a session titled, Sustainability not Profitability: the Future of Scholarly Monographs and STL.” Carol’s coverage, also linked above, differs slightly from mine (and is brief).

  • Barbara Kawecki from YBP gave the landscape of library activity to start the session: from 1998 to now there has been a dramatic decline in print purchasing. A loss of 50,000 units to a publisher is significant. YBP has seen a dramatic increase in records sent for DDA but only tiny amount is purchased and a large percentage of spending is on STL.
  • Rebecca Seger of Oxford University Press then gave an overview of the cost of monograph publishing and stated that the real problem is shrinking monograph budget (which I heard multiple times at the conference). She explained that with journals publishers can estimate revenue because of subscriptions, but publishers have used the print approval plans of libraries historically to estimate revenue for monographs. Each title might sell 400-700 “units” for the lifetime. Publishers can’t sell that amount now and can’t estimate revenue based on approval plans anymore because of all the changes libraries are making relative to DDA/STL. It costs about $10,000 to publish a monograph and printing is only about a third of that cost (or more for a smaller publisher).
  • Lisa Nachtigall from Wiley also described the impact of DDA/STL:

2009 to now: 92% print to 77% print
3rd party sales of e big increase: now 7%
32% less revenue from top 100 titles from 2009 to now; 28% less if take out the top 5 performers
70% of all etransactions from DDA/STL
Only 32% of DDA records went to transaction and 82% of that are STLs
86% less revenue on the e

Lisa is in the editorial part of Wiley and says that because of all of this Wiley is exiting Physics altogether, getting out of higher level research areas and will focus on textbooks. She noted that faculty will not able to disseminate their research in the same ways.

  • Michael Levine-Clark (a frequent speaker on e-books and Associate Dean for Scholarly Communication and Collections Services at the University of Denver) counseled the audience for librarians and publishers to work together on this problem, which was also the attitude at the lively lunch I described above. He said he was willing to pay more for the titles that get used. Various pricing models are needed together right now. He is concerned about the level of risk — future access to the titles not purchased — but he noted that the budget doesn’t allow him to buy all of those titles now anyway. He had a lot of analytical graphs in his presentation, which may be found near the end of the entire presentation. He wondered about having a fee for DDA service to publishers and YBP as part of the solution (but several audience members noted that all libraries already pay a small fee to YBP for the service of managing the bibliographic records). He concluded that we need to pony up to keep all books available for long term. During Q&A with the audience, it came up that if part of the change to using STL includes charges for browses, then it may not work. There was agreement from the audience that we have to work with publishers to keep DDA. The concept of an annual fee, “pay to play,” was raised again.

This was a particularly good conference in terms of content and consistently nice weather.

Steve at 2014 ALA Annual

Monday, July 7, 2014 1:32 pm

As with the past few conferences, my experience at the 2014 ALA Annual conference was dominated by work on ALCTS committees. As such, most of the stuff I did was pretty deep in the cataloging weeds, so I’ll try to pick out the items that might be of interest to a more general audience. Much of my time (4.5 hours one afternoon and a follow-up 3 hours one morning) was devoted to CC:DA (Cataloging Committee: Description and Access), which develops ALA’s position on RDA. Proposals approved by CC:DA are sent up to the JSC (Joint Steering Committee), the international body that is the final arbiter of the content of RDA. We passed a proposal from the Audio-Visual and Music communities that loosens the rules for recording statements of responsibility, which is particularly important for A/V and music catalogers. The current RDA instructions require catalogers to record composers as the primary party responsible for a music recording, which works fine for most classical music, but is terribly confusing for popular music (do you really want to have Jimi Hendrix’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” to be primarily credited to Bob Dylan, or is Hendrix the important name?). We’re hoping that this proposal will be approved by the JSC. CC:DA also got a bit closer to resolving the problem playfully known as “the cascading vortex of horror,” which is a situation where RDA can be interpreted to mean that catalogers are required to record up to four production statements, depending on the information provided on a published item (if there is no publication info, you have to record that there is no publication info, then if there is no distribution info, you have to record that there is no distribution info, then you have to record whether or not there is manufacturing info, then you have to record copyright info). The proposal would say that you only record the info you have, you don’t have to say what you don’t have, other than the publication info. The proposal was not passed, as a new issue was brought up as to whether or not we should even say we don’t have publication info.

My other committee work was on the Continuing Resources Cataloging Committee. We met to discuss the forum we had planned for later in the conference, as well as tossing around ideas for programming at Midwinter. We seem to be gravitating toward the idea of having something on Bibframe to both explain it in terms catalogers can understand and to relate Bibframe specifically to the concerns of continuing resources catalogers. The committee’s forum on Monday afternoon was the last business event I attended at the conference. It covered a lot of continuing resources/serials cataloging stuff that would be of no interest to anybody but me, but there was one bit of info that might be of general interest. Regina Reynolds from the Library of Congress said that the ISSN Center (the international agency that issues International Standard Serials Numbers to serial publications) is working to deal with publishers it deems to be predatory. By predatory they mean fly-by-night publishers who produce sub-standard material with titles and/or logos that are very similar to the titles and logos of highly respected publications, or titles that are otherwise deceptive and designed to cause confusion in the reader. If the ISSN Center deems a title to be predatory, they may revoke the title’s ISSN, making it much harder for the publisher to sell their publication.

Let’s see, what else? I attended a session on Schema.org that confused the heck out of me. I fear that it’s something that I’ll need to have explained to me three of four times before I start to get it (like with FRBR), although I had a follow-up conversation with Lauren Corbett that helped clear some of my confusion. I also talked with a rep from OCLC about their new KnowledgeBase and their Notification service. I’m particularly excited about the Notification service, because if we sign up for it, if a record we have our holdings attached to gets edited in the OCLC database (like say, if the record is upgraded from AACR2 cataloging to RDA cataloging), we would get sent the newly edited version of the record. With the bib records in OCLC changing so quickly these days, this service would be very useful. And it doesn’t cost anything extra, the price is included in our subscription. Now, when I hear a big company say that something doesn’t cost extra, that’s usually when I check to make sure my wallet is still there, but I grilled the guy from OCLC and it seems like it’s for real. Which was certainly nice to hear.

Steve at 2014 ALA Midwinter

Monday, February 10, 2014 5:42 pm

Well, it looks like I’m bringing up the rear on reporting on my experience at the 2014 ALA Midwinter Conference, which is somewhat ironic, because I think I was the first person from ZSR to fly up to Philly. I had to get in town two days earlier than I normally would, so I could attend an all-day meeting of the NASIG Executive Board. NASIG isn’t affiliated with ALA, so we met off the conference grid, at the main library of the University of Pennsylvania. I can’t talk much about what we discussed because much of the material is confidential, but I can say that we discussed plans for our 2015 conference in Washington, D.C. The 2015 conference will feature NASIG’s first joint programming with another organization, namely the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP). It will also be NASIG’s 30th conference, which will require a special celebration. And it’ll be the year that I’m serving as NASIG’s President, so I’ll get to be right in the thick of planning it.

As for ALA Midwinter proper, much of my involvement revolved around committee meetings. My big committee responsibility is CC:DA (Catalog Committee: Description and Access), which develops ALA’s position on RDA. That means that we read and discuss proposed changes to RDA that come in from all sorts of constituencies. It’s been really interesting to see how the process works. I won’t bore you all by describing it in detail here, but I’d be happy to talk about it with anyone who is interested. CC:DA met for 4.5 hours on one day and 3 hours on another day, which is kind of a lot. We voted and an approved a couple of proposals (which will now move up to the Joint Steering Committee, which is the final arbiter of RDA), and had vigorous debate about several other proposals, including one on how to record the duration of recordings and one on a problem that has the colorfully melodramatic nickname “the cascading vortex of horror.” The committee also saw a presentation on the RDA/ONIX Framework, which would radically change how resource content and resource carriers are described. The RDA/ONIX Framework is years away from implementation (consensus needs to be developed among the relevant constituencies), but it promises to enormously facilitate the machine processing of catalog data (including things like natural language searching), by providing a means to record very specific, very granular data. For example, the Framework allows for recording the sensory mode used to access a resource (sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell), the dimensionality of the resource (2-dimensional, 3-dimensional), and the movement of an image (still, moving). That’s just a taste of the level of detail that it would be possible to record if the Framework were adopted. It’s pretty complex and dense stuff, and I know I only grasped a portion of it. On the more practical level, I have volunteered to serve on a CC:DA task force that has been working for a year or two on developing a list of personal relationship designators (things like father-son, teacher-student, etc.) for RDA.

On to other topics, Carolyn has already done an admirable job of recounting the Authority Control Interest Group meeting, so I will mention the Cataloging & Classification Research Interest Group session. We saw a presentation about an interesting project called the ProMusic Database, which is trying to make it easier to track the identity and roles of musicians, which can be tricky when you look at what a person did on a particular record. The example used was Quincy Jones, who is a composer, a performer and a producer. The ProMusic Database makes it easier to figure out what role or roles Quincy played with a given record. It is a joint project that involves the extensive databases of musician unions, music companies, etc. These professional organizations have a great interest in tracking this data, so they can track things like royalty payments to musicians.

I ended my Midwinter by attending the Update Forum of the Continuing Resources Cataloging Committee (which is another committee that I belong to). Much of it was inside baseball that would be of no interest to anyone but me, but one very interesting thing is that the ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) Centers are going to start assigning ISSNs to institutional repositories. So IRs are starting to be thought of as default continuing resources. Go figure.

ALA Midwinter 2014 with Carolyn

Thursday, February 6, 2014 7:35 pm

Unlike last year’s flight out to ALA’s Midwinter meeting, my Friday morning flight to Philadelphia was uneventful, and that plus having Mary Beth as my traveling companion once again was a great thing! On Saturday, I attended ACRL’s Western European Studies Section’s (WESS) because they were sponsoring a romance languages and cataloging issues discussion group. It began with a 45 minute discussion about what RDA means to the non-catalogers of the group and why certain data no longer displays in online catalogs (e.g. |h [GMDs], and publication dates). The conversation next turned to display issues with utilizing Summon in catalogs, and from the statements made, it is apparent that Summon’s performance does not always meet librarians’ expectations (e.g. the language limit function does not always limit properly). One librarian from a university 1 1/2 hours away from WFU piped up and said, “I’m just so tired of being fed the propaganda of Summon.” I chuckled at that one. Following this session, I participated in my committee meeting, the ANSS Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee, where we generated a list of cataloging questions and topics for the upcoming months. Some of the questions and topics included: subject headings for social work; how is the relationship between a person or corporate body now labeled in RDA bibliographic records; what is FRSAD; and subject headings for food deserts and community gardening. In the afternoon, I attended the Catalog Management Interest Group where one individual from Kent State spoke about catalog and display issues with RDA implementation at his library. The removal of the GMD (general material designator) that is found in the subfield h of the 245 field (e.g. [videorecording], [microform]) was problematic for both the librarians and public. After writing a letter to Millenium, their ILS vendor, they eventually decided to display a visual icon by each title in a results list that is based on the type of record that is found in a cataloging record’s leader 06 position and the carrier type term found in RDA’s 338 field. I’ve heard comments from ZSR staff that they miss having the GMD display in a results list, especially when looking for a videorecording. At the Catalog Form and Function Interest Group, a librarian from Stephen F. Austin State University talked about her university’s experience utilizing VuFind and Summon together in their catalog. After performing a search in the library’s catalog, results are displayed split-screen style with books and more on one side and articles and more on the other.

Sunday morning at the Alexander Street Press breakfast, I heard psychologist Dr. Philip Zimbardo speak about his Stanford Prison Experiment which was conducted in 1971 and continues to be one of the most discussed and studied psychological studies today. At the Cataloging and Classification Research Interest Group, a librarian from the University of Central Florida Libraries discussed workflow tips and tricks to add table of contents (TOC) information based on RDA standards to cataloging records. These access points aid record discovery and adds patron value to cataloging records. If one chooses to use publishers’ TOC information on a web site to copy and paste into a record, make sure one compares that to the book in hand. He has found erroneous book chapters listed on the web site that were not listed in the actual book. At the Authority Control Interest Group, Janis Young from the Library of Congress (LC) reported on two big vocabulary developments: LC medium performance terms for music and the LC demographic group terms. The first set of terms is a cooperative effort of the LC and the Subject Access Subcommittee of the Music Library Association. The 802 proposed terms are available on a tentative list, and they will be approved on February 10, 2014. The second set will be used to describe the demographic characteristics of creators and contributors and audiences. New MARC fields 385 and 386 will accommodate audience characteristics and creator/contributor characteristics respectively. These terms will be full faceted and are scheduled for late 2014. My last session of the day was attending the Anthropology Librarians Discussion Group. Dr. Janet Monge of the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Anthropology and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, was our guest speaker. Dr. Monge discussed the Open Research Scan Archive (ORSA) with which she has been involved. With the assistance of the local hospital’s CT lab, the museum has scanned over 5200 human and nonhuman specimens of its collection (e.g. objects, bones, mummies) for use by researchers in anthropology, biology, and medicine.

In addition to all the meetings I attended, I did manage time to squeeze in some fun by attending with colleagues two great receptions, one at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and the other at the National Constitution Center. Mary Beth and I also checked out Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, which came highly recommended by Susan Smith, on Sunday during lunchtime.

 

 

 

Lauren C. at ALA Annual 2013, Chicago

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 8:51 pm

I spent a lot of time talking to vendors about e-books and library systems; saw a cool DVD dispenser by PIKinc.; went to a discussion group on offsite storage; and heard The Myth and the Reality of the Evolving Patron: The RUSA President’s Program with Lee Rainie (Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project).

I agree with Wanda that the logistics for Chicago are not great, but that this was one of my best conferences; when I found that I could not get from one pertinent session to another quickly enough, half of my agenda went to the exhibits. (Freedom from committee obligations for the first time in years probably contributed to time spent with vendors too.)

ZSR and EBL e-books

I made some advance appointments to discuss ZSR business regarding e-books while at ALA and those went well. I attended a closed session on EBL’s different models for e-books with consortia and discovered that a new model is about to be tried out by Novanet and NY3Rs. Present from ASERL and participating in the discussion: John Burger, Executive Director of ASERL; Nancy Gibbs, Duke University; and me. Tom Sanville from Lyrasis was also present. Publishers, vendors and libraries are still trying to find a model that works well for all. In one consortium where not every member participates in the group e-book arrangement, but the consortium has a shared catalog, they were trying to come up with a way to allow the non-participating libraries to have short-term loan access at least and the method for payment is a stumbling block. ILL was mentioned as a way to deal with that, maybe with a credit card payment option since ILL already makes purchases with credit cards. I also attended a presentation by David Whitehair from OCLC and a representative from VIVA about OCLC Worldshare Metadata Collection Manager. This is what EBL is going to use for managing DDA files of adds/updates/deletes so I was glad to gain a better understanding. (I wondered if this tool would help Carolyn with the Archivist’s Toolkit cataloging since OCLC said that records don’t have to be in MARC — the institutional knowledge base (kb) can handle Dublin Core and MODS as well.) This is included with our cataloging subscription, so no extra cost for us to implement the kb.

WorldShare Metadata Collection Manager allows you to define and configure your e-book and other electronic collections in one place, and automatically receive initial and updated customized WorldCat MARC records for all e-titles from one source, providing your users access to the titles and content from within the local library catalog or other discovery interface.

Library Systems: Kuali, Ex Libris, OCLC

I had a real awakening on the rapid changes with the commercial ILS vendors. I’ve been following Kuali OLE developments and was disappointed to learn in a session that they are still working towards release 1.0. Jim Mouw announced that University of Chicago (a development partner) will cut completely over to OLE in July of 2014, so they are getting closer. Between now and then, Chicago will also switch from Aquabrowser to VuFind.

The University of Windsor is switching from Evergreen (an open source ILS that many public libraries adopted) to Alma, the next-generation system from Ex Libris. At the Ex Libris booth, I got a custom demo and peppered them with a lot of questions. Then I went to the OCLC booth and did the same thing. I heard a lot of similarities in the way those two systems are supposed to operate and here are two key pieces:

  • no more logging in to different modules — you log into the system once and what you’re allowed to interact with is based on the permissions that have been set
  • pushing and pulling big batches of data and updates to data is facilitated through lots of APIs

The real question is how well they will work in the variety of library environments. For instance, a salesman told me that MARCedit would be unnecessary and demonstrated how to edit the 856|z, but upon questioning, he thought it was record by record, not global editing for a batch. Case in point, right? OCLC has just over 100 libraries using their product right now with a couple hundred more signed (according to our sales rep) and Ex Libris is not far behind in gaining contracts for Alma. I think the next couple of years of library migrations will expose the weaknesses and result in upgrades to better fit real world practices. Meanwhile OLE and Intota from Proquest will need to be pushing hard to catch up and prove why they might be better in the long run.

Library Storage Discussion Group (LLAMA)

The main thing I learned that may be useful to us is that if you weed from an offsite storage facility, even if you have AIMS, “you have to re-tray” because trying to fill the hole later doesn’t work well. I saw colleagues from Georgia and learned that Emory and Georgia Tech are moving to a joint storage facility. (This type of private/public cooperation was only a dream when I left Emory and it is cool to learn that it really is going to happen, 5 years later.) I had the opportunity to explain about the role of the storage facility for the ASERL journal retention program, now branded Scholar’s Trust. (BTW, Carol Cramer helped with the naming process.)

The Myth and the Reality of the Evolving Patron: The RUSA President’s Program with Lee Rainie

Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project,shared some interesting highlights from surveying about public libraries and while the link to the recording is above, you can login to ALA Connect for the slides which he said would also be posted to Pew.org eventually. These are my highlights from his talk:

  • Public library patrons are people who like the old services and don’t want changes and people who love the new, both — so libraries and other companies are dealing with the pain of not being able to do everything and are not able to meet all desires.
  • Parents are the best public library lovers — everything is wonderful.
  • Of those who seek the help of librarian, half are in households with an income of under $30,000 and are African American.
  • Young people appreciate a quiet place to sit and study or listen to music.
  • Only 13% use the library’s website.
  • Scarcity and abundance flipped: Time is the new scarcity, not the info. There is a gap between being predisposed to be affectionate and being affectionate — save the patrons’ time and they will love the library. Online learning and online reference are desirable.

Last Hurrah

I rarely have found time at conferences to do much touring and have always wished to see “the Bean” (a sculpture really called Cloud Gate) at Millennium Park. When I learned on Monday that it was only 2 blocks from the restaurant where I was having lunch, I decided to see it, even if it meant I was a little close for comfort in getting to the airport.

Leslie at MLA 2013

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 7:48 pm

A welcome escape from the usual wintry rigors of traveling to a Music Library Association conference — mid-February this year found us in San Jose, soaking up sun, balmy breezes, and temps in the 70s. (Colleagues battered by the Midwest blizzards were especially appreciative.)

THE FUTURE OF SUBJECT COLLECTIONS
This was the title of a plenary session which yielded a number of high-level insights. For one, it was the first time I had heard the term “disintermediation” to describe the phenomenon of librarians being displaced by Google et al as the first place people go for information.

Henriette Hemmasi of Brown U analogized the MOOCs trend as “Diva to DJ”: that is, the role of the instructor is shifting from lone classroom diva to the collaborative role played by a disc jockey — selecting and presenting material for team-produced courses, working with experts in web development, video, etc. Her conclusion: 21st-century competencies must include not just knowledge, but also synthesizing and systems-thinking skills.

David Fenske, one of the founding developers of Indiana’s Ischool, noted that the rapid evolution of technology has rendered it impossible to make projections more than 5 or 10 years out (his reply to a boss who asked for a 20-year vision statement: “A 20-year vision can’t be done without drugs!”). He also observed that digital preservation is in many ways more difficult than the traditional kind: the scientific community is beginning to lose the ability to replicate experiments, because in many cases the raw data has been lost due to obsolete digital storage media. Fenske envisions the “library as socio-technical system” — a system based on user demographics, designed around “communities of thought leaders” as well as experts. Tech-services people have long mooted the concept of “good-enough” cataloging, in the face of overwhelming publication output; public-services librarians, in Fenske’s view, should start talking about the “good-enough” answer. Fenske wants to look “beyond metadata”: how can we leverage our metadata for analytics? semantic tools? How can we scale our answers and services to compete with Google, Amazon, and others?

PERFORMERS’ NEEDS
Some interesting findings from two studies on the library needs of performing faculty and students (as opposed to musicologists and other researchers in the historical/theoretical branches of the discipline):

One study addressed the pros and cons of e-scores. Performers, always on the go and pressed for time, like e-scores for their instant availability and sharability; the fact that they’re quick and easy to print out; their portability (no more cramming a paper score into an instrument case for travel); easy page turns during performance (a pedal mechanism has been devised for this). Performers also like an e-score that can be annotated (i.e., not a PDF file) so they can insert their notes for performance; and the ability to get a lot of works quickly from one place (as from an online aggregator). On the other hand, academic users, who work with scholarly and critical editions, like the ability of the online versions to seamlessly integrate critical commentary with the musical text (print editions traditionally place the commentary in separate supplementary volumes). Third-party software can also be deployed to manipulate the musical text for analysis. But the limitations of the computer screen continue to pose viewability problems for purposes of analysis. Academic users regard e-scores as a compliment to, not an alternative to, print scores.

Another study interviewed performing faculty to find out how they use their library’s online catalog. Typically, they come to the library wanting to find known items, use an advanced-search mode, and search by author, title, and opus number (the latter not very effectively handled by many discovery layers; VuFind does a reasonably good job). Performing faculty often are also looking for specific editions and/or publishers (aspects that many discovery interfaces don’t offer as search limits/facets). Performing faculty (and students) study a work by using a score to follow along with a sound recording, so come to the library hoping to obtain multiple formats for the same work — icons or other aids for quickly identifying physical format are important to them, as for film users and others. There is also a lot of descriptive detail that performers need to see in a catalog display: contents, duration, performers’ names.

Stuff a lot of music librarians have observed or suspected, but good to see it quantified and confirmed in some formal studies.

COLLABORATIVE COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT
This is a topic that has generated much interest in the library community, and music librarians have also been exploring collaborative options for acquiring the specialized materials of their field. Besides shared approval-plan profiles for books, and shared database subscriptions, music librarians have divvied up the collecting of composers’ collected editions, and contemporary composers whose works they want to collect comprehensively. Because music materials are often acquired and housed in multiple locations on the same campus, internal collaboration is as important as external. One thing that does not seem to lend itself to collaborative collection: media (sound recordings and videos). Many libraries don’t lend these out via ILL, and faculty tend to want specific performances — making on-request firm orders a more suitable solution. One consortium of small Maine colleges (Colby, Bates, and Bowdoin) divided the processing labor of their staffs by setting up rotating shipments for their shared approval plan: one library gets this month’s shipment of books, another library receives the next month’s shipment, and so on.

DDA
There was a good bit of discussion concerning demand-driven e-book acquisitions among colleagues whose institutions had recently implemented DDA services. On two separate occasions, attendees raised the question of DDA’s impact on the humanities, given those disciplines’ traditional reliance on browsing the stacks as a discovery method.

RDA
It was a very busy conference for music catalogers, as over a hundred of us convened to get prepared for RDA. There was a full-day workshop; a cataloging “hot topics” session; a town-hall meeting with the Bibliographic Control Committee, which recently produced a “RDA Best Practices for Cataloging Music” document; and a plenary session on RDA’s impact across library services (the latter reprising a lot of material covered by Steve and others in ZSR presentations — stay tuned for more!)

SIDELIGHTS
A very special experience was a visit to the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies (located on the San Jose State campus), the largest collection of Beethoveniana outside Europe. During a reception there, we got to play pianos dating from Beethoven’s time. Hearing the “Moonlight Sonata” up close on the model of instrument he wrote it for (Dulcken, a Flemish maker) was a true revelation.

Leslie at NCLA 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011 2:50 pm

It was really nice to be able to attend an NCLA conference again — one of my music conferences, as it happens, has been held at the same time for years.

I attended a session on RDA, the new cataloging standard recently beta-tested by LC. Christee Pascale of NCSU gave a very helpful, concise reprise of that school’s experience as a test participant; the staff training program and materials they developed; and advice to others planning to implement RDA.

Presenters from UNCG and UNCC shared a session titled “Technical Services: Changing Workflows, Changing Processes, Personnel Restructuring — Oh My!” Both sites have recently undergone library-wide re-organizations, including the re-purposing of tech services staff to other areas, resulting in pressure to ruthlessly eliminate inefficiencies. Many of the specific steps they mentioned are ones we’ve already taken in ZSR, but some interesting additional measures include:

  • Eliminating the Browsing Collection in favor of a New Books display.
  • Reducing the funds structure (for instance, 1 fund per academic department — no subfunds for material formats)

There also seems to be a trend towards re-locating Tech Services catalogers to Special Collections, in order to devote more resources to the task of making the library’s unique holdings more discoverable; outsourcing or automating as many tech services functions as possible, including “shelf-ready” services, authority control, and electronic ordering; and training support staff (whose time has putatively been freed by the outsourcing/automation of their other tasks) to do whatever in-house cataloging remains. That’s the vision, at any rate — our presenters pointed out the problems they’ve encountered in practice. For instance, UNCC at one point had one person doing the receiving, invoicing, and cataloging: they quickly found they needed to devote more people to the still-significant volume of in-house cataloging that remained to be done even after optimizing use of outsourced services. They’re also feeling the loss of subject expertise (in areas like music, religion, etc.) and of experienced catalogers to make the big decisions (i.e., preparing for RDA).

NCLA plans to post all presentations on their website: http://www.nclaonline.org/

 

 

The Future of Cataloging – Steve at ALA

Tuesday, July 6, 2010 1:49 pm

It’s not often that you go to a conference and have a major realization about the need to re-organize how you do your work and how your library functions, but I did at this year’s ALA. Through the course of several sessions on RDA, the new cataloging code that is slated to replace AACR2, I came to realize that we very much need to implement and maintain authority control at ZSR. This is not easy to say, as it will necessarily involve some expense and a great deal of time and effort, but without proper authority control of our bibliographic database, our catalog will suffer an ever-diminishing quality of service, frustrating patrons and hindering our efficiency.

You may ask, what is authority control? It’s the process whereby catalogers guarantee that the access points (authors, subjects, titles) in a bibliographic record use the proper or authorized form. Subject headings change, authors may have the same or similar names, and without controlling the vocabulary used, users can be confused, retrieving the wrong author or not retrieving all of the works on a given subject.

Here at ZSR we have historically had no authority maintenance to speak of. Our catalog records were sent out to a company to have the authorities cleaned up some time shortly before I started working here, and I started working here eight years ago this month. I have long thought that it was a problem that we have no authority control system, however, it did not seem to be a crisis. However, that was until RDA came along.

RDA (or Resource Description and Access) is, as you probably know by now, the new cataloging code that is supposed to replace AACR2. AACR2 focuses on the forms of items cataloged, whether the item is a book, a computer file, an audio recording, etc. The description gives you plenty of information about the item, the number of pages, the publisher, etc. If you do not have authority control (as we don’t), you may have a book with a similar title to another book, but you can distinguish it by saying, the book I need has 327 pages, with 8 pages of color prints, it’s 23 cm. high and it was published by Statler & Waldorf in 1998. In RDA, the focus is on points of access and in identifying works. Say you have a novel (a work) that has been published as a print book, as an audio book, and as an electronic book (by three different publishers on three different platforms). With RDA, you want to create a record to identify the work, the novel as an abstract concept, not the specific physical (or electronic) form that the novel takes. It’s not as easy to resort to the physical description (as with AACR2), because there may be no physical entity to describe at all. In that case, who wrote the book, the exact title of the book, and the subjects of the book become of paramount importance for identifying a work. RDA essentially cannot function without proper authority control (I had realized this fact during the course of the presentations I attended, but on my last day, a speaker’s first conclusion about preparing for RDA was “Increase authority control.”).

RDA is still being implemented, and the Library of Congress is currently undergoing a test to decide by March 2011 if they will adopt RDA. However, that test period seems a mere formality. There appears to be considerable momentum for the adoption of RDA, and I believe it will be adopted, even if many catalogers do have reservations about it. We may have another year to two-years before the momentum will force us to move to RDA, but in the meantime, I believe we need to get some sort of authority control system in place.

The advantages of authority control will be felt almost immediately in our catalog. The use of facets in VuFind will be far more efficient if the underlying data in the subject headings is in proper order. Also, as we move to implement WakeSpace, which will make us in essence publishers of material, we will need to make sure that we have our authors properly identified and distinguished from others (we need to make sure that our David Smith is the one we’ve got listed as opposed to another David Smith). Also, should we ever attempt to harvest the works of our university authors in an automated way to place them in WakeSpace, we will need to make sure that we are identifying the proper authors. The only way to do that is through authority control.

This issue will require some research and study before we can move forward with implementing authority control and maintenance. We will need some training for our current catalogers (definitely including me), we will need to have our current database’s authorities “cleaned up,” and we will have to institute a way to maintain our authorities, possibly including the hiring of new staff. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be cheap, but if our catalog is to function in an acceptable manner, I think it’s absolutely necessary.

Needless to say, I’ll be happy to talk about this with anyone who wants to.

Leslie at MLA 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010 8:08 pm

Music librarians are inured to battling winter weather to convene every year during February in some northern clime (during a Chicago snowstorm last year). So it was almost surreal to find ourselves, this year, at an island resort in San Diego in March (beautiful weather, if still a bit on the chilly side). Despite the temptations of the venue, I had a very productive meeting this year.

REFERENCE

In the Southeast Chapter session, it was announced that East Carolina’s music library had scored top place among music libraries participating in a national assessment, sponsored by the Wisconsin-Ohio Reference Evaluation Program (WOREP), of effectiveness in answering reference queries. Initially, the East Carolina staff had misgivings about how onerous the process might be for users, who were asked to fill out a one-page questionnaire. As it turned out, students, when informed that it was part of a national project, typically responded “Cool!” and readily participated. The only refusals were from users who had to rush to their next class.

INSTRUCTION

A panel presentation titled “Weaving the Web: Best Practices for Online Content” resulted in a case of what might be termed the Wake Forest Syndrome: walking into a conference session only to find that we’re already “doing that” at WFU. It was largely about music librarians implementing LibGuides. One item of interest was a usability study conducted by one school of their LibGuides. Its findings:

Users tend to miss the tabs at the top. One solution that was tried was to replicate the tabs as links in the homepage “welcome” box.

Users prefer concise bulleted lists of resources over lengthy descriptions.

Students tend to feel overwhelmed by long lists of resources; they want the top 3-4 resources to start with, then to see others as needed.

Users were confused by links that put them into other LibGuides without explanation.

Students had trouble identifying relevant subject-specific guides when these were offered in a comprehensive list display.

One attendee voiced concern over an apparent conflict of objectives between LibGuides that aim to transmit research skills (i.e., teaching students how to locate resources on their own) and course-specific LibGuides (listing specific resources). Is the latter spoon-feeding?

COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT

A panel presentation on scores approval plans gave me some useful tips, as I’m planning to set one up next fiscal year.

In another panel on collecting ethnic music, Liza Vick of Harvard supplied a gratifying number of acquisition sources that I didn’t know about (in case other liaisons are interested in these, Liza’s presentation, among others, will be posted on the MLA website: http://www.musiclibraryassoc.org). The session also produced an interesting discussion about the objectives of collecting ethnographic materials in the present era. Historically, libraries collected field notes and recordings done by (mostly European) ethnographers of (mostly non-Western) peoples, premised on producing the most “objective” or “authentic” documentation. The spread of technology in recent years has resulted in new situations: “sampler” recordings produced by the former “subjects” with the aim of representing their culture to a general public (once dismissed by academics, these now benefit from a new philosophy that views the ways people choose to represent themselves as worthy of serious attention); in the last twenty years or so, a new genre of “world” music has appeared, fusing elements of historical musical traditions with modern pop styles; and of course the former “subjects” are now documenting their own cultures in venues like YouTube. As a result, there is a movement on the part of ethnographers and librarians away from trying to define authenticity, and towards simply observing the ongoing discourse between traditional and modern communities.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Lynn has remarked on the need to reduce the percentage of our collections devoted to print bibliographic tools where the online environment now offers equivalent or superior discovery methods. In an MLA session that seemed to constitute a demonstration of this very principle, musicologist Hugh McDonald talked about his work in progress on a born-digital thematic catalog of the works of Bizet. Thematic catalogs have a long and venerable history in print, as definitive sources for the identification and primary source materials of a given composer’s works. They typically provide a numbering system for the works, with incipits (the musical notation for the principle themes) as an additional aid to identification, and cite manuscript materials and early editions. When freed of the space restrictions of print, McDonald envisions these catalogs as “theoretically” (i.e., when copyright issues have been ironed out) capable of documenting not just early editions but all editions ever published; not just the premiere performance, but all performances to date; not just incipits but full-text access to scores, recordings, reviews, and correspondence – compiled and updated collaboratively by many hands, in contrast to the famous catalogers of Mozart and Beethoven, who labored alone and whose catalogs are now “seriously out of date.” There are already many websites devoted to individual composers, but none, McDonald claims, presently approaches the kind of comprehensive compendium that might be realized based on the thematic catalog concept. One attendee, voicing a concern about the preservation of information in the online environment that is certainly not new and not unique to music, wanted to know if edits would be tracked and archived, noting that many librarians retain older print editions on their shelves for the light they cast on reception history and on the state of scholarship at a given time.

HOT TOPICS

Arriving late for the “Hot Topics” session, I walked into the middle of a lively debate on the comparative benefits of having a separate music library in the music department vs. housing the music collection in the main library. Those who headed departmental music libraries argued passionately for the special needs of performing musicians, and a librarian onsite who speaks their language. Those who work as generalists in main libraries pointed to music’s role in the arts and humanities as a whole, and in the increasingly interdisciplinary milieu of today’s academe. In terms of administrative clout, a sense of isolation has always been endemic to departmental libraries: one attendee who “survived” a move of her music collection from the music department to the main library reported that she now enjoys unprecedented access to administration, more effective communication with circulation and technical services staff regarding music materials, and daily contact with colleagues in other disciplines that has opened opportunities she would not have had otherwise.

Another hot topic was “MLA 2.0″: in response to dwindling travel budgets, a proposal was made to ask conference speakers to replay their presentations in Second Life.

CATALOGING

There were presentations on RDA and FRBR, two new cataloging standards, and I got to see some helpful examples for music materials, and well as a report on “deferred issues” that MLA continues to negotiate with the steering committee of RDA (these involve uniform titles and preferred access points; lack of alternative options for the principle source of information – problematic when you have a CD album without a collective title on the disc, but one on the container; definitions and treatment of arrangements and adaptations; and LC genre/form terms for music – which to use anglicized names for, and when to use the original language).

Indiana U, in their upcoming release of Variations, a program they’ve developed for digitizing scores and recordings collections, is “FRBRizing” their metadata. Unlike other early adopters of FRBR, they plan to make their metadata structure openly accessible, so that the rest of us can actually go in and see how they did it – this promises to be an invaluable aid to music catalogers as they transition to the new standard.

Another presenter observed that both traditional cataloging methods and the new RDA/FRBR schema are centered on the concept of “the work” – an entity with a distinct title and a known creator. Unfortunately, when faced with field recordings (and doubtless other ethnographic or other-than-traditionally-academic materials), a cataloger encounters difficulty proceeding on this premise. Does one take a collection-level approach (as archivists do with collections of papers) and treat the recording as “the work,” with the ethnographer as the creator? Or does one consider “the work” to be each of the often untitled or variously titled, often anonymously or collaboratively created performances captured on the recording? Music materials seem to span both sides of the paradigmatic divide, with Western classical repertoire that requires work-centered descriptors of a very precise and specialized nature (opus numbers, key, etc.) and multi-cultural research that challenges traditional modes of description and access.

Finally, I’ve got to share a witty comment made by Ed Jones of National University, who gave the introductory overview of FRBR. Describing how FRBR is designed to reflect the creative process – the multiple versions of a work from first draft through its publication history, to adaptations by others – he noted how the cataloger’s art, working from the other end, is more analogous to forensics: “We get the body, and have to figure out what happened.”

MarcEdit

Monday, December 7, 2009 10:45 am

On November 13 I traveled to Cleveland, OH to attend a seminar on a batch marc editing tool called Marceditor. This was a unique and rare opportunity for me, as the creator of the software was coming to discuss the software. Upon arriving in Cleveland, I walked in to a packed room where they were setting up more tables as people walked in as it was so well attended. The first speaker was Roman Panchyshyn, cataloging librarian associate professor from Kent State University. He discussed different snatch and grab tools for uploading batch records in order to meet the needs of our patrons faster.

The main reason when I went was to be able to hear the creator of Marceditor, Terry Reese from Oregon State University to discuss the best practices to use his software. There was also a large portion of time devoted to questions which I had quite a few before even leaving Winston-Salem. Upon arriving and getting into the training the first thing I found out was that Terry Reese was ready to release a new version of Marceditor. He then went through all the new features of the upgrade and many of my questions and frustrations were addressed with the new version. They also announced a new listserv community for support and help from those who use the program. We were then given some hands on exercises so if we ran into problems we had the expert there to help us. We were given about an hour for questions.

If you would like the handouts or more information please let me know I would be happy to pass them along.


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