Cultural Heritage

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Archive for the 'Cataloguing' Category

More about RDA

Posted by Brian Kelly on 16th July 2010

Free of charge trial period

Don’t forget that RDA Online is available to trial free of charge until 31st August 2010.

ALCTS Presentations

The ALCTS CRS Continuing Resources Cataloging Committee has posted the presentations given at their Monday Update Forum in DC. The Forum focused on the upcoming RDA Testing with following two speakers:

Tina Shrader, a representative from the National Agricultural Library on the Task Group coordinating the official testing of RDA

Renette Davis, who shared thoughts on preparing staff for testing RDA at the University of Chicago.

The presentations are available from:

On the website
ALA Connect

Full minutes from this meeting will be posted in the CRCC Connect area soon.

CLA Pre-Conference 2010 on RDA Presentations

All of the presentation slides for the “Shaping Tomorrow’s Metadata with RDA Pre-conference” from the Canadian Library Association Conference (CLA) is available on the Technical Services Interest Group (TSIG) wiki <>.

ALA Publication

Introducing RDA:  A Guide to the Basics
Chris Oliver

Author Chris Oliver, Cataloguing and Authorities Coordinator at the McGill University Library and chair of the Canadian Committee on Cataloging, offers practical advice on how to make the transition from the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR) to Resource Description and Access (RDA).

Previous Posts on this Blog about RDA

Brave New World of RDA

Talking about RDA

Some Links to RDA Information

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Some Links for RDA Information

Posted by Brian Kelly on 26th May 2010

With RDA Online due to launch in June 2010, where do you go for the latest information? We’ve pulled together some useful links to help you.

If you want the fullest information on RDA content and its development, the official Web site is the Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA. The November 2008 Constituency review draft text is still available but some of the PDFs are large files so bear this in mind if downloading or printing out.

Looking for discussion? Well, in addition to threads on other lists, there is also a dedicated email discussion list RDA-L@LISTSERV.LAC-BAC.GC.CA.

Want to know in general terms about the changes from AACR2 to RDA? You can find a couple of PDF document files on the JSC Web site, while Barbara Tillet, Chief of the Policy and Standards Division at the Library of Congress has done an overview “RDA Changes from AACR2 for texts” that is available as a Webcast (you’ll need Real Player for this) which is 75 minutes long – 50 minutes of presentation followed by Q&A. The Web page for the Webcast includes a link to a downloadable Powerpoint file of the talk – the second link under “Related Library Resources” at the bottom of the page.

The Library of Congress has also put up some documentation about the U.S. RDA Test. Of particular interest might be “MARC 21 encoding to accommodate RDA elements”.

The prices are decided by the publishers, ALA. Prices for the U.S. were announced in January 2010 and they’ve recently added another category for solo users. For other countries it’s ‘watch this space’ on the new RDA Toolkit website

The CILIP Cataloguing and Indexing Group has also put up some useful links on RDA in its Tools and References section.

Previous posts on this blog on RDA are Talking About RDA and The Brave New World of RDA.

Posted in Cataloguing, Libraries | 1 Comment »

Searching by Pictures

Posted by Brian Kelly on 12th April 2010

I recently came across this feature at Nottinghamshire Public Libraries Web site on their NeLib2 ‘your online library’ page. At the bottom of the left hand side bar there’s a link to the Visual Library to ‘search your Library’s books and materials using pictures’. That sounded interesting so I had a look.

The first thing to note is that it is only for the junior stock (Kid’s Library) and not for adult stock. That said, the immediate impression is good. The layout is simple and uncluttered and it looks interesting. The first search page has image icons for ten categories: animals, fun stuff, handicrafts, holidays, kid’s concerns, science, spooky things, sports, stories and United States. Here’s a slightly edited view of the first set of icons.

Searching by pictures: Nottinghamshire library

Clicking on either the image or the link text below any one of these takes you to another page of images – Autumn is one of the images under Science. Clicking this image takes you to a results page with a nice simple presentation of the details (title, author, date and shelf mark) alongside an image of the book jacket. Picture books get a PIC indicator, other items are marked J for junior stock.  But the results page can be long – under Stories I found Fairy Tales which has 442 titles – and appear to be in random order. I think the image part of the search works well but do wonder whether a child would look at more than the first page of results?

I also wondered how this might work for adult stock.  Who would it help? Maybe adults with lower literacy levels or without English as a first language? And for other users the visual route does provide a different impression to the usual text based pages – if I came across it in my public library catalogue I’d probably have a browse around. There would certainly need to be some work on first chunking up the stock with suitable headings and then finding sufficient appropriate images. It might not work for all parts of the stock. The number of items in the final display is an issue (even if I – as a professional – am making a search for something specific, my heart does sink when faced with more than a couple of pages of results) – and I wondered if further intermediate levels of images might be needed.

When I asked how it had been developed, Nottinghamshire said that ‘Kid’s Library’ was a standard package supplied by their library management system SirsiDynix.  They have had little feedback and feel that most of their customers are not fully aware of it and while they would like to develop it for other types of stock and customers, they have not had the time to do so.

Is anyone else with a SirsiDynix system using this package? Please share your experiences – it would be good to get some other views on this.

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Talking about RDA

Posted by Brian Kelly on 31st March 2010

At the recent CILIP Executive Briefing Day on RDA held on 23 March (and repeated on 30 March 2010 due to heavy demand for places at this event),  I  spoke on the development of the new cataloguing code, Resource Description and Access (RDA): my slides are now available on Slideshare (and embedded below). The day focused on the need for RDA, the strategic aspects of moving to RDA and the challenges of implementation; the audience included delegates from both academic and public sector libraries.

Posted in Cataloguing, Libraries | 2 Comments »

The Brave New World of RDA

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17th March 2010

A few days ago I gave a talk  on RDA – what it is, how it’s been developed – and also how RDA has influenced changes in MARC 21, the library cataloguing format. It was also an opportunity to reflect how these standards could change, for example, future library OPACs.

I was giving this talk to students taking the cataloguing module of the information management studies courses at London Metropolitan University.  This sort of occasion is always a great opportunity to meet the next generation of professionals in the information sector. These people are right at the beginning of their career and don’t as yet know where this will take them – public libraries, private sector libraries (e.g. law firms, business companies), education (the whole range from schools through to colleges and universities), research or the voluntary sector (charities). The core skills they need will remain the same but the environment in which they use those skills is continuously changing. Drawers of catalogue cards have been replaced by OPACs, library stock is expected to inlcude e-books and e-journals and libraries are using blogs, microblogging and tagging to help users.

Back in the office it’s now down to making my talk more widely available. So I’ve uploaded my slides to my account on Slideshare as well as making them available from the Cultural Heritage and Bibliographic Management areas of the UKOLN web site. The next step is telling people I’ve done this, for instance by doing a short news item for the UKOLN news feed.  And of course writing this blog post – which will potentially  get to a further audience because the RSS feed of this blog feeds into our account (ukolnculture) on twitter.

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Posted in Cataloguing, Libraries | 3 Comments »

What is an ISTC?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 15th March 2010

ISTC stands for the International Standard Text Code (ISTC). This is a new numbering system developed to enable the unique identification of textual works and is published by the International Standards Organization as ISO 21047.

The ISTC Web site states that: “The International Standard Text Code (ISTC) system is a global identification system for textual works. It is primarily intended for use by publishers, bibliographic services, retailers, libraries and rights management agencies.” and “An ISTC can be applied to any textual work by any authorized representative of the author of a textual work”.

So whereas the ISBN distinguished between hardback and paperback versions of a text, the ISTC works to bring together a group of resources with the same content.

Crucially, “an ISTC does not ‘belong’ to a single author/publisher” – it belongs to the work. Put simply, that means that when the next Terry Pratchett novel comes out in hardback, the publisher can apply for an ISTC for it. The same ISTC is then also used for example, for paperback and large-print versions published in the UK even if they are published by different publisher(s) and for any versions published elsewhere.

So it could be a useful bit of data to include in library catalogue records, making it easier to search for a specific text work, for example, where a public library has multiple copies of the work in a number of branches, some in hardback (with its ISBN) and some in paperback (again with its own ISBN).

If you are a cataloguer, you might like to take a look at MARBI Discussion Paper 2010-DP03 which looks at the detail of where to place the ISTC within MARC 21 bibliographic and authority records.

Perhaps you’ve not seen an ISTC yet, but I gather around 4,000 have been assigned already. Initially they’ll be turning up in book trade records; then I’d expect to see them in bibliographic data suppliers records, and finally in public (and other) library catalogues. So keep a watch out for them.

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CILIP Update publication changes

Posted by Brian Kelly on 15th February 2010

As a member of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) I’ve received print copies of its journal Update for many years. Originally monthly and more recently with ten issues a year, from January 2008 selected articles were available in a digital version. Now I learn that from 2010 six editions a year will be in printed in hard-copy and six in digital format.

What difference will it make to me? The digital issues have new features (a choice of three reading views, a slideshow of the magazine, increased coverage through web links to additional content, and access to the magazine 24/7 anywhere in the world), members can access the archive of previous digital issues and further developments, including embedded audio and video content, are being researched. While that all sounds great (and I know that print publishing and mailing out is expensive) I then realised that there are some downsides too.

The journal is a member benefit, so access to Update Digital (and its archive) is restricted to CILIP members. Now I have access to the Internet at work and at home; other members may have neither. Further, I regularly lend my copies to a non-librarian colleague to read – and I can’t do the same for him with Update Digital issues. And if I have an article published in Update, I can’t simply link to it from my own publications web page.

So is it wrong to keep professional journals behind bars? When CILIP Cataloguing and Indexing Group (CIG) decided to move ‘Catalogue and Index’ from a print journal to an e-journal we also struggled with this issue, with some people arguing strongly for totally free access. In the end we came to a pragmatic compromise. It’s a benefit for CIG members, so we have members only access via the CILIP web site. But this only applies to the issues of the current year; the archive of digital issues from previous years is totally free for anyone to view and we also have plans to digitise the back run. Another downside of restricted access also means that we can’t have articles linked elsewhere or let authors link from their own web pages until the following year. And for those people without Internet access? We sent out a print letter to our members before the move to digital asking anyone who still needed a print copy to contact us – only a handful of people requested this, so currently these are printed off and sent out. Institutional subscribers get a PDF file and permission to print a hard copy for their members. Our solution is not perfect and we are keeping it under review, but for the moment it works.

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FRBR lecture at BL

Posted by Brian Kelly on 8th February 2010

I had the chance recently to attend a lecture at the British Library on FRBR given by Ronald J. Murray of the Library of Congress. If you are not a cataloguer, you may not recognise the acronym. FRBR stands for Functional Requirements of Bibliographic Records, a theoretical model that describes what we want catalogue records to do and (briefly) the data they need to contain to achieve that.

Why is this important to anybody other than cataloguers? Well, FRBR changed the way we think about the data in catalogue records because it made us think about the users of catalogues. FRBR concepts then became embedded in the new cataloguing rules Resource Description and Access (RDA), which in turn has prompted changes to the MARC Format (a metadata schema for library catalogue data). The changes in the format will now enable library management system vendors to develop new products which offer a richer searching experience to users.

So how might this work in practice? Typing in ‘cats’ as a search term in my public library catalogue today brings up 500 results. There is no order to the list, it includes both fiction and non-fiction titles and it doesn’t separate out different forms of resource. I could limit the search to items in my local branch (213 results) or limit it by media – large print, say, which gets me just 7 results – but however I limit I am still faced with an unordered list of adult and junior fiction and non-fiction titles in various media.

Now, if the catalogue had been designed with FRBR principles and a MARC Format enabled for RDA defined data, then my experience would be different. For example, options to limit my search for content type and audience would make it easier to find a book written for adults. Adding in a further limiter for media type means I could restrict the search to large print titles or e-books. Even if I don’t limit in these ways, if the right data is in the record (and the system is designed to do this) the results display could show the items in different groups – all the adult non-fiction text resources first, then junior non-fiction, then junior fiction, then videos, say. Another way would be to start with cats as a search term; the first results display might simply say ’500 items found’ and ask you to choose limiters (e.g. adult/junior, fiction/non-fiction, text/video/images).

Even if I am much more specific in my search term at the beginning, e.g. Romeo and Juliet, I get 102 results if I put no limits on it. The first page of results gives an animated version on DVD, a film on DVD, a ‘fantasy overture’ recorded music performance on CD, a playset with multiple copies, a vocal score for an opera, hardback text, a talking book on CD, a paperback text, a hardback text about the play, and another recorded music performance of the fantasy overture on audio cassette. If I knew I wanted the music recording, I could have limited it as ‘music’ but if I wanted a recording of the ballet and not the opera I can only limit by DVD. The results displays at this point mean I can easily see if something is on videotape or DVD, but recordings of the ballet and the opera are mixed up with films of the play and animated versions. In a FRBRised catalogue, a search for Romeo and Juliet, content = ballet, media = DVD, would find me the one item in stock.

So FRBR might be more important than you think in delivering a better library catalogue experience to your users in the future.

Posted in Cataloguing, Libraries | 1 Comment »

BIC BSG met despite the snow

Posted by Brian Kelly on 21st January 2010

On the 11th January the BIC Bibliographic Standards Group (of which I’m a member) met to consider the UK response to Papers scheduled for discussion at the MARBI meeting at the ALA 2010 Mid-Winter event. Following the meeting, the minutes were agreed via email, and posted on Google Docs on the 14th January.

Actually, when I say met, this was a telephone conference call – not a last-minute response to the weather and travel situation but pre-planned. The twice-yearly BIC BSG meetings take place just before the MARBI meetings, so that’s always early January and usually sometime in June. With group members based all over the UK, we now conference call the January meeting. Keeping the summer meeting face-to-face helps integrate new members but we are all more than happy not to have to face the challenges of winter travel.

The remit of the group is two-fold. One task is to decide on the UK response to proposed changes to the MARC 21 formats used in library catalogues; the UK representative presents this at the MARBI meetings. The other task is to keep a watching brief on a range of other standards of relevance to the UK library sector. Members of the group brief each other on a whole range of standards, often from the standpoint of a contributor to the development of a particular standard, or as a user of newly emerging standards. Where appropriate we can identify activity (e.g. an event, a paper) that we or another group might be able to take forward to inform the community.

So what were we discussing on the 11th January 2010? The five MARC 21 Proposals concerned differentiating types of electronic resources (2010-01), series data for digital preservation projects (2010-02), recording Date and Place of Capture information (2010-03) new data elements for work and expression information (2010-04) and coded cartographic mathematical data (2010-05). The three Discussion Papers concerned ISBD punctuation in records (2010-DP01), encoding URIs for controlled values (2010-DP02) and encoding new identifiers ISTC and ISNI (2010-DP03).

Standards we are currently watching are: BIC ‘Code of Practice for the Identification of E-Books and Digital Content’; the BIC E4Libraries Subject Category Headings (some public libraries are actively looking at using these); BIC Standard Subject Categories (pressure to converge with US scheme BISAC); International Standard Text Code (ISTC) – around 4,000 identifiers have been assigned to date; International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) – voting on the draft closes in March; RDA-DCMI Initiative; RDA in RDF at the NSDL Registry (Element Sets and Vocabularies); Dublin Core; FRBR; FRAD; FRSAD; Bibliontology; MODS; MADS; METS; Learning Object Metadata (LOM);; Harmony (harmonisation of metadata models).

What about the practicalities of virtual meetings? We used a telephone conference call (offered by specialized service providers). If this is going to be a lengthy call I’d suggest using a handset with hands-free option or a headset – easier on the ear and to take notes. Alternatively you could try Skype, a software application to make voice calls over the Internet. Calls to other Skype users are free, but of course everyone needs to have the application installed. Skype also has additional features (e.g. instant messaging, file transfer and video conferencing) which may be useful.

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Using QR Codes in Libraries and Museums

Posted by Brian Kelly on 15th July 2009

First things first – just what are QR codes?

Wikipedia defines a QR Code as: “a matrix code (or two-dimensional bar code) created by Japanese corporation Denso-Wave in 1994. The “QR” is derived from “Quick Response”, as the creator intended the code to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed.” The QR Codes can be read by some mobile phones with a camera or in Seb Chan’s wordsQR codes are probably best seen just as mobile-readable URLs“.

So how might QR codes be used in cultural heritage services? I’ve found a couple of places that are currently using these codes to help users.

The University of Bath Library is adding QR codes to the details you see in the results of a catalogue search. The code contains title, author and shelf location. Their blog post notes “I simply find the resource I want, scan the code and save it on my phone. I can then use this to find the item on the shelf. In fact, I can save this on my phone (I’d probably take a little more time and cut and paste into a mobile word document) and start to build up my own reference collection.

The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney is also trying out QR codes. In their case they’ve been trialling using the codes beside exhibits in a display to take the visitor to the catalogue entry for the item. The technical aspects are described in some detail in the post on March 5th 2009 with a follow-up post on April 8th 2009.

This follows an earlier experiment in which the QR code appeared in a festival catalogue and redirected readers to a ‘hidden’ web page which gave access to a discount voucher for the festival and free entry to the museum during the event. Further posts on October 16th 2008 and October 23rd 2008 reviewed the experiment and discussed some issues that arose.

Has anyone reading this tried using QR codes? It would be good to know if anyone else has experimented with using these codes and for what for what purpose, and how successful you think it’s been.

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RDA, collaboration and Web 2.0

Posted by Brian Kelly on 21st January 2009

Since 2005, I’ve been part of the international effort to create Resource Description and Access (RDA) – a set of cataloguing rules that can be applied to any type of resource, physical or digital. January is named for Janus, the Roman god of doorways, beginnings and endings, which prompted me to consider how technology has changed our collaborative working practices.

Despite the image of cataloguers as shy, retiring types in the backroom, this work has generated a lot of (sometimes heated) discussion. The development process has become far more open as information can be shared easily via a Web site and email discussion lists. In contrast, the text of the previous set of rules, AACR2, was only seen by most cataloguers once it was published in print.

Time and cost restraints limit the number of face-to-face meetings, so the CILIP/BL Committee on RDA uses email between meetings. Each formal UK response was compiled from these emails, but messages might cover several issues and subject lines might not match message content. Now we use a wiki – we still have the challenge of incorporating differing views into our responses but are spared having to trawl through multiple emails.

Outreach activities can connect with a wider audience. Presentations at events are made available via Web sites and services such as SlideShare. Articles in the professional literature (e.g. my article ‘RDA: a cataloguing code for the 21st century‘ in CILIP Update) are increasingly available in digital as well as print formats.

Making the draft text openly available has also demonstrated that cataloguers are happy to experiment with technology.  When the latest draft was issued in PDF format, Bernard Eversberg was able to create a searchable version on the Web just two days after release.

Technology is also influencing publication decisions: RDA will initially be published as an online resource. Potentially we could have comprehensive and concise versions, or versions targetted at cataloguers of specific materials (serials, music, legal, etc.) – even MyRDA. The text could be incorporated into the  cataloguing modules of library management systems. It’s going to be interesting to see how this develops.

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