Planet Cataloging

January 27, 2015

OCLC Cataloging and Metadata News

ALA Midwinter 2015

Meet with your OCLC cooperative colleagues at the OCLC booth. Attend our various conference events and presentations.

January 27, 2015 01:00 AM

January 26, 2015

025.431: The Dewey blog

The West African Ebola Epidemic Turns One

Anniversaries are often occasions for celebration.  Not this one.  As the World Health Organization (WHO) reminds us, we are now one year into the deadly Ebola epidemic that has claimed the lives of thousands of persons in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.  Fortunately, it appears that a turning point in the epidemic may have been reached.

WHO has recently issued a series of 14 papers that examine this first epidemic of Ebola virus disease in West Africa, including Introduction; Origins of the Ebola epidemic; Factors that contributed to undetected spread; Guinea: The virus shows its tenacity; Liberia: A country and its capital are overwhelmed; Sierra Leone: A slow start to an outbreak that eventually outpaced all others; Key events in the WHO response; WHO technical support – a lasting impact?; Modernizing the arsenal of control tools: Ebola vaccines; Classical Ebola virus disease in DRC; Successful Ebola responses in Nigeria, Senegal, Mali; The importance of preparedness – everywhere; The warnings the world did not heed; and What needs to happen in 2015.

These reports reveal several of the facets of Ebola.  First, there’s the Ebola virus itself.  Then there’s Ebola virus disease.  Then we have the Ebola epidemic, as well as vaccines to prevent the disease and various therapies to treat the disease. 

A WebDewey search on "Ebola" retrieves 0 records (!), even when searched against All Fields.  To find where works on any of the facets of Ebola should be classed in the DDC, we need to know a little more about the virus first.  The website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides us with the information that we need:   "Ebola is caused by infection with a virus of the family Filoviridae, genus Ebolavirus."   Or we could go to the MeSH browser, where a search on “Ebola virus” would lead us to this entry for the MeSH heading "Ebolavirus":


A search in WebDewey on "Filoviridae" takes us to 579.256 Single-stranded, enveloped RNA viruses, where Filoviridae is in the including note.   This provides us with both one number of interest to us (i.e., the number where the Ebola virus should be classed) and the kind of virus that it is (i.e., an RNA virus).  An example of a work on the Ebola virus itself, classed in 579.256, is Ebola and Marburg viruses: molecular and cellular biology.

Searching on "RNA virus*" takes us also to 614.588 RNA virus infections and to 616.918 RNA virus infections.  Of course we need to know the hierarchy above 614.588 and 616.918 to know the meanings of those classes and how they differ from one other.  We find:



Ascending the upward hierarchy of 614.588, we come to 614 Forensic medicine; incidence of injuries, wounds, disease; public preventive medicine, of which we are concerned with the incidence of disease and public preventive medicine.  A little investigation takes us to 614.4 Incidence of and public measures to prevent disease, which has a class-here note reading, "Class here epidemiology," and a see reference reading, "For incidence of and public measures to prevent specific diseases and kinds of diseases, see 614.5."  So we find that 614.588 is the epidemiology of RNA virus infections (including Ebola); Ebola epidemics would be classed there.  Since Ebola is in standing room at 614.588, we can’t add Table 1 notation to indicate when and/or where the epidemic is taking place.

What about vaccines for Ebola and other preventive measures?  We find 615.372 Vaccines, which has a class-elsewhere note reading, "Class use of specific vaccines with the disease in 614.5, e.g., use of influenza vaccines 614.518."  The anticipated literature on Ebola vaccines will thus be classed with Ebola preventive medicine in 614.588. 

Scanning the hierarchy above 616.918, we find 616 Diseases, which allows us to recognize that 616.918 is the appropriate class number for Ebola virus disease.  Again, Ebola is in standing room there, so we cannot undertake any number building to express a more specific element of the topic.  An example of a work on the Ebola virus disease, classed in 616.918, is Tara C. Smith’s Ebola.

What about treatment of the disease?  Under 615.5 Therapeutics, we find a scatter class-elsewhere note instructing us to "Class therapies applied to a specific disease or group of diseases with the disease or group of diseases in 616–618, plus notation 06 from table under 616.1–616.9, notation 06 from table under 617, or notation 06 from table under 618.1–618.8, e.g., therapies for cardiovascular diseases 616.106."  Thus, even though, for example, general works on immune serums are classed in 615.37 Immunologic drugs and immune serums and general works on antiviral drugs are classed in 615.7924 Antiviral agents, works on their use in treating Ebola are classed in the number for the disease, i.e., 616.918.  Because Ebola is in standing room at 616.918 (as mentioned previously), we cannot add 616.1–616.9:06 Therapy or any of its subdivisions (despite the explicit [but only general] instruction to do so).

by Rebecca at January 26, 2015 08:24 PM

First Thus

ACAT Best practice for reclassifying fraudulant nf to fiction

Posting to Autocat concerning the story about Alex Malarkey’s The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven

On 20/01/2015 8.14, Moore, Richard wrote:
This sort of invites the question, why wasn’t it classed as fiction in the first place?

Of course, catalogers are supposed to be “unbiased” which actually means accepting any premises of the item we are cataloging. So, if a book claims to be a non-fictional record of travels with space aliens into Alpha Centuri, or people who talk with elves, or that the ghost of Mozart took them over and wrote a new symphony, as professionals we are not supposed to question that. So, this story of a young boy who went to heaven and returned had to be cataloged as if it were non-fiction, no matter what were the opinions of the cataloger.

Just because something has been proven wrong, or even was completely made-up–which happens quite often, as for example, Harry Houdini unmasked many spiritualists, but even today in science and journalism (e.g. the Jayson Blair debacle at the NY Times), does it mean that an item, cataloged under the conditions I described, should be reconsidered as fiction? Although this book turned out to be a lie or falsified, it did not portray itself as fiction.

One of the most famous of this type of deception is “Papillon” by Henri Charrière, which was made into a great movie with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. All made up, but I see it is still classed in HV at LC.

I would hesitate re-classing as fiction, because it is not. It turned out to be an untruth which is something entirely different from “fiction”.

Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if something is fiction vs. non-fiction, but that’s why we get paid the big money(!).


by James Weinheimer at January 26, 2015 12:35 PM

January 22, 2015

First Thus

Ebook on Visualizing Cataloging Concepts

I have just written a small pamphlet with the rather long title of, “A visual explanation of the areas defined by AACR2, RDA, LCNAF, LC Classification, LC Subject Headings, Dewey Classification, MARC21″

I wrote it because I have seen non-catalogers very often mix-up these different terms. I wanted something visual so that people could see how, when they mention, e.g. MARC, then that is not the same as talking about AACR2 and so on. It is primarily visual with a minimum of text.

Also, I have been wanting to do an ebook for awhile. I have made a few but this is the first I have decided to share. This book is very simple to show that MARC and AACR2 and Subjects are different and should not be mixed up.

You can download the book from my blog at There are different formats you can choose. If somebody wants another format, let me know.

I decided not to add it to Google Books, but I could change that decision.

Please share this posting with others who may be interested.


by James Weinheimer at January 22, 2015 05:30 PM

Mod Librarian

5 Things Thursday: Minimal Metadata, PBCore, DAM Education

Here are five things:

  1. What is Minimal Viable Metadata (MVM)?
  2. Check out a PBCore metadata how to webinar recording here.
  3. Self-paced Digital Asset Management education from the DAM Foundation.
  4. Really big report on Stanford Linked Data workshop.
  5. Free repository of WPA posters!

View On WordPress

January 22, 2015 01:04 PM

First Thus


Posting to Autocat

On 1/19/2015 12:10 AM, Julie Moore wrote:

Several people have noted that EAD is for “finding aids” but not “library catalogs.” So there is this separation between finding aids and the catalog. I have not been involved in creating “finding aids.”

In traditional practice, a finding aid is considered equivalent to an index into the greater resource (the special collection the finding aid describes). Catalogs exist to give access to the “greater resources,” i.e. an entire serial or a special collection. Therefore, in the catalog we find records for the “greater resource,” and any indexes are mentioned if they exist–but the actual contents of an index are not included in the catalog. Therefore, in cataloging terms, the finding aid has been considered to be similar to the 500 “Includes index” note, just putting it into a 555 note.

There was also a concern that adding entire finding aids to the catalog, each one describing thousands and thousands of individual records for each letter within someone’s correspondence, or for each note or doodle, would skew the catalog so much that the catalog would no longer provide a fair view of what can be found in the library.

Today, such considerations have been thrown out since the “single search box” brings it all together, for better or worse. I am unaware of any debate on these matters, but I think a debate would still be worthwhile. Still, we hear that “the single search box is what the public wants!”

Is it really what the public wants? I don’t know. It would make for an interesting discussion and an interesting research project.


by James Weinheimer at January 22, 2015 10:14 AM

January 21, 2015

First Thus


Posting to Autocat

On 1/17/2015 9:21 AM, Julie Moore wrote:

I’ve heard several people who have replied both on and off list say that DACS is similar to RDA in my cataloging world. And that the output for DACS is often EAD, which is used for finding aids … at least, I know I’ve seen DACS and EAD linked together quite a bit in comments. But you still want the DACS content to end up in a record for the library catalog, right?

Yes and no. Some information does, and other information does not. For example, here is a finding aid in EAD from Princeton:

and the catalog record is here (I hope the link makes it),1&=&=&=&=&PID=wpihzGf94erSFnP9t5a6Tbj1eKN (the title is “Chess papers of Eugene B. Cook”). There is a description of the entire collection in the catalog record, but there is also a link to the finding aid, where there is folder by folder information. Some finding aids have even more detailed information than this one.

When we examine the finding aid, we see that a lot of specific information is left out in the library catalog, e.g. “Carpenter, George Edward, 1844-1924: Problems correspondence”. So, if you search in the library catalog for Carpenter, George Edward, 1844-1924, you find only some books, but not the individual correspondence (under another form of name Carpenter, George E. (George Edward), 1844-1924). If you search him in the finding aids, you get his correspondence but not his books.

While the information for the individual folder could be in the library catalog, Princeton has decided it should not, and they should be searched separately. Today, federated searching could change that in several ways, searching both with one search and perhaps presenting the results in a tabbed display, one for library catalog, the other for finding aid results.


by James Weinheimer at January 21, 2015 11:27 PM

TSLL TechScans

Link Rot, Content Drift, and Reference Rot

The Internet is a fluid machine and the pages that make up the Web are only representative of the present. Links to web pages from last year, and sometimes even last month, are frequently obsolete. As these references become more common in published works, from law review articles to Supreme Court decisions this breakdown evidence supporting arguments progressively becomes more problematic.

To take a look at the challenges we face and some of the solutions that are available (or being developed), The New Yorker’s Jill Lepore takes a look at the work of Brewster Kahle’s Internet Archive in her article “Can the Internet be archived?

by (Lauren Seney) at January 21, 2015 03:27 PM

First Thus

BBC News – X-ray technique ‘reads’ burnt Vesuvius scroll

BBC News - X-ray technique 'reads' burnt Vesuvius scrollThe remains of the earliest library were found in Herculaneum, in a bunch of burned papyrus scrolls. Unrolling them has proven practically impossible, but now it seems as if we can read them without unrolling them.

I thought it would happen eventually, but this is much earlier than I thought it would.

See BBC News – X-ray technique ‘reads’ burnt Vesuvius scroll.


by James Weinheimer at January 21, 2015 11:50 AM

Resource Description & Access (RDA)

RDA Blog Guest Book in MARC 21 Fields & RDA Element Names

RDA Blog Guest Book MARC 21
RDA Blog Guest Book

RDA Blog Guest Book is re-designed in an interesting format according to MARC 21 Field Names & Resource Description & Access (RDA) Element Names for Name Authority Records (NAR). Please post your feedback, suggestions, and reviews through this guest book, to make this blog a better place for information on Resource Description & Access (RDA), AACR2, MARC 21, FRBR, FRAD, FRSAD, BIBFRAME and other areas of Library Cataloging.

Please write/publish detailed reviews of RDA Blog  in journals, books, and encyclopedias similar to following article published in Technical Services Quarterly, Taylor & Francis:

  • Tech Services on the Web: RESOURCE DESCRIPTION AND ACCESS (RDA) BLOG http://resourcedescriptionandaccess. blogspot. com

  • See also: 

    Thanks all for your love, suggestions, testimonials, likes, +1, tweets and shares ....

    by Salman Haider ( at January 21, 2015 05:40 AM

    Question on RDA Relationships asked at Google+ Community "RDA Cataloging"

    Question on Relationships in Resource Description & Access on Google+ Community RDA Cataloging - Answers from Experts at RDA-L

    I face a difficulty when recording a work relationship for a work which is a review of a critical edition of another work.

    Ideally, I would like to be able to connect between a work (the review) and the expression of another work (the critical edition).

    Here is an example:

    WORK A: Baalbaki, Ramzi, born 1951. [Review of] Harun's edition of Sibawayhi's Kitab (2010)

    WORK B: Sībawayh, died 796?. Al-Kitāb (ca. 780)

    EXPRESSION B1: Sībawayh, died 796?. Al-Kitāb (ca. 780). (Critical edition by H. Derenbourg, 1881‒1885). Text. Arabic

    EXPRESSION B2: Sībawayh, died 796?. Al-Kitāb (ca. 780). (Critical edition by A. S. Hārūn, 1966‒1977 ). Text. Arabic

    WORK A1 is a review of EXPRESSION B2.

    What do you suggest I should do? It seems that the relationship designators (here, "review of") apply either between two works or between two expressions but not between a work and the expression of another work.

    But here, WORK A itself, not one of its expressions, is a review of EXPRESSION B2. How should I record this relationship?


    Response by Heidrun Wiesenmüller, Professor of library science at the Stuttgart Media University (Germany)


    I have no easy solution, but I agree there is an oddity here.

    RDA indeed seems to restrict relationships to work-work and expression-expression, with no "cross-overs". Whereas this may be o.k. for other types of relationships, it doesn't fit descriptive relationships of the type you mentioned.

    You're quite right to think that the review of a certain edition is a work in its own right. Of course, the review work has at least one expression of its own. But it would be weird to record the relationship only between one expression of the review work and the reviewed edition. This would miss the point that *all* expressions of the review work describe the reviewed edition. So the relationship should indeed be recorded between a work (the review) and an expression of another work.

    It's interesting to compare the situation on expression level to the descriptive relationships on the level of manifestation and item (J.4.4 and J.5.2):
    - description of (manifestation) A manifestation described by a describing work.
    - description of (item) An item described by a describing work.

    So in these cases, RDA allows to record a relationship between a describing work and a manifestation, and a describing work and an item. It seems to me that the same should be possible for a relationship between a describing work and an expression. So perhaps J.3.3 needs to be changed according to the pattern of J.4.4 and J.5.2 (I assume a proposal would be needed for this).

    By the way, one might argue that these "descriptive relationships" between group 1 entities are really subject relationships, and shouldn't be here at all. They do stand out rather.



    Response by Gordon Dunsire, Chair, Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA

    Salman, Heidrun and others
    These issues are addressed in a submission from the JSC Technical Working Group to the JSC for its November 2014 meeting:

    6JSC/TechnicalWG/3  High-level subject relationship in RDA (



    Gordon Dunsire
    Chair, Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA


    Response by Heidrun Wiesenmüller, Professor of library science at the Stuttgart Media University (Germany)

    Thanks, Gordon, that's great.
    I haven't worked my way through all the documents yet, so had missed the fact that the proposal is already there :-)

    Do I understand correctly that the descriptive relationship designators (with the proposed revisions and additions) would stay in Appendix J, i.e. still belong to section 8 (Relationships between works, expressions, manifestations, and items). So there is no plan to move them to section 7 (subject relationships)?



    Response by Gordon Dunsire, Chair, Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA

    The JSC will discuss any improvements to RDA Toolkit associated with the Technical Working Group's recommendations in due course. There are no current plans to move the designators - but I think there are other submissions affecting relationship designators (I haven't had time myself to read all of the submissions).



    Gordon Dunsire

    Chair, Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA


    Response by Robert L. Maxwell, Ancient Languages and Special Collections Cataloger, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University

    I would do:

    Review of (expression): Sībawayh, ʻAmr ibn ʻUthmān, active 8th century. Kitāb. Arabic (Hārūn)

    It should also be possible to use this access point in a subject field.

    RDA doesn’t explicitly recognize a relationship between a work and an expression, but they happen all the time. In my opinion we should be able to record relationships between any FRBR entity and any other FRBR entity, as appropriate.



    RDA Blog Thanks Heidrun Wiesenmüller, Gordon Dunsire, and Robert L. Maxwell for their valuabe remarks

    by Salman Haider ( at January 21, 2015 03:21 AM

    January 20, 2015

    Thingology (LibraryThing's ideas blog)

    LibraryThing Recommends in BiblioCommons


    Does your library use BiblioCommons as its catalog? LibraryThing and BiblioCommons now work together to give you high-quality reading recommendations in your BiblioCommons catalog.

    You can see some examples here. Look for “LibraryThing Recommends” on the right side.

    Quick facts:

    • As with all LibraryThing for Libraries products, LibraryThing Recommends only recommends other books within a library’s catalog.
    • LibraryThing Recommends stretches across media, providing recommendations not just for print titles, but also for ebooks, audiobooks, and other media.
    • LibraryThing Recommends shows up to two titles up front, with up to three displayed under “Show more.”
    • Recommendations come from LibraryThing’s recommendations system, which draws on hundreds of millions of data points in readership patterns, tags, series, popularity, and other data.

    Not using BiblioCommons? Well, you can get LibraryThing recommendations—and much more—integrated in almost every catalog (OPAC and ILS) on earth, with all the same basic functionality, like recommending only books in your catalog, as well as other LibraryThing for Libraries feaures, like reviews, series and tags.

    Check out some examples on different systems here.


    BiblioCommons: email or visit
    Other Systems: email or visit

    Visit us at ALAMW

    Attending ALA Midwinter in Chicago? We’ll be at booth #1937, stop by for a demo!

    by Tim at January 20, 2015 04:57 PM

    025.431: The Dewey blog

    Rosetta and Comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko: 2014 Breakthrough of the Year

    Science named the rendezvous of the Rosetta spacecraft with Comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko as the 2014 breakthrough of the year. Here is the summary:

    Science's Breakthrough of the Year is the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In November, Rosetta's lander, named Philae, captured headlines around the world by touching down for the first time on the surface of a comet. Now, the instrument-studded mother ship is keeping pace with the comet as it continues in its orbit, snapping pictures and analyzing the jets of gas that will spew from 67P as the comet nears its closest approach to the sun in August 2015. The information the craft sends back to Earth should give scientists valuable clues to how the solar system formed and where Earth got its chemicals—including the water that makes up an essential component of all known life.

    Here are two excerpts from the 19 December 2014 Science article:

    Whatever data Philae did manage to return will be significant, not least because 67P is just the seventh place beyond Earth explored by a lander. (Venus, Mars, the moon, Saturn's moon Titan, and two asteroids are the others.) Yet the importance of the landing was largely emotional and symbolic. Mission managers have suggested that 80% of the overall science return would come from Philae's mother ship, Rosetta, which reached the comet in August and has been orbiting it ever since, scrutinizing it from as close as 10 kilometers away. That broader achievement, and the cornucopia of information it is yielding, are what Science is celebrating as 2014's Breakthrough of the Year.
    . . .

    Much of Rosetta's power comes from its ability to inspect the comet at close range for months on end. The half-dozen or so previous missions to comets were all flybys that were over in hours.

    More information can be found on the European Space Agency's web site.

    We don’t yet have monographs based on the latest information from Rosetta, but the Rosetta mission was long in the making, and there are works about the plans for the current mission.  The mission was approved in 1993, and the launch was originally scheduled for 2003, with the intention to rendezvous with comet 46P Wirtanen; however, the launch was delayed, the opportunity to rendezvous as planned with that comet lost, and when the spacecraft was launched in 2004, it needed a new target.  The new target comet has its own LCSH: Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet.

    Browsing the Relative Index for "comets" yields two unsubdivided numbers:

    Comets T2--993
    Comets 523.6

    The Table 2 number (T2—993 Meteoroids and comets) is useful only for number building.  The number 523.6—the interdisciplinary number for comets—looks promising.  In the full record for 523.6 Comets, the Hierarchy box shows that 523.6 is the astronomy number as well as the interdisciplinary number for comets:


    The full record for 523.63 Motion and orbits has this class-elsewhere note: "Class motion and orbits of specific comets in 523.64." There is a similar class-elsewhere note at 523.66 Physical phenomena and constitution: "Class physical phenomena and constitution of specific comets in 523.64."

    We look at the full record for 523.64 Specific comets.  Here is the Hierarchy box:


    Only Halley’s comet has its own number (523.642); other specific comets are classed in 523.64. A dissertation about Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet has been classed in 523.64:
    The Emission of Large Dust Particles from Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko Constrained by Observation and Modelling of its Dust Trail.
    Two LCSH have been editorially mapped to 523.64 Specific comets:
    Hale-Bopp comet
    Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet

    Here are works about these comets classed in 523.64 Specific comets:

    Everybody's Comet: A Layman's Guide to Comet Hale-Bopp

    The Comet Hale-Bopp Book: Guide to an Awe-Inspiring Visitor from Deep Space

    Radio Observations and Theories of Shoemaker-Levy 9 Comet

    What about earlier works treating the Rosetta mission? The New Rosetta Targets: Observations, Simulations and Instrument Performances, published in 2004, is summarized as follows:

    Includes the papers presented at the workshop on "The New Rosetta targets, observations, simulations and instrument performances", held in Capri, in 2003. This work covers the fields of observations of the Rosetta targets, laboratory experiments and theoretical simulation of cometary processes, and the expected performances of Rosetta experiments.

    Rosetta’s ten-year trip to Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet allowed for secondary scientific targets—e.g., flybys of two asteroids—but the table of contents shows a heavy emphasis on comets, some chapters relating to comets in general, many focusing on Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet. The table of contents also has much about the special instruments and systems for observing Rosetta’s targets—but it is not limited to instrumentation. This work has been classed in 523.6 Comets.  Another version, published in 2011, seems to have the same table of contents, but has been classed in 523.64 Specific comets; probably the classifier felt that there was enough emphasis on the new main target to justify classing by predominance in 523.64 Specific comets.   

    Another work, Rosetta: ESA's Mission to the Origin of the Solar System, is summarized as follows:

    ROSETTA: ESA's Mission to the Origin of the Solar System is partially reprinted, with updates and corrections, from Space Science Reviews journal, Vol. 128/1-4, 2007. This is the first hard cover book on Rosetta to discuss science and instrumentation.

    This work has information about Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet but more about the Rosetta instrumentation that could be used for any comet—and yet it is not limited to instrumentation. It has been classed in 523.6 Comets.  

    by Juli at January 20, 2015 01:20 AM

    January 16, 2015

    Coyle's InFormation

    Real World Objects

    I was asked a question about the meaning and import of the RDF concept of "Real World Object" (RWO) and didn't give a very good answer off the cuff. I'll try to make up for that here.

    The concept of RWO comes out of the artificial intelligence (AI) community. Imagine that you are developing robots and other machines that must operate within the same world that you and I occupy. You have to find a way to "explain," in a machine-operational way, everything in our world: stairs and ramps, chairs and tables, the effect of gravity on a cup when you miss placing it on the table, the stars, love and loyalty (concepts are also objects in this view). The AI folks have actually set a goal to create such descriptions, which they call ontologies, for everything in the world; for every RWO.

    You might consider this a conceit, or a folly, but that's the task they have set for themselves.

    The original Scientific American article that described the semantic web used as its example intelligent 'bots that would manage your daily calendar and make appointments for you. This was far short of the AI "ontology of everything" but the result that matters to us now is that there have been AI principles baked into the development of RDF, including the concept of the RWO.

    RWO isn't as mysterious as it may seem, and I can provide a simple example from our world. The MARC record for a book has the book as its RWO, and most of its data elements "speak" about the book. At the same time, we can say things about the MARC record, such as who originally created it, and who edited it last, and when. The book and the record are different things, different RWO's in an RDF view. That's not controversial, I would assume.

    Our difficulties arise because in the past we didn't have a machine-actionable way to distinguish between those two "things": the book and the record. Each MARC record got an identifier, which identified the record. We've never had identifiers for the thing the record describes (although the ISBN sometimes works this way). It has always been safe to assume that the record was about the book, and what identified the book was the information in the record. So we obviously have a real world object, but we didn't give it its own identifier - because humans could read the text of the record and understand what it meant (most of the time or some of the time).

    I'm not fully convinced that everything can be reduced to RWO/not-RWO, and so I'm not buying that is the only way to talk about our world and our data. It should be relatively easy, though, without getting into grand philosophical debates, to determine the difference between our metadata and the thing it describes. That "thing it describes" can be fuzzy in terms of the real world, such as when the spirit of Edgar Cayce speaks through a medium and writes a book. I don't want to have to discuss whether the spirit of Edgar Cayce is real or not. We can just say that "whoever authors the book is as real as it gets." So if we forget RWO in the RDF sense and just look sensibly at our data, I'm sure we can come to a practical agreement that allows both the metadata and the real world object to exist.

    That doesn't resolve the problem of identifiers, however, and for machine-processing purposes we do need separate identifiers for our descriptions and what we are describing.* That's the problem we need to solve, and while we may go back and forth a bit on the best solution, the problem is tractable without resorting to philosophical confabulations.

    * I think that the multi-level bibliographic descriptions like FRBR and BIBFRAME make this a bit more complex, but I haven't finished thinking about that, so will return if I have a clearer idea.

    by Karen Coyle ( at January 16, 2015 08:01 AM

    January 15, 2015

    First Thus

    RDA-L RE: Main Entry Punctuation

    Posting to RDA-L

    On 13/01/2015 23.39, Kadri, Carolyn J wrote:

    Mr. Weinheimer wrote: ” Catalogers haven’t started adding links yet (for some reason that escapes me)”
    It is highly likely that the reason for this is that most of us catalogers in the U.S. don’t really know anything much about linked data let alone how to apply it”. It was enlightening to learn that the data is not as important as the “link”. Thank you.

    Glad I can help. In response to Thomas, those are some good examples you give. One of the sites that has the most meaning for me is the revamped AGRIS database Today, if you do a search e.g. “maize italy” ( and you scroll down, there are documents from Europeana and links to If you click on an individual record ( it really opens up, giving you results from Google, World Bank, dbpedia, and so on.

    I don’t question that this provides something never really seen before, and it makes searching several resources very simple. It’s cool. I know it was a lot of work to build. But I just wonder that for those people who are interested in this article (I am not one of them, so I am unhelpful) “The genetics of virus resistance in maize (Zea mays L.)” finds the information linked here as helpful, unhelpful, or confusing. The best thing I see is that by searching Google for the exact title, you find a link to the actual paper. Of tremendous help would be (in my opinion) knowing that in Google Scholar, you can see that this paper was cited 24 times. (

    In reply to David Bigwood: yes, linked data sites can go down, but that is why mirror sites become crucial. They not only serve to backup the data, but to backup the entire network if one part goes down. If it all crashes however, modern websites are supposed to have “fault tolerance” which means that if one part dies, it doesn’t all die, and the user may never even realize there is a problem.


    by James Weinheimer at January 15, 2015 01:24 PM

    Mod Librarian

    5 Things Thursday: DPLA, DAM, East Germany and Dolls?

    Here are five things to amaze and amuse:

    1. DPLA is hosting a Metadata Aggregation Webinar January 22nd.
    2. How do you select the best DAM solution?
    3. East German Stasi files open to public online for first time.
    4. Awesome wiki about Special Collections and Social Media.
    5. Learn the 17 things you can check out of libraries including dolls and puppets.

    View On WordPress

    January 15, 2015 01:05 PM

    5 Things Thursday: DPLA, DAM, East Germany and Dolls?

    Here are five things to amaze and amuse:

    1. DPLA is hosting a Metadata Aggregation Webinar January 22nd.
    2. How do you select the best DAM solution?
    3. East German Stasi files open to public online for first time.
    4. Awesome wiki about Special Collections and Social Media.
    5. Learn the 17 things you can check out of libraries including dolls and puppets.

    View On WordPress

    January 15, 2015 01:05 PM

    January 14, 2015

    First Thus


    Posting to Autocat

    On 12/01/2015 16.43, Dan Scott wrote:

    As a demonstration, a search for “heart of darkness laurentian” in Google turns up two of the top three hits in our Evergreen catalogue. (I ran this through a network proxy in a different country using a clean Firefox profile to try to ensure no tracking cookies or personalization, but can’t guarantee that something isn’t getting through.) In any case, adding “laurentian” to the keywords is a stand-in for the kind of relevancy boost that search engines could give to results based on context, personalization, location, etc, if there’s enough critical mass to make it worth their while.

    Again, I want to repeat that I am all for adding our records to the Googles, Yahoos, and whatever else there may be out there, but when we put our records in modern search engines, it is important to understand that we will be entering waters we have never experienced before. Catalogers (and other librarians) have been used to adding records to the catalog and pretty much forgetting them–other than updating an occasional heading–and for “findability,” they put the onus on traditional practices and the proviso that any users should be trained.

    This is completely different in the search engines where you absolutely must continue to nurture the links to make sure that the items you want will come to the top of the search results. And to do so at the same time as others are trying to get their books (and anything else) to come to the top (SEO). It’s like a titanic game of “King of the Mountain” where some players follow no rules at all. This game is not quite as terrible as “Game of Thrones” but it’s similar! For instance, if an SEO manager for a book store would discover that there are lots and lots and lots of people adding “laurentian” to their searches, I guarantee he/she would try to “get those eyeballs” to come to the book store site. It’s not that anyone is being bad–it is the purpose of the job. These people can be incredibly clever and can justify almost anything. (I think it is a fascinating development since there are not really any “laws” governing any of it. Right now, the enforcement comes from the Googles who will downgrade sites for behavior they have deemed to be “bad”. For those who are interested and want more on this, search for “black hat SEO” or “SEO dirty tricks”. There’s a lot)

    Of course, you don’t have to play this game, but then you lose and your sites just get lower and lower in the results. So, getting the records into the Googles is not the end and will demand a huge effort in caring and nurturing if they are to be findable–and stay findable.


    by James Weinheimer at January 14, 2015 12:24 PM

    January 13, 2015

    First Thus

    RDA-L Re: Main Entry Punctuation

    Posting to RDA-L

    On 12/01/2015 12.51, Bernhard Eversberg wrote:
    Am 12.01.2015 03:01, schrieb Ian Fairclough:

    We are dealing with bibliographic data, in an environment of linked data. These elements of style have been retained from previous practice. In the context of linked bibliographic data the comma, as well as the final period, are redundant and meaningless. They serve to perpetuate the status quo, in terms of the expectations of catalogers plus any others who have been trained to expect them.

    Exactly. More to the point, it is previous USMARC practice. And for all I know, numerous ILSs still expect the punctuation or are unable to supply it to create correctly formatted displays. So what else are catalogers to do but stick the the practice they’ve been brought up with? Outside USMARCistan, systems have always been used to supply all punctuation by themselves. UKMARC therefore didn’t dictate its input, and German systems neither.

    Since we are heading–willy nilly–into linked data, we need to keep in mind that it is the *link* and not so much the data that is important. Catalogers haven’t started adding links yet (for some reason that escapes me) and are still focusing on textual strings where periods and commas are important. With linked data, the data lies at the end of the link and that data can be experienced in all kinds of ways. For instance, if catalogers added the VIAF link for “Karl May,” they would include a link such as this: The display of the data could then be any, or all of the forms found there, or it could actually be none of these forms because VIAF includes a link to Worldcat Identities, and it could display in some way from the data found there.

    But it doesn’t stop even at that point. There is a link from the Worldcat Identities record to Wikipedia (which can then be automatically translated into a dbpedia link: and there are all kinds of other links there. All of those links are not by catalogers or other librarians at all.

    The information found there can interoperate in any number of ways, for instance, the searcher may not see a form or Karl May’s name, but they may see a photo of him, or even an image of a bunch of his books (, and another a textual display of his name in Hebrew.

    I am sure that some of these methods will be better and others will be worse–but what is important for catalogers is: catalogers will have very little control, and probably not any control at all, over what the users will see and experience. As long as the URI remains more or less the same, the display of the data can vary enormously.

    This is too much for me to really imagine how this will work in reality, or whether it will provide anything that is useful or even coherent, but definitely, we are discussing a radically new world. And somehow, catalogers will have to find a way to fit in.


    by James Weinheimer at January 13, 2015 10:10 PM