Tuesday, May 27, 2014

ALA State of America's Libraries Report

On April 14, the American Libraries Association released its report on the State of Amercia's Libraries. This report expresses a high level of frustration with the state of e-books and e-book delivery. Nancy K. Herther has done an excellent write-up on several of the issues involved here.

There's also been some excellent news items about altmetrics and some great new resources when it comes to images -- The Metropolitan Museum of Art released almost 400,000 images online for non-commercial use. Also, if you've not seen it, the online journal Hybrid Pedagogy has been providing a platform for great new articles on how modern resources can be integrated and used in the classroom. Check it out!

Friday, May 23, 2014

CONSER Cataloging Manual updates for RDA

The Library of Congress PCC CONSER Documentation and update page now has many revised draft modules for the CONSER Cataloging Manual. These updates reflect changes to the manual necessitated by adoption of RDA. Each module has been extensively overhauled and begins with an outline, references and definitions for terms used. Each area of description lists the preferred source of information, with references to the RDA Toolkit and examples of how the RDA guidelines should be applied expressed in MARC. If there are differences between LC/PCC and CONSER practice, these differences are explicitly discussed.

Module 35: Integrating Resources includes extensive cataloging surrogates and example records in MARC with commentary discussing the cataloging choices. Sample records both before and after conversion to RDA are provided. This module concludes with cheat sheets for both print and online integrating resource RDA MARC records.

Some knotty areas, such as micro-forms, still require revision, but the project is well on its way to completion. The many concrete examples provided are wonderful aids to understanding application of RDA "suggestions" for description.

The completed modules are slowly being pushed out to the Cataloger's Desktop, but currently appear only in the "updates" area of the CONSER Cataloging Manual.

Monday, May 19, 2014

THIS is what linked data looks like?

On April 28, OCLC issued a press release (http://www.oclc.org/en-US/news/releases/2014/201414dublin.html) announcing the availability of 197 million bibliographic work descriptions, formatted as linked data. Collectively referred to as "WorldCat Works," the 197 million sets of linked data represent a leap forward in the migration of library data from traditional library catalogs to the linked data world of the World Wide Web.

Richard Wallis, OCLC's "Technology Evangelist," posted an article (http://dataliberate.com/2014/04/worldcat-works-197-million-nuggets-of-linked-data/) the same day with further information about the project and its significance to libraries. Roy Tennant devoted a post on the Hanging Together blog (http://hangingtogether.org/?p=3811) to this development, calling it "the most important thing you haven't heard of." Both Wallis and Tennant point their readers toward an example, Gandhi's "Story of my experiments with truth" (http://experiment.worldcat.org/entity/work/data/1151002411.html). Looking at the example, one sees a set of, well, links. The links are separated into a number of categories, many of which will be familiar to catalogers (e.g., contributor, creator, genre). The links can be viewed as several different kinds of RDF serializations, in addition to HTML: Turtle, RDF/XML, N-Triples, and JSON-LD.

While recognizing the significance of what OCLC has done, I confess to some confusion. The "work" chosen as an example is actually what RDA calls an "expression." Gandhi's "work" in the example is a translation of his autobiography, which was originally written in Gujarati, yet this is nowhere apparent in the sample "work" description. The original Gujarati work has its own work description (http://experiment.worldcat.org/entity/work/data/1809067428.html); as far as I can tell, it includes no link to the English translation. Is it unrealistic to expect linked data to provide links between works and their translations? Tennant's blog post explicitly refers to this capability: "By aggregating various translations of works around a single identifier, we can then present the record that a particular user wishes to see given their language capabilities." Unless I am misunderstanding what linked data is supposed to do (entirely possible!), what I am seeing so far in OCLC's work descriptions does NOT live up to this promise.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

E-Books and Ethical Dilemmas for the Academic Reference Librarian

When dealing with e-books, several ethical dilemmas exist as a result of competing professional values. Dilemmas identified and discussed here include challenges related to serving nonaffiliated users, providing high-quality service while respecting intellectual property rights, and balancing the needs of current users with the needs of future generations. Readers would like to have access to all e-books all of the time, with as few restrictions as possible. Librarians would like all of their users (affiliated or nonaffiliated, current or future) to be able to easily use e-books. Librarians also want to recognize the valuable contributions of authors, publishers, and content distributors while safeguarding patron privacy.

View the article at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02763877.2014.879035 (from Informed Librarian Online)