Something nice about OCLC

April 17, 2007 at 5:52 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

OK, so I have to admit that sometimes OCLC likes to share, after all. From Jessamyn’s Pimp my Firefox handout I finally found out about Link Evaluator, a really nifty little tool you can run to check the links on a webpage to see if they are still valid. It is shared by Openly Informatics, now part of OCLC (who isn’t, these days?). (The sharp eye of the cataloger notes a presumed typo on their “about” page: “At the beginning of 2006, OCLC was acquired by OCLC.” Uh huh.) [ETA: I will undoubtedly discover that this post is riddled with typos as soon as I put it up on the web.]

My initial response: Wow, what a great idea! And it’s free!

My response after trying it: Gee, I wish the link status indication didn’t go away after you click away from the page and then click back. I guess if you set your browser to open all links in a new window, this wouldn’t be a problem?

Further response: Another great example of what automation and can can’t do. Let’s try evaluating the links on a page, say, something vitally connected to the world of librarianship like Yarn Harlot’s post on thrummed mittens. (Catalogers are not the only ones who use a lot of jargon.)

So I pop into Tools, and down to Evaluate Links, and watch Link Evaluator perform its colorful magic. Here’s where automated tools are great: it’s fast. It’s easy. Here’s where automation is not so great, or at least can’t stand on its own without human intervention: it’s not always accurate. I am dying to know what Stephanie meant by “not traditional, but devastating,” but the link to the devastating mittens only goes to a “page or resource not found” page. Yet the link highlight is green–admittedly, a slightly pale green, but still green.

It may be that tinkering with the settings of LE will allow it to pick up more problem pages, and no tool is perfect…especially one that is free…but it’s another example of how automated tools can’t replace human intervention and quality control.


WorldCat Local

April 17, 2007 at 5:17 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The nice people at LibraryThing (or maybe it’s just one nice person, I’m not sure) have a great post up on their blog about OCLC’s recent WorldCat Local announcement.


They’ll make one big silo and set the rules for access. The pattern is already clear. MIT thought that its bibliographic records were its own, but OCLC shut them down when they tried to act on that. The fact is, libraries with their data in OCLC are subject to OCLC rules. And since OCLC’s business model requires centralizing and restricting access to bibliographic data, the situation will not improve.


I really agree with this, and also with LT’s point that OCLC is full of good people doing really good work.  But it seems that OCLC has a business model which allows it to own the data that libraries create about their collections.  How much is this limiting access on the Web?  How much is it limiting access by small libraries who can’t afford OCLC membership?


Also, love the graphic.

Brief thoughts on new CONSER standards

April 9, 2007 at 2:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New standards draft here

1. 130 uniform title: apparently they are doing away with the “distinguishing” u.t. altogether? (except for the 2 minor exceptions noted). Interesting! I think this is a terrible idea for newspapers, among other things–a u.t. is so helpful when you are looking at 15 records for the “Morning star” and trying to tell which one came from Wilmington without having to open all the records and examine multiple fields.

2. 246 indicators: wow, doing away with the indicators that tell if it is a cover title, running title, etc. On the one hand: yay, this will make it easier to catalog. And maybe serials allow their titles to hop around so much it doesn’t really matter to catalogers where you transcribed it from for one issue (if the running title turns up again as a spine title later, etc.). On the other hand: the indicators are such an elegant way of communicating information concisely. Also, knowing the source of an alternate title might really help a cataloger identify what they have in hand (esp. if it’s an isolated issue). Catalogs are for catalogers, too! And is it really that hard to code the indicators correctly if you have a little cheat sheet tacked up on the wall in front of you? I think not.

3. 362 capitalization/abbreviations: I’m not too het up about standard AACR2 abbreviations/capitalization being abandoned. Though I wonder if there are future searching/data manipulation needs that could be compromised by less standardization here.

4. DBO note: “Description based on” now required for all records! This doesn’t seem like a bad idea–you can look at the record and not have to *infer* that the description was based on the first issue. (Though I still think it would be better to keep uniform titles, if we’re concerned about helping catalogers work efficiently…)

5. 538: wow, 538 now optional for CDROMs in some cases. Wish this was clearer–maybe there will be examples that make this clear. I forsee this becoming a “Well, should I include it in this case or not??” headache.

6. 546 is replacing 041 for some purposes.

7. 550 not required simply to justify added entries. Hmm–not sure how I feel about abandoning the “justify added entries” thing. Might be more efficient, might be a pain down the road when we wish we understood where that entry came from. But I guess we would have to include 550s if there aren’t existing authority records, since we aren’t NACO members and wouldn’t be able to create the auth recs, and thus would need either 245$c or 550?

8. Linking fields: wow, prefer linking fields to notes that duplicate them–776$i instead of 530. Probably a positive thing if we can all remember what the subfields mean.

9. 856: “Local URIs or password-protected URIs should not be recorded in the national-level record” which means the hassle of either a) adding the url in the local catalog only or b) putting it in the MFHD or something like that instead. And how exactly do you distinguish between a “local URI” (why do I always read that as “UTI”?) and a “trusted archive”? Is our site a “trusted archive”? Maybe. But state agency sites might not be.

I can see arguments either way for this. Fewer dicey urls: less maintenance, fewer annoying dead links down the road. But also: less access in the short term (for all but users of the local catalog), plus the aforementioned difficulty on the part of catalogers in making the decision. Hmp.

10. p. 16: does this mean that the “create a new bib record when the body in 110 changes name” rule is gone? I’m not quite clear on this.


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