July 2011 Archives

This was one of the most interesting and informative sessions that I attended at the ALA Annual Conference. I liked it because it directly addressed the next big questions for catalogers: now that RDA has been approved, what will happen to MARC? Will RDA kill MARC?

In her presentation Karen Coyle's answer was that MARC will not be killed by RDA; it's about to collapse under its own weight and we can't redeem it. While it was a great invention in its day, MARC has had many long-term problems. To create a MARC record you must follow not only MARC rules but also AACR2 and over the years MARC has become more complicated as we came to use it for more and more formats--first, books, then serials, and so on. MARC can also require the same data to be entered in different fields. (An item's language code should be entered in the 008 and the 041. Some data in the 007 is repeated elsewhere in the same record.) In general, because it has been cobbled together, MARC is not flexible enough to describe the increasingly complicated bibliographic resources that are constantly appearing.

Karen sees the advent of RDA as an opportunity to free our data from the MARC structure. Our goal should be to define data apart from structure and thus enable ourselves to re-use data elements whenever they are needed. With RDA we could code once but display many times. As a first step toward realizing this goal, Karen has taken a do-it-yourself approach. She is creating a database of all the elements currently described by MARC. Her hope is that with this information we will be better able to systematically develop RDA into a flexible means of sharing bibliographic information.

Beginning in 2008 the economic emergency in California has led to severe ongoing reductions in funding for the University of California Libraries' staff and services. In this session Bradford Lee Eden described the libraries' response to this crisis.

The Libraries formed tightly supervised task forces to provide information to higher level administrative decision-makers. The initial groups recommended that the Libraries adopt a financial structure that would cover the entire system. They also suggested that the Libraries move to system-wide acquisitions of shelf-ready materials. That would enable staff to move its focus from print to digital resources.

In the next phase new task forces were formed to develop more options. The Libraries are currently not all using the same ILS, and the task forces considered a recommendation that Libraries convert to one system, but they decided that the expense and disruption involved would make that impractical at this time. They did recommend that to avoid duplication of effort and expense work be done at the network, not local, level in system-wide service centers. In addition, they recommended establishing system-wide standards--for example, that catalogers come to agree on a standard "good enough record" and collection developers agree on standard practices. The task forces also created a list of things to stop doing--e.g. binding journals.

In general, the Libraries found that in order to maximize their effectiveness in providing resources by working as a collective, they had to be careful to clear establish responsibilities and priorities. Eden emphasized that positive attitude combined with willingness to work together and experiment was crucial to the success of their efforts. He believes that that they are not facing a temporary downturn; the world has changed and the good times are not coming back. Everyone must work together to remain for the Libraries to remain viable.

Registration is now open for a series of ALCTS-sponsored webinars on RDA for autumn 2011.

The first webinar examines the report recently issued by the U.S. RDA Test Coordinating Committee--their findings and recommendations on RDA implementation. The remaining sessions introduce viewers to the cataloging of maps, music materials, and legal resources.

Information on registration and fees is available on each of the websites listed above. Register for webinars individually or, for additional savings, all five.

As part of the Minitex 40th Anniversary celebration (July 2011-June 2012), we are interviewing library staff in the region to help tell the story of Minitex and participating libraries. These oral interviews also capture the voice and experience of some of Minnesota's library innovators. Along the way we will be interviewing former and current Minitex staff. Access the new content on the Minitex Oral History Project webpage.

If you visit the Oral History Project webpage now, you can hear from the following individuals:

  • Bill DeJohn, Minitex Director (1984 to present)
  • Suzanne Mahmoodi, Continuing Education Coordinator, Library Development and Services, Minnesota Department of Education (1978-1991)
  • Mary Rae Oxborrow, Reference/ILL Librarian, Plum Creek Library System, (1981-2011) and Minitex Staff, (1969-1980)
  • Mary Treacy, Director, Metronet (1981-1999)
  • Charlene Mason, Minitex Interim Director (1983/1984) and University of Minnesota Libraries (1976-2001)
  • Bill Asp, Minnesota State Librarian (1975-1996)
  • Doris Ott, North Dakota State Librarian (2002-2010)
  • Mike Kathman, Director of Libraries, College of St. Benedict and St. John's University (1980-2006)

Once you click through to an interviewee webpage, you will find a short biographical summary and topics discussed in the interview, an index that lists the questions asked of the interviewee and the approximate time the questions were asked in the recording, a streaming audio version of the recording, and an option to download the recording to listen to on your media player (e.g. iTunes, Windows Media Player).

More interviews will be added throughout the year and we will highlight them through various Minitex communication channels. If you have questions or comments related to the project, contact Sara Ring, Minitex.

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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