Author Archives: nlsles

More on FAST

In building subject terms in authority file, one decision has to be made in dealing with compound subjects is precoordination vs postcoordination. In precoordinated system, the indexer or cataloguer predetermines the combination of topic terms to be used as index terms or headings. In postcoordinated system, the indexer or cataloguer uses single topic terms to be the index terms or headings. FAST is using the postcoordination approach as the syntax of the subject terms.

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FAST (Faceted Application of Subject Terminology) is a service from OCLC. It is a ‘remake’ version of LCSH.

“The Library of Congress Subject Headings schema (LCSH) is by far the most commonly used and widely accepted subject vocabulary for general application. It is the de facto universal controlled vocabulary and has been a model for developing subject heading systems by many countries. However, LCSH’s complex syntax and rules for constructing headings restrict its application by requiring highly skilled personnel and limit the effectiveness of automated authority control. Recent trends, driven to a large extent by the rapid growth of the Web, are forcing changes in bibliographic control systems to make them easier to use, understand, and apply, and subject headings are no exception. The purpose of adapting the LCSH with a simplified syntax to create FAST is to retain the very rich vocabulary of LCSH while making the schema easier to understand, control, apply, and use. The schema maintains upward compatibility with LCSH, and any valid set of LC subject headings can be converted to FAST headings…..

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Metadata Service

Excerpt from “What the heck is a metadata service?”

The outcry regarding the Harvard Library’s restructuring brings to light the vulnerability of traditional technical services librarians.

…. Let’s re-frame and say we have a mandate to turn metadata services into *more visible*public services.

So what do we mean by that?  Obviously, the next-gen metadata services are not the standard metadata services we’ve grown accustomed to in academic libraries (i.e descriptive cataloging in MARC for our ILS, in DC for our repositories, DACS for archives, authority work, holdings work, etc.).  These traditional services are not going away, let’s get that clear.  Original cataloging will remain a large part of the work of huge libraries with lots of original monographs.  The rest of us will keep doing traditional acquisitions, copy cataloging, etc.  We must continue providing these services but they will take a lesser and lesser role.  You understand the trend towards automating as much as possible in cataloging if you’ve been awake for the past 15 years.   Observe academic libraries obtaining more and more electronic resources with record sets we manipulate in batch.  This is what the FBI calls a clue.   As we automate the old functions, we make room for doing the new functions of a Metadata Services Group.

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Some said the current OPAC is just a computerised version of card catalogue.  Just look at the sequence of information displayed in most of the OPACs. Most of them are based on the sequence of marc tags, which are closely following AACR2, which derived from ISBD.

If we agree the information of content is important to the users than the information of the embodiment of content, why should the subject information be displayed after the publication statements, the extent description, and even the notes.

There are always something we can do to make our work more meaningful.  We don’t have to wait until the big movement to come, the system vendors to change, the leaders from the library community agree to change.  If we don’t care about the outcome of our work, then…

Alternate resources of MARC21

If you are looking for some handy guides of MARC21, here you are:

MARC Concise Formats (2012 Edition) available to download as PDF

– Table of Contents [PDF, 24 KB]
– General Introduction [PDF, 27 KB]
– Bibliographic [PDF, 765 KB]
– Authority [PDF, 387 KB]
– Holdings [PDF, 231 KB]
– 2012 Changes [PDF, 15 KB]

MARC 21 Bibliographic Format Field List. Electronic list of fields, subfields, and values only. Includes all data elements in Official version and obsolete fields, indicators, subfields, and values.

MARC 21 Authority Format Field List. Electronic list of fields, subfields, and values only. Includes all data elements in Official version and obsolete fields, indicators, subfields, and values.

Subject Analysis

Subject analysis is the most challenging part in cataloguing or metadata creation.  Let us see how difficult it is.

Subject analysis normally include the process of determine 1) the subject matter of the information package and 2) determine the appropriate terms to describe the subject matters from the controlled vocabulary lists.

What are the problems in process 1:
We have to find out from the information packages:
1. What is it?
2. What is it for?
3. What is it about?

To answer question 1, we have to find out the fundamental form (the categories) of the knowledge (e.g. sociology) of the information package.  To answer question 2, we have to find out the motivation of creation of the information packages: for who, for what purpose?  To answer the question 3, we have to find out the topics being discussed.  Topics are everyday has a social and time factor.

[Source: Subject Analysis.  Chapter 9 in The Organization of Information by Arlene G. Taylor.  2nd ed.]

What is an ontology?

What is an ontology?

Ontology plays a key role in knowledge management.  It is also a critical component in the Semantic Web or Linked Data.  This video will help you to understand what ontology is:

ISBD and Bibliographic Elements

The Birth of ISBD

The International Standard Bibliographic Descriptions date back to 1969, when the IFLA Committee on Cataloguing sponsored an International Meeting of Cataloguing Experts. This meeting produced a resolution that proposed the creation of standards to regularize the form and content of bibliographic descriptions. As a result, the Committee on Cataloguing put into motion work that ultimately would provide the means for a considerable increase in the sharing and exchange of bibliographic data. This work resulted in the concept of the International Standard Bibliographic Description (ISBD).

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