Scalability

Recently on the This Week in Tech podcast (twit.tv), I heard an interesting comparison of a difference between Apple and Google. In reference to the Apple App Store, one of the commentators said that Apple’s model was to have the equivalent of a giant room full of employees doing nothing but manually approving each […]

Comparison of cataloging schemes

With the end of the semester upon us, I’m reposting some material from my class discussion boards before they vanish into the ether.

Dublin Core

DC is built not just to fit current technology but also the current technological climate of openness and collaboration. DC reminds me of Drupal, an open source CMS. DC’s […]

Thomas Mann: “On the record” but off the track

Mann, T. (2008). “On the record” but off the track: a review of the report of the library of congress working group on the future of bibliographic control, with a further examination of library of congress cataloging tendencies.

Mann understates capabilities (and potential) of tags and keywords, but his conclusion that they should supplement, not replace, LCSH is well argued and probably right.  (Even if I can’t help but hear an old man complaining about that newfangled “Rock & Roll” in my head when I read him.) Continue reading Thomas Mann: “On the record” but off the track

Peter J. Rolla: User Tags versus Subject Headings: Can User-Supplied Data Improve Subject Access to Library Collections?

Rolla, P. J. (2009). User Tags versus Subject Headings: Can User-Supplied Data Improve Subject Access to Library Collections? Library Resources & Technical Services, 53(3), 174-184.

Like Merliese, et al., Rolla only compares most popular titles, which limits the applicability of his findings to less popular library holdings.

Today’s library users, who are increasingly comfortable with searching on the Internet, have certain expectations about how to search for information and how it will be displayed. These expectations, however, do not match how information is contained, discovered, and presented in traditional library catalogs. A recent study, for example, found that students using the University of Oklahoma’s online public access catalog (OPAC) performed keyword searches fourteen times more often than subject searches.1 In addition to a reliance on keyword searching, today’s users increasingly use interactive websites that allow them to both upload their own data or content and to connect with other users of the site—the Web 2.0 phenomenon (174).

Providing subject access to collections, therefore, is an expensive part of cataloging work, since it is time-consuming and usually performed by professional staff (175).

User tags would also permit patrons to personalize the library’s website (175)

User tags do nothing to solve the problems of polysemy and synonymy, whereas one of the main purposes of controlled vocabularies is to disambiguate polysemous words and choose preferred terms from groups of synonyms (175).

Continue reading Peter J. Rolla: User Tags versus Subject Headings: Can User-Supplied Data Improve Subject Access to Library Collections?

Marliese Thomas, Dana M. Caudle and Cecilia M. Schmitz: To tag or not to tag?

Thomas, M., Caudle, D. M., & Schmitz, C. M. (2009). To tag or not to tag? Library Hi Tech, 27(3), 411 – 434. doi:10.1108/07378830910988540

The purpose of this article is to provide a quantitative analysis of the extent to which folksonomies replicate the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) to see if folksonomies would successfully complement cataloger-supplied subject headings in library catalogs (411).

The authors studied a small sample of very popular books.  Their conclusions may not have application to scholarly collections and/or the long tail of less popular books in browsing collections.  On the other hand, their work provides very clear evidence for the advantages tagging can offer to items that receive many tags.

Continue reading Marliese Thomas, Dana M. Caudle and Cecilia M. Schmitz: To tag or not to tag?

The Changing Nature of the Catalog : A Response to Calhoun, Mann, and Yee

The Changing Nature of the Catalog – A Response to Calhoun, Mann, and Yee (PDF)

The central premise of Calhoun’s report is that technology has “created an era of discontinuous change in research libraries—a time when the cumulated assets of the past do not guarantee future success” (2006, p. 5).  Calhoun’s perspective is that this notion applies directly to traditional library cataloging.  Yee argues that traditional cataloging is fundamental to the value of libraries (2007).  Mann makes the case that research libraries’ primary mission is to serve the specific needs of serious scholarship (2006).  Each is right in their own way.  Mann and Yee, though, fail to recognize the changes that the coming of the Information Age has wrought on the world outside libraries.  Far too much valuable information is outside the reach of traditional catalogs.  Libraries must embrace technology to extend the grasp of catalogs beyond local holdings.

Continue reading The Changing Nature of the Catalog: A Response to Calhoun, Mann, and Yee

Martha M. Yee: Will The Response Of The Library Profession To The Internet Be Self-Immolation?

Yee, M. M. (n.d.). Will The Response Of The Library Profession To The Internet Be Self-Immolation? Special Libraries Cataloguing, Inc.

All this because some research studies show that undergraduates prefer to use Amazon.com and Google rather than libraries and their catalogs. … The excuse used, the preference on the part of undergraduates for quick answers, is nothing new. Undergraduates have always tended to over-use ready reference sources

Yee seems to think that belittling a position is the same as rebutting it.  It is a profound mistake to minimize the internet by simply categorizing it as “ready reference.”  The net is an unparalleled source of quick information, of course, but it’s also a far, far more vast domain than Yee’s dismissive sentence would imply.  The internet runs the full gamut, from “ready reference” to online periodicals to serious scholarship to raw data.

I could be wrong, but I suspect that the preference for “Amazon.com and Google” and the like over catalogs is not so much split between undergrads and more advanced scholar, per se, but between younger people and their elders.  As internet-native generations become scholars and older generations depart, which way will the trend go?  Will libraries stay ahead of the curve?

Continue reading Martha M. Yee: Will The Response Of The Library Profession To The Internet Be Self-Immolation?

Karen Calhoun: The Changing Nature of the Catalog and its Integration with Other Discovery Tools

Preface:

I found this wonderful quote in the midst of writing the below entry. I think it’s wonderfully apropos to the discussion.

Those who assume hypotheses as first principles of their speculations … may indeed form an ingenious romance, but a romance it will still be. –Roger Cotes, Preface to Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica, Second Ed., 1713 (though I found the quote in Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver)

Calhoun, K. (2006). The Changing Nature of the Catalog and its Integration with Other Discovery Tools. Prepared for the Library of Congress.

[Technology has] created an era of discontinuous change in research libraries—a time when the cumulated assets of the past do not guarantee future success. …  The catalog is in decline, its processes and structures are unsustainable, and change needs to be swift. … Notwithstanding widespread expansion of digitization projects, ubiquitous e-journals, and a market that seems poised to move to e-books, the role of catalog records in discovery and retrieval of the world’s library collections seems likely to continue for at least a couple of decades and probably longer (p.5).

Continue reading Karen Calhoun: The Changing Nature of the Catalog and its Integration with Other Discovery Tools