Catalogers work behind the scenes in the library. We’re usually found in our very quiet building, examining books, checking over bibliographic records, or typing lines of code. The catalog records that we work on are mostly used by people whom we will never meet. But the Cataloging & Description department occasionally receives questions from researchers, and those questions help explain why we put certain pieces of information into our records.
For example, we recently got a question about the historical theses and dissertations that we catalog. A researcher compiling a bibliography of theses and dissertations for The Hymn Society found the record for a thesis or dissertation written by an FSU student in 1973. The question was: was it a thesis, written for a Master’s degree, or a dissertation, written for a Ph.D.?
As technology has advanced, catalogers have been able to provide an increasing amount of metadata for each item they catalog. We no longer have to limit ourselves to the space of a 3×5-inch catalog card, and changes in our digital platform have allowed us to include more information for electronic resources as well. The record in question had been created in 1976, using older cataloging standards, and it didn’t contain the information that the researcher wanted.
As we’ve been updating the records of historical theses and dissertations to current standards, however, we’ve been including this information in each record. Once we got the question from the researcher, we updated this record as well, so that now anyone looking at the record should be able to see that it’s describing a dissertation, not a thesis.
As FSU students were finishing up their final papers for the semester, at Complex Cataloging we were working on a group of theses and dissertations written by FSU students long ago. Our project involved almost 600 digitized works from graduate and undergraduate students, most of them written between 1920 and 1979. Electronic theses and dissertations are popular items for researchers: as of December 10, 2015, 1,974,053 titles in this category have been downloaded from the institutional repository. We wanted to create records that would make our digitized theses and dissertations available to anyone who needed them.
These student works are windows into the past, giving us a look at a world that no longer exists – a world where the cutting edge of school technology involved typewriting classes and film reels, where many teachers were not allowed to attend the theater, play cards, or dance.
Some of the works that we cataloged were written by teachers and librarians who were already working in the field while finishing their degrees. They wrote about the tensions and problems they had seen in their own schools and communities.
Other works included personal details from contemporary authors that are available nowhere else.
To help make these theses and dissertations part of the Digital Library, we had to come up with a way of creating records for the electronic works based on their print versions. First, an automated process was used to gather the catalog records as a batch. Then, the Complex Cataloging team, along with Amy Weiss, Head of Cataloging and Description, updated and enhanced the catalog records in WorldCat and FSU’s catalog. The records now contain information that will allow researchers to find them in a number of ways, and to know from reading each record whether that work is the one they want. Next, Annie Glerum, Head of Complex Cataloging, developed an XSLT program that was custom tailored for this project, using more updated XPath functions than other similar programs, to transform them into the format used by the Digital Library. Once these records are added to the Digital Library, researchers will have access to these fascinating student works that not only tell us about our history, but also make a contribution to scholarship in many fields.
We continue our introductions of the FSU Special Collections & Archives division with the Cataloging and Description department. This post was written by Amy Weiss, Annie Glerum and Ruth Ziegler.
The Cataloging and Description Department supports the academic programs of Florida State University by organizing and describing print books, e-books, video recordings, streaming video, microforms, maps, and other monographic materials purchased or received by the library. Four librarians, two library specialists and four library support staff catalog 36,000 titles per year following national standards of bibliographic control and in keeping with established cataloging practices and priorities. The department works with Acquisitions to load e-resource packages, which add thousands of records to the library catalog each year. Original records are contributed to OCLC, an international bibliographic database. FSU contributes nearly 1,000 original records per year. The department participates in international cooperative cataloging programs including NACO (Name Authority Cooperative) and SACO (Subject Authority Cooperative) through the Library of Congress. We contribute 500 to 600 records every year to the national authority file. Two units – Complex Cataloging and Authorities/Catalog Management collaborate to create workflows and apply the latest technologies in its routine work and projects.
A sample of new technical work for Cataloging and Description are the ETDs (Electronic Theses and Dissertations). Instead of receiving MARC (Machine-readable Cataloging) records for the ETDs, we receive non-MARC metadata and convert it into MARC so it can be loaded into the online catalog for users to find. Data conversion is also key to another recent job, the London project, where we are processing a file of records that were converted from the Access database the FSU London branch library uses for their local catalog to MARC records for FSU’s main campus catalog. After the records have been processed, they will be loaded in the FSU catalog so that professors and students visiting London will know whether or not they need to bring a given book with them. Librarians Annie Glerum and Yue Li and Library Specialist Dominique Bortmas have been working on these projects.
Remodeling the Dirac Science Library has been a major concern for the University Libraries. When the Libraries received funding for compact shelving, weeding the collection quickly became a priority. Librarian Ruth Ziegler and Library Specialist Nakia Davis collaborated with the University of Florida and worked out a withdrawal plan to remove 62,000 unwanted volumes from the catalog using global change. Reports were given to Collections Access so that they could remove books from the shelves for resale or to discard. Using this method, books did not have to be moved to the Catalog Management unit and there was considerable savings of time and effort.
Rare Books and Special Collections materials are cataloged in Cataloging and Description. When the University Libraries acquired a complete run of books published by the Grove Press Department Head Amy Weiss assembled a team of catalogers (Melissa Burel, Tim Kanke, Valeria Kosmynin and Annie Glerum) and instructed them in Special Collections cataloging. The team was able to get the books cataloged in time for a special event planned around the collection this past spring.
Ordinary cataloging is not what it once was. Cataloging of most English language materials is done in conjunction with vendors who supply both the books and the bibliographic records, as well as physically processing the book with property stamps, security strips, and barcodes. After two years of working with the Coutts/Ingram, we have changed vendors to Yankee Book Peddler (YBP). YBP will supply electronic and print books with accompanying MARC records. We will continue to do quality control checking to make sure all books have full records.
Cataloging and Description loads catalog records for large e-resource packages, e-books and streaming media. This can be a complicated process. FSU is part of the shared State University System (SUS) Libraries catalog. Loading electronic records requires coordination between the schools. Librarian Ruth Ziegler works with FSU’s Apryl Price, E-Resources Librarian and with FALSC (formerly FLVC). Collaboration with the other schools who have purchased the same materials is sometimes necessary when errors occur in batch loading.
There are still some traditional cataloging functions performed in Cataloging and Description. We receive books which are not yet cataloged and which require original or close to original cataloging. Most of these books are in foreign languages, but not all. Many of the books are held by very few United States libraries, with FSU being one of a very few copies held. In cases like these, FSU performs a public service by providing high quality cataloging for these materials so that they can be located by scholars throughout the country.
A traditional cataloging task which is taking on new significance is authority control. Authority control provides the underlying structure of the catalog. It’s something that most users and librarians don’t think about. It’s a very important component in cataloging and the post cataloging process. Authorities are established forms of personal, corporate, conference, geographic names, subjects, uniform titles and series records that link to records in the bibliographic file. This involves using the Library of Congress authority file from which we follow established access points. New access points are set up when there is a conflict in the Library of Congress Name Authority File (NAF). In this way, works by a single author or on a given subject can be found together in the catalog. In current thought about the future of cataloging, authorities will become linked data, which will associate each name or concept with a number or code so that items can be linked out to the web and not just collocated in a catalog. From the traditions of library cataloging, come the innovations of tomorrow.