Tag Archives: library science

Alphabet Soup: A Librarian’s Guide to Acronyms

One of the most important things I’ve learned as a Library and Information Studies student is how to navigate the lingo of the profession, which includes a dizzying array of acronyms. If it all starts to look like a bowl full of alphabet soup, here’s a (certainly nowhere near exhaustive) list of a few acronyms you can you use next time you want to impress a librarian!

A

AACR2 – Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, 2nd ed. – National standards for cataloging rules first published in 1967 and now succeeded by Resource Description and Access (RDA).

ACRL – Association of College & Research Libraries – The largest division of the American Library Association (ALA), comprised of academic librarians from institutions like Florida State University Libraries.

C

CCO – Cataloging Cultural Objects – Guidelines for cataloging cultural objects, such as works of art, architecture, and historical artifacts.

D

dcexample
Dublin Core description of an item in the FSCW Scrapbooks Digital Exhibit.

DACS – Describing Archives: A Content Standard – The content standard used for describing archival collections, which expands upon AACR2 but provides additional guidelines for describing unpublished materials, such as personal papers and manuscript collections.

DC – Dublin Core – A set of vocabulary terms, originally based on a set of 15 elements (Title, Creator, Subject, Description, Publisher, Contributor, Date, Type, Format Identifier, Source, Language, Relation, Coverage, and Rights), that can be used to describe resources such as webpages and digital images. It is a very simple framework, but it can be combined with other metadata standards to control vocabularies. Dublin Core standards were applied to items in the digital exhibit That I May Remember: the Scrapbooks of Florida State College for Women (1905-1947). Shown at right, an image is described using the Title, Subject, and Description elements.

E

EAD – Encoded Archival Description – A markup schema which allows us to encode DACS descriptions and make them appear as nice, neat, human-readable web documents on the Finding Aid Database.

F

FRBR – Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records – A conceptual model that seeks to help users make sense of bibliographic records by defining relationships between entities. For example, if a patron is looking for a signed edition of Darwin’s Origin of Species, FRBR recognizes a hierarchal relationship between the work (the abstract vision of the work created in Darwin’s head), the expression (Darwin’s vision expressed in words), the manifestation (Darwin’s words published in a specific form – a book), and the item (the unique signed edition of Origin of Species held by FSU Special Collections & Archives) that the patron is searching for.

G

GIS – Geographic Information System – A system for analyzing, manipulating, and displaying geographic data that offers exciting possibilities for aiding access to library collections.

H

HTML – HyperText Markup Language – the language that provides structure to web pages.

I

ILS – Integrated Library System – The data management system that seeks to integrate all the different functions of the library.

ISBN – International Standard Book Number – A unique identification number given to every edition of a book.

ISSN – International Standard Serial Number – A unique identification number given to periodical publications.

L

LCSH – Library of Congress Subject Headings – A controlled vocabulary for subject headings created by the Library of Congress.

M

marcexample
Excerpt of a MARC record. The standard catalog entry can be viewed here.

MARC – Machine-Readable Cataloging – A standard for encoding metadata that was developed in the 1960s as libraries made the transition from card catalogues to computers. MARC records use a system of data fields with alphanumeric tags, indicators, and subfield codes to create bibliographic descriptions. Seen without the help of the OPAC’s display interface, a MARC record might be mistaken by the untrained eye for the opening credits of a Keanu Reeves movie (as seen above left).

MODS – Metadata Object Description Schema – A metadata schema that is more complex than Dublin Core but simpler than MARC. It uses language-based tags (i.e. titleInfo, language, relatedItem) that are much more intuitive to understand than the MARC data fields seen above.

N

NLP – Natural Language Processing – a method of computer processing that seeks to improve information retrieval by studying the nuances of language in free text searches. Instead of searching by keywords, NLP seeks to understand the semantics of what a searcher is really asking for.

O

OCLC – Online Computer Library Center – The largest bibliographic network in the world, which links databases of records from libraries all across the world.

OPAC – Online Public Access Catalog – When you perform a catalog search at lib.fsu.edu, you are harnessing the power of the OPAC.

R

RDA – Resource Description and Access – As of 2010, the successor of AACR2. A standard for cataloging based on FRBR.

T

TEI – Text Encoding Intiative – A schema that provides guidelines for encoding texts for use in digital humanities.

X

XML – eXtensible Markup Language – A markup language used in metadata applications such as MODS.

Learning about the Library Profession

Dodd Hall Library, c. 1964
Dodd Hall Library, c. 1964.  See here for more information

In addition to my work as a Graduate Assistant in the Special Collections & Archives Division, I’m a full time student studying for a Master of Science in Library and Information Science at The School of Information at Florida State University.  As a Graduate Assistant, I’ve been able to apply the academic knowledge gained from my library classes to the different projects I’ve worked on as a Graduate Assistant in Special Collections & Archives.  Additionally, my work in Special Collections & Archives has given me a richer, more practical understanding of the opportunities and challenges that librarians face today.

As a graduate student, I’m gaining the knowledge needed to succeed in the library profession.  I’ve taken a number of great courses, but some of the classes that have been particularly relevant to my work in Special Collections are the following:

LIS 5703 Information Organization

This is a required course in the School of Information’s Master of Science in Information Science program, and for good reason.  After taking this course, future librarians better understand the theoretical framework for organizing and accessing information.  Much of the first half of the course focuses on the organization of various systems–such as article databases, like JSTOR, and the FSU Libraries online catalog.  Understanding how records are organized in the library catalog means that I’m better able to help Special Collections patrons find the information they need.  Sometimes patrons only have a vague idea of what they need, or a topic they’re researching and are not aware of all the resources Special Collections has to offer.  And while I might not be an expert in every area that Special Collections encompasses, as a librarian, I am able to find you the resources that that you need.

This course also introduces the concept of metadata, or “data about data.”  Understanding the administrative role that metadata plays in the access and retrieval of a resource was essential for the work I did with the Digital Library Center, in which I digitized 12 issues of The Girl’s Own Annual , and made those issues available to the broader community through FSU’s Digital Library.  You can find out more about that project from this blog post.

LIS 5472 Digital Libraries

This is an elective in the School of Information, and provides students with the guiding principles behind the construction and management of a digital library.  This course also provides students with some “hands on” experience.  Using the open source platform Omeka, students in this class create their own small-scale digital library.  There has been a lot of overlap between my classwork for Digital Libraries and the work I’ve done as a Graduate Assistant.  For my second project as a GA in Special Collections, I created an online exhibit with the platform Omeka, which can be found at fscwscrapbooks.omeka.net.

HIS 5082 Introduction to Archives

Because it is my hope to continue working in a Special Collections & Archives department after graduating, I wanted to take the opportunity to take formal coursework in archival science.  This course is offered through the History Department, and is taught at the State Archives of Florida.  My work in Special Collections & Archives provided me with a solid foundation to start with, to which this course has given me a richer understanding of the principles that guide an archivist’s work.

LIS 5511 Management of Information Collections

One major focus of this class was the Collection Development Policy, the formal document which guides a library’s collecting policies.   As a GA, one of my projects this semester has been to make an initial assessment of various rare book donations, according to FSU Special Collections & Archives procedures.  Understanding the role and purpose of a Collection Development Policy has been helpful in understanding the process for donation to cataloged item.

This is just a sample of the coursework I’ve completed for my Master of Science in Library and Information Science.  It has been a privilege to apply the knowledge I’ve gained in my classes to my work as a Special Collections & Archives Graduate Assistant.  Moreover, working as a Graduate Assistant has given me a better understanding of the practical applications of the knowledge I’ve gained.

Rebecca L. Bramlett is a graduate assistant in the Special Collections & Archives Division.  She is working on her Master of Library and Information Science at Florida State University.