Category Archives: Uncategorized

JSC on RDA releases statement on proposal to add “transgender” to RDA

JSC discussions on the Fast Track proposal from ALA to add the term “transgender” to the RDA Gender vocabulary have identified the need to review the treatment of personal data in RDA. The broader issues will be discussed more substantively at the the JSC’s meeting in November 2015. Following JSC policy, the ALA proposal must be withheld from the Fast Track process for the next release of RDA Toolkit.

The JSC will discuss the impact of recommending a specific vocabulary for the element in RDA Toolkit on the international, cultural heritage, and linked data communities that are the focus of the future strategy for the development of RDA. At the same time, the RDA Development Team is interested in the need for extensions and refinements of RDA vocabularies for “local” communities, and would be keen to collaborate with ALA in using its requirements as a case study to inform the JSC. This would also build on the updates made to the RDA Registry to accommodate the RDA/ONIX Framework. The JSC would welcome a report on these topics before the middle of October 2015. It would be useful if the report considered issues of vocabulary management as well as content.

-JSC Chair

Reflections on anniversaries

Today I worked through a cataloging procedure that my former director did nearly exactly one year ago. I know this because her initials and timestamp are on the records. She updated VTDNP MARC records last year on Feb. 14, 2014. Now here I am updating practically the same records on Feb. 12, 2015. What’s hitting me hard is that Birdie passed away nearly a month later on Mar. 10, 2014. I like to think that she worked on these records on Valentines Day because she loved newspapers so much.

I haven’t really shared my thoughts about how her passing has affected me, our department, our library. I know that’s why this blog has been silent for the past year. But with the first anniversary less than a month away, it’s hard not to think about how much has changed…and how much is still very much the same.

Special Collections purchased a book in honor of Birdie. I had the honor of cataloging it, and took some liberties with a local 590 note. I’m really thankful I got to do that.

I don’t really want to get into how Birdie was a great librarian, boss, person, etc…I’ve said all that at her funeral and memorial events. But for those of you who knew her, you know that she was great and it’s been a huge loss to the cataloging community. I am so thankful that ALCTS passed a memorial resolution.

Attending conferences for the past year has been awkward. People take one look at my badge, see where I’m from, and the look of sadness in their eyes just breaks me apart. I had one person think that I was Birdie’s replacement and said so to my face. That hurt. I want to thank @slmcdanold for the most real response at #ALAMW15 last month. Sometimes you just need a hug.

I’m thankful that she hired me, trained me, and I got to work with her for 2 short years. Perhaps you saw that we were hiring a Serials and Digital Access Metadata Librarian position? I got to chair the search committee and disappear into that work for 5 months. It nearly broke me. But I got through it and I’m stronger because of it.

As the anniversary date approaches I remind myself that it’s OK to be sad, but remember to be thankful for all the lessons I’ve learned this year. Just how much I’ve grown as a cataloger, manager, leader, and person. Her memory lives on through me, her colleagues, friends, and family. I hold on to that thought and breathe. just breathe.

It’s elementary, dear Watson…or is it?

I was processing my quarterly authorities updates and changes, when I noticed something peculiar. Sherlock Holmes is no longer a fictitious character. Gone is the Holmes, Sherlock (Fictitious character) subject heading, and it is replaced by the simple name authority access point Holmes, Sherlock who wrote a book last year, his (male gender as noted in the 375) fields of activity include criminology and bee culture, and his profession is as a detective.

Is this authority record a joke?!

Sherlock Holmes (r) and Dr. John H. Watson. Illustration by Sidney Paget.

RDA has very clear rules about fictitious characters. Rule to be specific, which states:

Fictitious and Legendary Persons
For a fictitious or legendary person, record Fictitious character, Legendary character, or another appropriate designation.
  • Greek deity
  • Mythical animal
  • Vampire
That little 2013/07 is interesting because it points us back to an earlier edition of RDA that didn’t include a rule for fictitious characters, non-human entities, other important designations that can distinguish a person. Holmes’ new authority record was created on July 16, 2013 (according to OCLC Connexion). So did the rule change after his record was created? But even still, if the rule changed why did LoC move ahead with editing the authority record one of the most influential fictitious characters in western literature?
To make it even more confusing, there’s no trace of the non-preferred access point in the new authority record. So, based on this new authority record, how are people supposed to know that Sherlock Holmes in in fact not a real male who enjoys bee culture and criminology? They can’t, and that’s just confusing. At least Harry Potter and Count Dracula are still fictitious…but for how long?! If we follow RDA closely, we could soon have Potter, Harry (Wizard) and Dracula, Count (Vampire)!
I’d love to hear what you think about the loss of Fictitious characters in our authority file! Please post your comments. Until this all gets sorted out, I’m going to keep Holmes in our catalog just as he is – fictitious.

RDA is here! Nothing to fear!

March 31, 2013 began the big switch from AACR2 to RDA for the Library of Congress. And today, April 1, 2013 my library switches to creating only new RDA records. Hooray!!!


To prepare for RDA, I watched over 12 hours hours of freely available online webinars hosted by ALCTS and the Library of Congress. ALCTS even has a YouTube channel devoted to RDA training! While some of the webinars were tedious and repetitive, they were all very informative. All in all it was incredibly valuable training and absolutely free! No need to hire expensive outside consultants and attend workshops. I easily was able to watch a webinar on my own time and learn the new standard.

Besides needing to learn the new standard myself, I also had to train my staff and update the entire library on the impact of RDA. So I organized three training sessions geared at three different levels:

  • RDA for Original Catalogers
  • RDA for Copy Catalogers
  • RDA for Everyone!

RDA for Original Catalogers focused on FRBR theory and terminology, the organization of RDA and the RDA Toolkit, and finally the practical application of RDA in MARC records. RDA for Copy Catalogers focused some on FRBR theory and terminology, a brief introduction to the RDAToolkit, the core differences between AACR2 and RDA, and the new guidelines for bibliographic verification for RDA records. Finally RDA for Everyone introduced a broad overview to the main differences folks will see in the OPAC.

After my training and then training my staff and colleagues on RDA, I feel very excited about the switch! RDA is absolutely a step in the right direction for the future of cataloging. Cramming it into MARC is one thing, but for now it works well enough. I don’t mind the extra typing, and I actually like the new 264 and 3XX fields. If RDA is the beginning of what’s to come for the future of library cataloging — I’m thrilled to be a part of all these changes.



Best RDA Webinars

Like many of my colleagues, I’m gearing up for the implementation RDA in April. That means training, training, and more training! I’ve tried reading the several books that have been published on RDA, but so far the best way I enjoy learning the new standard is through webinars. The ALCTS webinar archive is a wonderful resource. I’ve watched several of their programs and have found them extremely helpful. Here are my top  five:

  1. Changes from AACR2 to RDA. Part 1 with Adam L. Schiff
  2. Changes from AACR2 to RDA. Part 2 with Adam L. Schiff
  3. Recording RDA Elements in MARC21 Fields in Name Authority Records with Ana Lupe Cristán.
  4. Rare Materials and RDA: Exploring the Issues with Robert L. Maswell and John Attig.
  5. Introduction to RDA with Robert Ellett.




Open source solutions for libraries

This was a presentation that I gave back in April, 2012. I’m not sure why I didn’t publish it sooner, but at least it’s getting up now. In it I explore the concepts of open source software, the advantages and disadvantages of open source software, various types of open source software that are useful for libraries, and there is one little slide that talk about the future of linked open bibliographic data. Enjoy!


Why you should and how you can help your library help itself

Lots of interesting materials come across my desk. Usually it’s miscellaneous Vermontiana or university publications, but today I cataloged a thin booklet produced by the Vermont Free Public Library Service from 1967! It’s called “Why you should and how you can help your library help itself.” This little resource outlines the primary functions of a library and ways librarians can improve their library! It’s amazing how little things have changed from our core mission:

“Besides providing a collection of books tailored specifically to the needs of the community or area it serves, a good library, even a small one, does much more.”–P. [2].

As technology becomes more and more a part of our lives and the library, it’s important to remember that while information carriers change, the purpose of the library does not.

The function of the public library is to assemble, organize, preserve, and make easily and freely available to all people the printed and non-printed materials that will assist them to:

  • Educate themselves continuously
  • Keep pace with progress in all fields of knowledge
  • Become better members of home and community
  • Discharge political and social obligations
  • Be more capable in their daily occupations
  • Develop their creative and spiritual capacities
  • Appreciate and enjoy works of art and literature
  • Use leisure time to promote personal and social well-being
  • Contribute to the grow of knowledge

It’s easy for a librarian to forget this. We’re so often busy negotiating licenses, learning new cataloging rules, planning programs, or simply trying to keep the doors open. So to remind us all of our core values with some simple suggestions, here is a link to the PDF: helpyourlibraryhelpitself