RDA Treaties (April 2014)

So the instructions for access points for treeaties changed significantly with the April update to Research Description and Access (see the LC Summary of RDA Updates for April 2014 Update of the RDA Toolkit).

To summarize the biggest changes are:

  • Treaties, etc. is no longer the preferred title for treaties. Instead the preferred title is the name of the treaty in an official source, legal literature or other official designation (RDA
  • The signatory doesn’t form part of the authorized access point for both multilateral and bilateral treaties. (RDA
    • NOT: 110 1# Canada. ǂt Treaties, etc. ǂd 1992 October 7
    • NOW: North American Free Trade Agreement ǂd (1992 October 7)
    • NOT: Malaysia. ǂt Treaties, etc. ǂg United States, ǂd 2006 July 28
    • NOW: Treaty Between the United States of America and Malaysia on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters ǂd (2006 July 28)
  • Some other things to note include:
    • Source of the name of the treaty is in order to let you name the treaty in a logical manner.
    • Capitalization should follow guidance as mentioned in the RDA Appendix A.18 Names of Documents.
    • Variant access points should be added through the signatories (RDA

So how about an example:

010    no2014066728
040 ## NcD-L ǂb eng ǂe rda ǂc NcD-L
046 ## ǂk 18801117
130 #0 Treaty Between the United States and China, Concerning Immigration
       ǂd (1880 November 17)
377 ## eng
380 ## Treaties ǂ2 lcsh
410 1# United States. ǂt Treaty Between the United States and China,
       Concerning Immigration ǂd (1880 November 17)
410 1# China. ǂt Treaty Between the United States and China, Concerning Immigration
       ǂd (1880 November 17)
430 #0 Treaty Concerning the Immigration of Chinese ǂd (1880 November 17)
430 #0 Angell Treaty ǂd (1880 November 17)
670 ## Treaty, laws, and regulations governing the admission of Chinese, 1906:
       ǂb page 3 (Treaty Between the United States and China, Concerning
       Immigration; Treaty Concerning the Immigration of Chinese; Concluded
       November 17, 1880; ratification advised by Senate May 5, 1881; ratified
       by the President May 9, 1881; ratification exchanged July 19. 1881;
       proclaimed October 56, 1881; 22 Stat. 826)
670 ## United States statutes at large, volume 22 (1864-1883): ǂb page 826
       (Treaty between the United States and China, concerning immigration)
670 ## Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State, viewed May 13, 2014:
       ǂb content (In 1880, the Hayes Administration appointed U.S. diplomat
       James B. Angell to negotiate a new treaty with China. The resulting
       Angell Treaty permitted the United States to restrict, but not
       completely prohibit, Chinese immigration) 
       ǂu http://history.state.gov/milestones/1866-1898/chinese-immigration

Some things to note:


Authorized Access Points

I’ve been using RDA for original cataloging since October 2012 at MPOW. With authority records things have been great. There is a lot more flexibility to add and not add things. One hangup is the transition period where records need to be evaluated. Some weirdnesses I’ve encountered have been titles of nobility see: 100 1# Vitzthum, Wolfgang, $c Graf.

Other issues include media types for streaming media. Actually digital files in general are handled poorly. Everything needs a carrier. What exactly is the carrier for a file that is sitting on filesystem in the cloud?

338 ## other $2 rdacarrier

or perhaps if it is published:

338 ## online resource $2 rdacarrier

The file characteristics get handled elsewhere; not a terribly horrible thing, but not exactly intuitive.

More thoughts later.

Future of (Universal?) Bibliographic Control

I tossed in the universal part because that was the underlaying promise of over forty of years of work by the library community. In a sense what we have now is a result of that aim. From IBSD, MARC, AACR2, FRBR and the rest of the alphabet soup has been a soupcon of hope that one day we’d have the systems and standards which would lead to one record done internationally for any work. I was reminded of this when I heard Michael Gorman talk at the American Association of Law Libraries annual meeting in New Orleans this past week, which is another story on to itself.

Of course the world is complicated and we live in a Babel of a bibliographic (or now more precisely descriptive) universe. So for my part here is what I feel still needs to be done. There has been obviously, with the Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control, either an attempt at a search for next steps and a vision of how things should be (or as the cynics and skeptics see it an attempt for political cover with making some really difficult choices).

So my laundry list, or more possibly wish list which really concentrates on the bibliographic utilities (read: OCLC) since that is the pointy end of the spear that most catalogers do their work and where most of our data eventually ends up.

  • Authorizing national enhance editing on a larger scale. In a sense distributing more of the work into more hands. Wikis work with the wisdom of crowds. Records aren’t sacred, they are wrong and incomplete the barrier to fixing things should be minimal. Shouldn’t cataloging on a more expansive model work with the wisdom and experience of trained catalogers?
  • Lowering the bar to getting back enhanced records for use and reuse. Sure I see that services like OCLC’s PromptCat have been successful for a lot of libraries, but the I think the ongoing costs have been a bit to too much for some to swallow. This should be something that all our bibliographic systems should be taking advantage of. Along with this comes the thought that records don’t need to be perfect the first time they come in, but that tendency comes because its an expensive operation to go back. Going back and benefiting from the work that others do behind you in the processing stream needs to be cheaper, faster and easier.
  • There needs to be a better incentivisation of the entire record creation, enhancing and reconsumption process. Sure we’ve brought our vendors into the process, and obviously there is now pressure on publishers to push more out upstream. But seems like it has been difficult get library administrators, systems, catalogers all pulling in the same direction with this.
  • More training and implementation support throughout the library community. My sense of things has been that things worked OK so far. But we really need to be taking advantage of new ways to distribute training and support to everyone who wants it. This has to be cheaper and easier.

Is there an emerging consensus on the future and what to do to do with bib control? I don’t know.

Subject Heading Validation

Bouncing around on the PCClist:

As announced in the CDS bulletin of May 25 2007 http://www.loc.gov/cds/notices/2007-05-25-Subject_Authority_Validation_Records.pdf CPSO has begun a project to create subject authority records for every subject string appearing in bibliographic records to aid Library of Congress catalogers, and external users in the validation of LCSH subject heading strings. Effective immediately subject authority records are being created for valid subject strings obtained from bibliographic records. Formerly, these subject strings did not prompt the creation of subject authority records, because they contained free-floating subdivision[s].

Some of these records are being created manually by the Cataloging Policy and Support Office staff, and some will be generated by machine, but all of them will be reviewed before distribution occurs. We anticipate at least 200 records per month at the start of this project. These records will NOT be printed in the annual editions of LCSH (the “red books”). The records can be identified by the legend “[proposed validation record]” appearing at the end of the 1xx string. This legend will be removed once the records have been approved and distributed. Additionally each record will contain a 667 field with this data: “Record generated for validation purposes.”

This is actually really cool. If you are getting a distribution of the entire subject authority file you’ll eventually be able to validate against entire subject headings rather than piecing together from individual subfields.

This also is really good from a subject cataloging point of view because we’ll be able to just pull a valid string from the file rather than saying … is this geographically subdivideable … is this one usable under a war or only animals and plants etc. A lot of individual decisions can be taken out and we can concentrate on what the book is about rather than trying to remember arcane subdivision usage rules and notes.

What isn’t clear is the source from where the subject headings will be pulled from. I’m curious if they are going to limit to the set of records that are DLC only and thus limit to DLC practice or will they include PCC records too. One reassuring things is that the individual subject headings will be subject to review. And one last point is you won’t see these headings in the weekly lists and in the red books, since really they are meant for plumbing.

Economics and Organization of Bibliographic Data

In the background paper for the third meeting of the Library of Congress’ Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control there are a series of questions that the meeting requests comment on. One of them stood out for me:

4) A recurrent theme of the previous meetings was more fully integrating bibliographic data (such as MARC records, terminologies, authority files, et al.), which currently exist as “data silos,” into the fabric of the World Wide Web. In particular, terminologies and authorities were seen as important resources that could be used in a variety of ways. From a design perspective, how do we move from “data silos” to “data services,” that increase the potential value of bibliographic data by treating them as interconnected resource collections, addressable via URIs and accessible over Web protocols? Organizationally, how might this goal be accomplished, supported, and maintained? Economically, what factors need to be considered?

We’ve been talking around this.

Much of the discourse until now has been of the nature, “Wouldn’t it be great if … LCC was available in an open web service … MARC went away … webify our infrastructure … get rid of catalogers … have better OPACS.”

So what makes a silo? I’m pretty sure I can speak for everyone and say we (libraries) want to be relevant in the information future. How have we backed ourselves into a corner? And what exactly is that corner?

I am kind of suspicious of talk about all silos being bad. I think there can be an argument made on the behalf of silos. Silos exist for a reason, the information needs of a community are different. Then again there is probably a stronger argument that our silos exist because of the way we have acquired, collected, organized, and developed resources with our vendors and within our libraries.

Who do I see as the custodian, maintainer, of the bibliographic future of web services, standards, and open data? So who are the players:

So … who has been actually doing anything?

The distinct impression I get with LC is that they are initiating this entire process because there is a crisis in scalability and more importantly severe budgetary pressures. Are they really going to take, and more imporantly be capable of making the next steps? Including drastic organization changes, significant changes in legislation to make things happen, and of course dealing everything that being a Federal agency entails?

OCLC? Is the cooperative really moving in that direction? I get a sense they are. Worldcat.org is supposed to open up more later in the year. But is this the right direction? We’re actually talking about a different beast, opening up and revealing a lot more of the plumbing for a whole host of applications that we can only just begin to imagine. I actually have heard very little comment from their representatives from the meeting summaries. In my mind OCLC is probably the place where the organization, support and funding will be headed. This is something that member libraries, need and appear to want.

ARL has a stake, but being the plumbers of our bibliographic future isn’t in their charge.

The search corporations? Are they thinking in a long enough horizon here. Google probably, I’m not really sure what Microsoft was bringing to the table (they are listed as having a representative).

Our library system vendors? I don’t think they are that interested in selling us a new way of doing things that may very well put them all out of business?

So … do we need a new organization to do this? This organization will just not have to be a big player in making standards happen. But would also have to create systems, get people to buy into them, provide services over a very long horizon, and be a good custodian of our cataloging as a “public good”. I don’t think we will have to reinvent the wheel, especially with things happening in Internet time, but it might be necessary.

One last thought, my hunch is that moving forward with the opening up of bibliographic data will cost a bunch, but … I think in the long run it will pay for itself in terms of improved retrieval, resource sharing, new opportunities created, and just plain coolness. The alternative is even more irrelevance of libraries and their staggering collections.

Of course … anyone have hard numbers, I would be curious to see some real calculations or studies. Heck, a methodology would be a start. I’m not sure what would be a comparable situation, or how you can calculate value for metadata, and the wealth it in turn provides access to, or creates in new knowledge.

Hits the nail on head

Terry Reese wrote an entry on a conversation taking place on the AUTOCAT mail list.

Really the win in moving past MARC is some sort of standardization of cataloging data beyond the babel that exists in the MARC world, human readable catalog records (780? 538? 043?, WTF?), and the use of all the goodies that the rest of the world has developed since we started automating our libraries.