Tag Archives: cataloguing

DCRM(B) course – In Newcastle thanks to CILIP and the Rare Books and Special Collections Group

A course I really want to do – actually in Newcastle! (1/4/14)

This all started quite a while ago when the CILIP RBSCG tweeted “Where should we run training outside of London?” and I immediately said “NEWCASTLE!” and offered them a barter – free room for free place?  It all took a while to organise, but eventually today it all came together beautifully.  The course was not just full, it was over subscribed so we stretched it to include another two places and it was everything I needed it to cover.

Instead of all of us going down to London, Hugh Cahill came up from Lambeth Palace Library and Iris O’Brien trekked up from the British Library to give us the high speed, idiot’s guide to DCRM(B).  It was designed for cataloguers who use AACR2/MARC already but want to know how to expand their rare books records to be more informative and useful for their users.  Helpfully, for those of us on a low budget (aren’t we all?) DCRM(B) is available free on this website which is a great start – actually being able to access to rules (unlike the RDA Toolkit – far, far out of my budgetary range but that’s a whole separate discussion).

We started with the Objectives and Principles which I hadn’t ever really properly read, I realised.  I had always leapt straight into DCRM(B) with a specific question of “how do I record this awkward element of X early book” rather than looking at the rules as a whole and understanding the ideas behind it.  So I highly recommend reading through those and actually thinking about the end user that you are cataloguing for rather than just cataloguing it for other cataloguers.

Next up was transcription issues (punctuation, 23 letter alphabet and nasty abbreviations).  I feel I need to check my ISBD punctuation crib sheet and ensure that I have all of those correct too.  Luckily, not many of my books are early enough to have the 23 letter alphabet but apparently there’s a helpful conversion table in the rules for those of us who don’t meet it very often.  Again and again came the need to provide multiple versions of the title in 246 to help users find it without knowing the exact title of the copy in your hand.

So into the 245 field: main lessons were

  • all from the title page
  • No abbreviations
  • Can’t omit any of the first 5 words (really, would you want to??)
  • ALL contributors/authors (no rule of three – also gone in RDA which I feel is a good thing)
  • Do not omit titles of nobility (oops…)
  • Don’t add accents which aren’t in the original (even if they would be there in modern French)
  • If the SoR is grammatically linked to the title (i.e. in genitive case) then you can’t move it.
  • If the author is given elsewhere in the book, don’t put in 245c but DO make a 100/700 access point and a note.

Area 2: Edition (250)

Transcribe EVERYTHING and avoid abbreviations.  Even if it takes several sentences.  And an impression may equate to an edition for handpress books so you might need to include that here too.

Area 4: Publication (260)

Full transcription again.  Prefixes, phrases, addresses, sold by.  The lot.  “Printed at the x for the y near z”.  Multiple 260a’s for all those extra place names but try and maintain the order on the page.  That’s MUCH more than I was previously putting so this was probably the steepest learning curve.  Particularly when they added that we should have the whole date in 260c including the days and months if they give it on the original and any “in the year of” or “anno” text as well.

Added Entries (700)

This was probably my biggest shock/change/sinking feeling moment – you need a 700 (ideally!) for everyone involved in the creation of the book.  The publisher.  The bookbinder.  The bookseller.  Eep!  That’s a lot of extra authority records for our system and a lot of extra added entries.  I can see why; it’s a neat idea for someone tracking everything published/sold/bound by a particular person but it’s just a whole new thing for me to do which I have somehow completely missed.

Formats, Signatures and Cancels

Then after the big shock, came the maths and the practical exercise.  Now maths is not my strong point.  Not even basic arithmetic to be honest so this was tricky.  It was all to do with understanding how the book was put together from folded sheets of big paper.  From hearing the explanation I now know that I would have made a lousy printer as I would have definitely got confused and got my text upside down at least once in every form.  Utterly impossible and I now have a lot more sympathy with printer’s errors. 

We folded a sheet to understand how you get folio, quarto and octavo then we looked at signatures.  No, not the sort you do with a pen to write your name (I thought we had skipped quickly on to provenance at first…) but the little letters at the bottom of a page.  A1, A2, B2 – that kind of thing.  They’re to help the bookbinder get the pages in the right order when they put all the gathers (folded bits of paper) together and we can describe it on a catalogue record.  I would explain further but I haven’t found superscript on here yet which would make it difficult and I’m not sure I’m the best person to describe it.  Try Gaskell instead if you need to know.  Needless to say this is where the maths came in (turns out I can’t multiple 8 by 7…) but I did understand the underlying principles.  And in the handouts there was a handy chart to check whether the number you think you should have according to the signature matched the number given by the page numbers.  Hurrah, someone else did the maths!

Cancels are new corrected leaves inserted because there was an error.  Look for the stub where the original page was cut out, added hints could be if the page didn’t line up or was different paper with the chain lines going the other way.


The physical description should include all leaves including unnumbered sequences.  Also keep that end user in mind; people are often more interested in the provenance, annotations, bindings, stamps and shelf marks than they are in the actual main body of text.  After all, they probably got that online already…

300a: Transcribe the page numbering.  Even lower case or capital roman numerals should match the original.  Add “28 plates (1 folded)” type phrases for illustrative plates.
300b:  What’s an illustration?  A major picture.  Not a printers device.  Can also say what the production process of the illustration was (e.g. woodcut) if you know.
300c: height in cm plus (fol.) (4to) (8vo) in brackets afterwards to record the format.

We covered format earlier in the session although I will admit to still not feeling entirely confident with describing that one.  Perhaps with a little more practise and the helpfully provided cribsheet.  Also, it’s not something which has featured in any of our existing catalogue records so I’m not sure I should start including it.  How useful can it really be to a user?  After all, they know the height of the item so it doesn’t tell them anything extra there.  I think I need to be more convinced of it’s usefulness, particularly as it would take me a great deal of time.

Adverts: include the pages of adverts in your 300a if they are integral to the publication, so if they’re the same pagination (fairly obvious and I would have automatically included them in that case anyway personally) or in the same gathering as text or the same signature sequence.  I also add a 650 in house subject heading of “advertisements” thanks to the number of enquiries I have had relating to adverts for things.  It’s quicker in the long run, believe me!

Volumes: Bibliographic vs Physical.  You’re recording how the publisher issued it, not how some Victorian binder thought it should be later on.  So hence you get “3 vols in 5” where they have been split or “8 vols in 4” where they have been merged.


All the way through the day, both Hugh and Iris said, “and you would add a note about that” and this is where we came to the 500s and all those notes.  So in a whistlestop tour of the 500s we had:

  • Signatures.  Note if considered important – and always for incunables – particularly if your sequence doesn’t match those in the published bibliographies.
  • References (510) – put them in if you have used other sources to provide your info.
  • Subject headings.  Important if the keyword search is limited by archaic terminology and non-standardized spellings.
  • Provenance (561) – give names, what evidence, location in the volume, date (if ascertainable) and relation to the book.  Add 700 headings for any of the people mentioned giving their relationship in 700e and remembering to put in your local library code to show it’s copy specific.  Things like “armorial bookplate of William Marsden on pastedown”.  or “bequest of Mr Smith (booklabel)”. All very helpful if (God-forbid) one of your books gets stolen and you have to prove that it’s that specific copy now on sale down the road….  Good message for senior management: “Good cataloguing is good security”
  • Binding (563) – materials, decoration, fittings, end papers and pastedowns, headbands, date, place, binder’s name, references, repairs.  Quite a long list and don’t forget your local library code again.
  • Other copy specific info (562).  Imperfections/misbindings.  Variants.  Interleaving.  Hand colouring and Bound with (Such as “bound with 17 others, first item is X and spine reads Y”.


The first (very positive) thing Iris had to say about RDA is, you don’t have to do it!  DCRM(B) is a valid standard in it’s own right.  Equally she recognised that many people will be working within institutions which are moving towards RDA and they are working towards DCRM2 which would be a consolidated set of rules (for maps, serials etc as well as books) that would fit in with RDA.  A big job obviously and also hampered by licensing complications as they would like to provide it free online however that’s tricky with copyrighted RDA text.

DCRM(B) only covers the descriptive elements of a catalogue record so you can still happily use RDA access points without calling it a hybrid record.  You can also make hybrid records and there’s some helpful guidance about that here called the BIBCO standard record. It gives the RDA rule number and the MARC code too.  In hybrid records you will follow the transcription rules in DCRM(B) but within an RDA framework so the record must have two 040e’s – dcrmb and rda to show that you’re following two sets of rules.  It means you will have the RDA fields 336, 337 and 338 and you would be using 264 instead of 260 and giving “pages” and “illustrations” in 300.

We finished off with some practical exercises (be warned, if you host one of these you have to find some early example books for everyone to try out their new skills!) and in the process I found out a few new things about items in my collection.  I had no idea, for instance, that one of the plates in my copy of The Natural History of Staffordshire included one plate which was actually a pencil sketch copy of the original – done in 1778.  I had never noticed before!  Clearly shows the importance of checking every plate in a rare book carefully.  I had simply checked that there was something pictorial opposite every page that the index said there was a plate.  Didn’t really look at it any more closely than that.  Seems I now need a 700 entry for the artist (who helpfully signed his work).

So where do I go from here?  I’m planning to revisit my early printed books (which I had to find for course materials anyway so I know where they are) and check that the records are full enough adding more edition, publication information and lots of 700s all round.  Then I will have to look at the Tracts collection and deal with the complications of “bound with” in a major way.  I assume I create one record per item and add a note to say where it physically is.  That seems to be the overriding message – add a note!



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Fifteen – a new goal in life!

A couple of weeks ago a really interesting question came up: “how many books do you catalogue in a day?”  It’s one I’ve been asked before, mainly by fundraisers who were trying to calculate how much they could claim I could achieve.  This time it was another librarian asking – Katie Flanagan and I was really interested to hear the results.

Personally, in the past I guessed, and was always too ambitious…. I’m an optimistic person! Since then, I’ve avoided putting a number on it, saying “well, it depends how many enquiries I have that day” or “well it depends how difficult the book is” or “it depends if they’re all in English” or “it depends how much help the volunteers need that day…”  I tried timing how long it takes me to do a book (10-15 minutes) instead, but then multiplying up tends to forget about all the interruptions in a working day.

I was quite pleased that most other libraries weren’t setting targets (whew!) and interested to discover that the average response was fifteen books a day.  For me, that felt ambitious, but I was interested to see how I “measured up” so this week, I’m counting!  Monday went well – 16 books (but it did snow so the number of walk-in visitors interrupting was lower).  Tuesday, only 10 sadly, despite the continued snow.  Today, well, so far nil so I don’t think the next three hours are going to make a big dint in the To Do pile, but we’ll see.

The even scarier thought is, if I can only do fifteen books a day (on a good day), how long is it going to take me to finish the library?  And that’s just the books.  Not the journals, or the maps or the uncatalogued archives….

Let the cataloguing race commence!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

CIG RDA e-forum training

Over the last two days I have learnt more about RDA than I thought I would for years – and all without even leaving my desk.  Online training is a wonderful thing!  Free online training without any annoying webinar software that crashes every five minutes is even better…

The format was simple, you sign up to the JISCmail list, you look at their examples online, sign up for free RDA toolkit access (if your institution doesn’t already have it) and then do your examples in advance.  Then over the forum days you gradually submit your records and study the differences and discuss.

It was the most entirely free training I have ever done, thanks to the free RDA access, no travel costs and other free online videos etc from organisations like Library of Congress on RDA.  I will say that it took most of my time and attention to keep up with it (although there was a long lunch break which was very helpful) and I was also trying to manage volunteers and users at the same time.  I think next time I might be tempted to follow it in a separate office somewhere, if I can manage to access my email elsewhere…

I was hugely relieved to discover that my attempts at RDA weren’t very different to other people’s and I didn’t seem to be missing anything too fundamental.  I was also calmed by comments that, when squashed into a MARC based LMS, RDA was not going to (initially at least) be so very drastically different from AACR2.  Or, it didn’t have to be, if we didn’t want it to be.

I’m not sure how soon RDA will impact my work in my current role.  We certainly can’t afford a yearly subscription to the toolkit, although I can access a paper copy at another library as an alternative.  We don’t download records so I don’t have to worry about changes at the British Library creating inconsistencies, but I do want to keep us as up to date as I can, and offer users the best catalogue that I can.  I also would love to see our records uploaded to COPAC one day, so I would need to be consistent with their systems.

Some aspects of RDA really appeal to me, and some (such as losing the rule of three and not abbreviating words like “volume”) fit with our existing in-house rules which is not only easy but also comforting that we had the right idea there!

Other bits seem very difficult, especially when combined with MARC and LMS limitations.  I would need to have a long hard look at conferences especially, and I’m not confident with creators/contributors yet either.

Finally some changes just don’t seem like a good idea!  I can’t accept that changing the structure of ISBNs in the catalogue to include spaces, hyphens or text is a good idea.  It would be a huge conflict with all the existing records and simply not computer friendly.  I don’t think I’ll be making that change personally.  But then, I’m creating a system which is neither AACR2 or RDA.  Is that going to be an even larger problem?  Although we had alternative practices from DCRM(B) and in-house rules already so it wouldn’t actually make much difference there.

The training goes on.  Thanks to the Forum I have a further 30 days access to RDA to help me decide, and there is talk of regional discussion groups who will create records together and discuss the changes and ambiguities.  I do hope there is one here “oop North”!


Filed under Events, Training

Cataloguing: Authority files

I’m in the unusual position of having a brand new cataloguing system to play with, which is great, but also terrifying…  I don’t even have any librarian colleagues here to ask, just lots of volunteers who expect me to instantly know the answer to obscure cataloguing questions.  I try and preserve the “trained librarian knowledgable mystique” bit but there are limits to how long I can keep that charade up and some help here would be appreciated.  In the name of preserving that mystique?

All our cataloguing records have been migrated across to the shiny new MARC21 system, JAMIE, and they have authors on those records, but the authority records have not come across.  The old system wasn’t MARC compliant and there was only so much the techies could do.  I knew the old authors list wasn’t up to much anyway, so I said we would rebuild it.  And now I have to make the decisions about HOW to rebuild it.  Obviously I have spent a lot of time on the Library of Congress MARC standards website and they also have some really handy tutorials hidden away under MARC Formats which I would recommend.  So I have read the one on Authorities thoroughly, however it contains the following (unhelpful) line:

It is important to note that the formulation of a name, or subject heading in an authority record is based on generally accepted cataloging and thesaurus-building conventions.


Generally accepted conventions??  So, my first thought was ISBD which is what LOC usually seem to send me to.  However the key letter in ISBD is B – bibliographic – not authorities.  So it wasn’t a lot of help.  So which conventions?  Could anyone give me the shortened version?  And before anyone asks, no, I don’t subscribe to any packages which might help with this.  I have a paper copy of 1967 ACCR2 and a pdf of ISBD and that’s it!  I can consult the most recent AACR2 at my local university library but it means a special trip to the other end of town, and it helps to know what I’m looking up…  I’m already quite left behind as it is.  Goodness only knows how far left behind I’ll be when RDA takes off next March.  There’s defnitely no funds for a subscription here so I’ll be very reliant on people’s blogs and comments on big changes.

My key questions would be:

  • what exactly do you put in 670?  And do you always use it, or just when there’s danger of confusion?
  • Do you expand an author’s name in 100a, or use the fuller form of name field?  I prefer 100a myself, would I be making a huge error by sticking to that?
  • I have been searching LOC and BL for each author and adding dates to 100d whenever they have them.  Is this how other people do it?
  • Do you put a full stop at the end of “Smith, John.”?  If there isn’t dates following it, then the LOC examples seem to have a full stop.  Is this because it’s the end of the area??
  • And are there any other crucial things I haven’t thought to ask?

I have asked some local friends, but not many people actually do original cataloguing anymore and those who do, are not on MARC21 so we’re having some confusion.

I was really pleased to read on various CIG conference blogs that authority files and the possibility of a UK NACO funnel was proposed by Deborah Lee.  By a strange coincidence, I had been reading about NACO funnels just that very day online, then suddenly it started popping up in my Twitter feed!  Sharing work on authority files would be fantastic.

Thanks in advance if anyone can help me…



Filed under cataloguing

NAG Conference – and #CPD23 Thing15 2012

NAG Conference came around at the perfect time for Thing 15 (yes I know I’ve missed 14, but quite frankly, I couldn’t find a use for any of them last time around which is why I stalled at Thing 13…  I’ll go back and try again.  Soon.  I promise).

National Acquisitions GroupNAG is the National Acquisitions Group and their tagline is “For everyone interested in the acquisition, management and development of library resources”.  I had heard of them, thanks to a personal link, but I didn’t really feel part of their target audience as I don’t have an acquisitions budget.

Despite that, what I am involved with is Library Management Systems, also part of NAG’s remit.  Until recently, all I had ever done was enter data into an LMS, trying desperately to follow all available rules I could get my hands on and not to mess anything up.  However, last November our catalogue crashed.  Spectacularly.  The supplier simply suggested we upgrade to their latest product.  For £19k.  We declined.

So Open Source was our next thought and we researched and discovered I liked the front end of Koha but needed the back end of Evergreen.  “Why not merge?” says the ICT volunteer.  Well, why not it turns out!  We now have JAMIE which is just that and is working very well.  I’m still dealing with the data in it, but that’s not the software’s fault!  Turns out our old system wasn’t MARC compliant so getting the data across has been a struggle as some fields simply aren’t there.  And it wasn’t really in a proper database structure either…  I’ve had to get a lot more hands on with the LMS backend and SQL, but I’m learning a lot along the way.

So, the NAG organisers wanted someone to come and talk about moving to an open source LMS and so invited me along.  I asked if I could bring the magical ICT volunteer, James Watson, who made it all happen and they were very happy with that.  (Phew, I didn’t want to answer the technical questions on exactly how he did it…) They helpfully also held the conference in York.  We do like Northern events.  So much easier!

James and Jennifer at NAG conference

James explains the technical stuff while I look on…

At first the very idea of actually presenting at a conference did give me a sleepless night or two.  Once it was written and we’d had a few rehearsals though, I felt a lot better.  I think it helped that I really believed in what we were promoting and I had been involved in all the stages along the way.  I tried hard to be positive about JAMIE rather than bitter about where we had been let down by the previous supplier, but it’s a tricky line to walk.

But at the end of the day, we did it!  And I never have to do that for the first time again which is a huge relief.  Also, we had a great opportunity to network with other librarians and suppliers (always important as a Solo):

Networking picture

Lots of opportunities to chat and network were provided…

Jen chatting to other library people

Networking is always better with cake…

And some fantastic cake also was provided…
And this is what we said:
From Proprietary to Open Source

Leave a comment

Filed under cataloguing, CPD 23, Events

Analytical cataloguing – or Tables of Contents in records

Sometimes I have to say that I love Twitter!

Cataloguing as a solo librarian is hard.  You can’t just turn to your neighbour and say, “so what shall we do about…”  I tried discussing the problem with library users and volunteers and they all agreed that it was indeed a problem and there was various ways I could solve it, but they couldn’t possibly give an opinion on which…

My problem is that I have a lot of books with very vague titles such as “Tales of Railwaymen” then have lots of much more descriptive titles inside.  Then in a similar problem, I have a whole set of bound pamphlets called “Tracts volume X” with lovely, unique random things hidden inside behind that very dull title.  So I need a way of reflecting all that hidden content on the catalogue.

I couldn’t decide whether I needed to make one catalogue record for each article in a book and put “bound in Tales of the Railwaymen” somewhere, or whether I needed to make one record of “Tales of the Railwaymen” and put “includes x, y and z” somewhere.

So I turned to Twitter and posted:
Does anyone else try to catalogue articles within books written by different people? And in what MARC field? #cataloguing #cataloging

In return Katie Birkwood (@Girlinthe) helpfully said:
I think that’s called analytic cataloguing, and the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge do it. >
And even better, she retweeted my question to her followers.

Since then I have had fantastic replies from five different librarians with ideas about how they work with this in their collections.

Turns out, I had completely the wrong idea on which MARC field to use and what I needed was 505 (Formatted Contents Note) which is for “Titles of separate works or parts of an item or the table of contents”.  This can be used to create huge lists of contents (as @lynncorrigan proved with an example from Edinburgh Napier).

As a further complication though Celine Carty did warn that this can cause filing problems as it doesn’t have the option to ignore non-filing characters at the start of $t as you can in 245.  Her solution is to use the 505a with added entries in 700 and 740.

So my final solution is to make a record for “Tales of the Railwaymen” then to add in 505a the list of what it has in it, “Cards and Characters / Reg Coote — High Days at Holloway / George Case……” then to add 700 and 740 entries for each of those.  It sounds like a lot of work but now at least I know what needs to be done and I can write a set of rules and a training sheet on it, and volunteers can learn to carry it out!

A further solution offered for the Tracts collection, is to create a record and an item for each tract in the volume, then use 501 to say “bound with 20 other Tracts on accidents” then give a location of “Tracts vol 52.”

Finally, it would be great to make some changes on the OPAC display so that all these carefully created notes aren’t hidden away behind the Notes tab on display.  Hmm, a further thing to work on.


Filed under cataloguing

Evergreen in Scotland event

Evergreen in Scotland event 19/10/11

This event was funded by PTFS, a support company for Open Source Library Management systems Evergreen and Koha.  It was organised in conjunction with the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) and introduced the SEDAR consortium from Stirling and East Dumbartonshire public libraries.

After frustration with their existing Library Management system vendor, several Scottish libraries were looking for more control but also the back-up of external hosting, training and support.  Another advantage was control over developing code to solve problems, then being able to share that freely with other libraries, rather than the vendor charging each local authority to develop the same piece of useful code.  They intend to feed back new developments back into the Evergreen open source community for other libraries to use without cost.

The process of specifications then tenders began in October 2010, with the contract awarded to PTFS in January 2011.  Overall it should provide 30% revenue savings.  The system is due to go live on the 1st of December and it will be the first Evergreen installation in the UK.

I’m a huge believer in Open Source software generally, especially in libraries with lower budgets, and I have always resented paying the annual licensing fee for our library management software for a system that doesn’t really fulfil our needs.  We are constantly using workarounds because we cannot change the system and I don’t feel I have real access to the database behind the software.  This became even more apparent when we started looking at data migration and moving our library data into a new system.

Evergreen started in 2004 with 4 people employed to provide a better LMS for the state of Georgia in the USA.  The system went live in 2006 then the original developers went on to form Equinox – now the main support company in the USA.  The LMS is now used by 521 systems in 1,106 outlets, still primarily in the USA and public libraries.  From my point of view, I was interested to hear this included 36 special libraries and I would like to contact some of those in the future.  The increased number of organisations using Evergreen has increased the number of developers and also the pace of change.  Version 2.0 of Evergreen was released on January 26th 2011, and 2.1 has now been released on October 4th with some significant new changes.  New updates are now expected every six months.

Leave a comment

Filed under cataloguing, Events, News, Training