June 2009


OCLC’s six-month Expert Community Experiment, which began in February, is now a little past the halfway point. The latest in a long series of initiatives aimed at enhancing the quality of bibliographic records in WorldCat, the experiment allows member libraries with full-level cataloging authorizations “to correct, improve and upgrade all WorldCat master records, with the exception of PCC records (BIBCO and CONSER records). Library of Congress records that are not PCC records are included in the Experiment.”

FAQs on the experiment are here, or just scroll down in the page linked above.

If your institution is interested in being part of the experiment, there is no application process; you can start right in. If you have enhanced WorldCat records before, the procedure is essentially the same as what you have already followed, except that, as noted in Chapter 5 of Bibliographic Formats and Standards, “The record replace restrictions based on authorization modes in this chapter are superseded during the Expert Community Experiment.”

Needless to say, with the kind of power OCLC is giving us comes responsibility. Please don’t participate until you have read the Guidelines for Experts and are honestly confident that you are prepared to follow them. It would be helpful to view the recorded Expert Community Experiment Webinar as well.

So far, OCLC reports that the experiment is going well. Karen Calhoun remarked at the Illinois OCLC Users’ Group annual meeting last Friday that the “cataloging wars” some had feared have not materialized.

The MARC Standards Home Page is not going to win any awards for snappy Web design. Bookmark it anyway. It provides numerous links to primary MARC resources, including:

MARC Formats

Bibliographic, Authority, Holdings, Classification, and Community Information (each of these in full and concise versions); Translations and adaptations, plus MARC 21 Translators’ Tools for those doing translations of MARC documentation; and even a MARC LITE Bibliographic Format, “a true subset of the data elements in the complete MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data” designed as “a quick reference guide to tagging.”

Even if your daily use of MARC is in the context of OCLC, my opinion is that you really should know your way around MARC 21, or at least be able to find data elements in their MARC 21 form. Otherwise you’ll be floundering when examining a MARC record from a source other than OCLC, or when setting or troubleshooting specifications for import into a local system.

MARC Code Lists

Countries
Geographic Areas
Languages
Organizations
Relators, Sources, Description Conventions

(I’ve mentioned these in connection with OCLC, which no longer maintains separate lists but links to these.)

… and much more. I might just make particular mention of two useful introductory documents, Understanding MARC Bibliographic and Understanding MARC Authority Records.

“The Terminologies Service provides access to multiple controlled vocabularies to help you create consistent metadata for your library, museum, or archive collections. Now it’s as easy as copy-and-paste into a workform or template once you find a term to use in your description, improving the description of (and access to) your digital and hard copy materials.

“The Service can be integrated with Connexion or used as a standalone tool to copy terms into a variety of metadata editors including the one available in OCLC’s CONTENTdm software.”

The Terminologies Service currently incorporates 11 vocabularies, including AAT, GSAFD, MeSH, TGN, and TGM I and II. I haven’t used it, but it seems like a handy aid for institutions using multiple thesauri. Installation is free with Connexion, and there are several online tutorials for both installation and use.

OCLC’s WorldCat search capabilities have expanded enormously since PRISM days. If you want to spend a long time exploring everything available to you in WorldCat searching, take a look at Searching WorldCat Indexes: “comprehensive information about indexes used to retrieve records from WorldCat.” This will let you go quite deep into such matters as indexing and search enhancements.

For more accessible and quicker reference, this document links to several interface-specific guides, including Connexion: Searching WorldCat Quick Reference, applicable to both the browser and the client; Cataloging: Search WorldCat for the client, and Find Bibliographic Records for the browser. There are also links to configuration guides for OCLC Z39.50 access to cataloging and to FirstSearch.