AALL Spectrum Blog

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The AALL Spectrum® blog is published by the American Association of Law Libraries. Submissions from AALL members and other members of the legal community are highly encouraged. Opinions and editorial views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of AALL. AALL does not assume any responsibility for statements advanced by contributors. Previously, the AALL Spectrum Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.

The AALL Spectrum blog is no longer published. Previous posts are archived on this page.
12/19/2014 5:38:54 PM

Contents, Displays and Microdata – RDA, BIBFRAME and Schema

As you have probably heard, or seen in your own catalog, there’s a new cataloging standard in town and it’s RDA, or Resource Description and Access. The major goal of the new standard is to enhance the user’s retrieval and access experience, the so-called FRBR (Functional Requirements of Bibliographic Records) user needs or user tasks, i.e. to find, to identify, to select and to obtain. So, RDA is supposed to better help users identity what they need and then retrieve it. RDA was adopted by the Library of Congress in 2013 and has pretty much been accepted internationally as well, except not, interestingly enough, by the National Library of Spain.

RDA is what is called a “content standard,” which means it’s a standard for what information should be in a record. It’s not a display standard – i.e., how the record should look in your catalog – or an encoding standard – i.e., how you code the information to make it display in your catalog or anywhere else, for that matter.  Now that RDA has been mostly accepted, the encoding standard seems to be the topic of most discussion. (Before we throw out the old standard for first disseminating catalog cards and then getting catalog card-type information into catalogs, i.e. MARC, let us take a minute to marvel that it was developed in the 1960s at the Library of Congress by Henriette Avram and is still in use today.)

The main contenders for the new encoding standard are BIBFRAME, which is supported by the Library of Congress, and Schema.org, which OCLC will use, calling it the “metadata standard most widely adopted by search engines.” It is to imagine catalog data outside of the MARC format, but you can see examples of records in BIBFRAME here. It seems to work just like an XML document. Schema, similarly, uses HTML tags, but with microdata that makes it possible for major search engines to understand what’s being marked up. From the Schema.org site, "Your web pages have an underlying meaning that people understand when they read the web pages. But search engines have a limited understanding of what is being discussed on those pages. By adding additional tags to the HTML of your web pages—tags that say, ‘Hey search engine, this information describes this specific movie, or place, or person, or video’—you can help search engines and other applications better understand your content and display it in a useful, relevant way. Microdata is a set of tags, introduced with HTML5, that allows you to do this."

OCLC’s thinking seems to be that it is better to go with a system that is not library-specific. But OCLC and LC will be working together, and OCLC recently announced that OCLC and LC  will be publishing a white paper detailing “how both approaches fit together to address specific library needs and challenges.” Look for updates at the ALA midwinter conference.

--Christina Tarr, Head, Catalog Dept., Berkeley Law Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Posted By Christina Tarr at 12/19/2014 5:38:54 PM  0 Comments
12/12/2014 9:00:00 AM

The December 2014 Issue of Spectrum is Now Available

The December 2014 issue of Spectrum is now available! We hope you enjoy this last issue of 2014, and please post any feedback you may have in the comments section below.

Posted By Ashley St. John at 12/12/2014 9:00:00 AM  0 Comments
TOPICS: spectrum
12/8/2014 1:30:23 PM

E-books and Collection Development

I attended a session on e-books at the most recent Annual Meeting, and I learned that a lot of law libraries had recently started collecting e-books, while some hadn’t started yet. We at Young Law Library at the University of Arkansas aren’t scheduled to provide access to e-books until this month (through the Mid-America Law Library Consortium, or MALLCO), but we have been able to access them for a couple of years through the main campus library. This post will describe my library’s experiences with e-books from a collection development perspective. I hope it may provide e-book newcomers with things to consider, and e-book veterans with the urge to leave advice in the comments section.

One of the other reference librarians and I are the monograph selectors, and we pass the titles on to the serials and acquisitions librarian. We were aware of the existence of e-books, but they weren’t really on our radar since our patrons haven’t been asking for them. They began to affect our collection development decisions last spring, when the serials and acquisitions librarian would reply if a title was already available as an e-book through the main library. My response at the time was “okay, never mind then,” but after speaking with technical services librarians at the main library about their dealings with e-books, I became convinced we needed to specifically address e-books and e-book/print duplication in our information development policy.  

One issue to consider is the permanence of an e-book. When a library has an e-book account, it has access to a pool of titles. For example, our main campus library has an account with ebrary, which is owned by ProQuest. Titles accessible though ebrary (but not actually owned by the library) have a catalog record with the series title “ebrary electronic books dda” (demand-driven acquisition). When a particular title is downloaded a set number of times, the purchase of the e-book is “triggered” and the “dda” is removed from the series title. If an e-book purchase has not been triggered, the title can stay in the pool unless it is removed by the publisher or by the library (for example, if a publisher raises prices more than the library accepts). This particular scenario occurred at our main library, but fortunately the titles we held back on ordering in print have remained.

Another issue is coverage. When we get the e-books through our consortium (through EBL, which like ebrary is owned by ProQuest), we will have access to 12,000 titles, limited to K-classified materials. Since we collect in certain subject areas (Native Americans, agriculture) that fall outside K, we will still need to factor in the main library’s e-book titles when making print purchasing decisions.

As of now, we are deciding on a case-by-case basis which e-book titles we want to duplicate in print. This may change once our own e-book account is made available to our patrons.

Are e-books an established part of your collection? Are they addressed in your collection/information development policy?

Posted By Colleen Williams at 12/8/2014 1:30:23 PM  0 Comments