Tag Archives: cataloguing

A national library perspective on Alma #anzreg2019

A national library perspective on Alma
Sandra McKenzie, National Library of New Zealand

Ex Libris marketing towards higher education/academic libraries. National Library purpose (per legislation) is to “enrich the cultural and economic life of New Zealand” including by collecting, preserving and protecting documents, and making them accessible for all the people of New Zealand.

NLNZ has two categories of collections:

  1. heritage collections held permanently, in controlled environments – both physical and digital
  2. general collections, borrowable but usually also kept in stack

Legal deposit – for physical resources publishers must deposit 2 copies (one for heritage and one for general collection); for digital resources, 1 file format. If publish both, deposit both and each gets a separate record. NLNZ provides ISBNs and ISSNs, and is the national bibliographic agency for New Zealand. Bibliography scope includes not just legal deposit but anything about New Zealand from overseas. Monthly extract from Alma made available in various formats, and dataset updated quarterly.

Analogue avalanche and digital deluge. (Project to import a few terabytes of data from musicians – will be talked about at National Digital Forum.)

Migrated from Rosetta to Alma/Primo in 2018 – without systems librarians. Challenges:

  • Metadata editor – very clunky for original cataloguing which is very important for them. A “fluid approach to adhering to MARC21”. Looking forward to new metadata editor.
  • Born digital workflows – nonexistent though an Idea is under review. No digital legal deposit workflow so had to use a physical order workflow – need to be able to chase them up.
  • Deduplication – different publishing numbers for digital inventory and for physical workaround inventory – Primo dedups this. Two very different maps, contour vs cadastral, but with same title – only difference is the series number, so Primo deduped it. Could turn this off but then would have a problem with the born digital material.
  • Serials – ongoing challenge; vast parts of the collection have no item records so requesting is very difficult


  • Normalisation rules – use this extensively and test in Sandbox which they love. Use them record-by-record eg for creating an online record based on a print record. Also use for metadata clean-up and for bulk record creation
  • Integration with Rosetta which stores files eg for podcasts

New ways of working

  • Thinking across teams, looking at the order they do things
  • Use records from spreadsheets, lots of use of MarcEdit which had only been used by specialists previously
  • New position of “digital collecting specialist” who use norm rules, APIs, MarcEdit etc
  • Template for podcast, harvest specific details for each episode from the RSS feed to fill in the rest. More scripts manage import into Rosetta. From 2018 to 2019 big increase in machine generated records from 500 to over 2500. (People still involved but machine doing the boring parts, cataloguers choose templates and analyse subject keywords required.)

Q: How do you deal with archival materials?
A: These are handled in a separate system.

Q: Have you managed to overcome the problems with serials?
A: Work in progress….

Authorities and identifiers in data sources #anzreg2018

The future of authorities and identifiers in national and international data sources; pros, cons & ROI.
Panel: Lynne Billington SLNSW, Libraries Australia representative, Catherine Amey NLNZ, Jenny Klingler Monash University, Ebe Kartus UNE

Libraries Australia syndicates data to Trove; headings to WorldCat; to VIAF (not clear how much identifiers are being used here but Wikidata grabs it; ISNI sends data to VIAF and ORCID has some relationship with ISNI)… Workflow never fully developed by LA due to lack of demand. Only 3 orgs regularly sending data for ingest to ANBD. Integrated in international identifier ecosystem and investing in staff training. RDA gives opportunity to enrich records – functionality not yet implemented by library systems. Advocates with vendors to ensure data can interoperate with national/international data ecosystem.

National Library of New Zealand – including iwi names under 373. Data goes to OCLC. Follow international standards except for Ngā Upoko Tukutuku. Recognised by LoC. Available as open dataset for download. Last year pilot project to convert to Linked Data format – trying to show reo-ā-iwi as concepts on an equal level.

Used to load ABN authority records to Voyager. Later aligned with LC authority records, automated from Validator – until the program stopped working. Bought and loaded weekly updates with Gary Strawn’s programs. Migrated to Alma where these programs didn’t work so joined NACO program. NACO authorities go to LC linked data and VIAF – LC authorities are in the Alma Community Zone. Can insert this into 024 field to hopefully enable linked data.
Staffing a major issue in metadata area – lack of support in this area with many staff retiring without being replaced. Tension between NACO headings and LA record bib headings. Time intensive, and delay of 2 weeks before get into CZ.

University of New England
frustrated that we’re worried about library data instead of being part of the semantic web. MARC Will Not Die – it’s an albatross around our neck.
Have tried redefining a few things eg $0 for a standard control number of a related authority or standard identifier; $1 for a URI that identifies an entity (which appears to generally include standard identifier).
Libraries need to be part of the web, not just on the web.
Risk of focusing on what authorities we can get in CZ because this will advantage big authorities and disadvantage local authorities that are important to our community.
Can’t put a triple into a relational database. How are we really going to start working toward a linked open data environment?
need to put in identifiers wherever possible and stop fussing about punctuation
return on investment – hard to show one way or another. We don’t have a system to show proof of concept. Need to take leap of faith, hopefully in partnership with a vendor.


2 #blogjune

“Two” brought to mind the Dewey vs Library of Congress call number systems. I don’t know why; I know there are other systems. In fact on my campus alone, although we use LC primarily, we also use Dewey (for a lot of the education materials), Moys (for law), first-three-letters-of-author (for special fiction collections), super-local accession numbers (for a lot of AV material though I think these at least are to be reclassified at some point) and so on and so forth (standards; product catalogues; archives). And I’ve never understood the “ringed” classifications at all. All of which is surely enough to make anyone emit a hearty existentially anguished “Why?

But it’s the LC vs Dewey that I mostly have to explain to new students familiar with school and public libraries. And it’s not that I think that one or the other or both should change, because I understand their respective niches. But those poor students. Really it’s no wonder they ask for books by bib number, or ISBN, or author, or colour.

Tim Spalding on Social cataloguing

What it is, and what it means for libraries?
Tim Spalding founder of LibraryThing

Introduces self as a failed academic, worked in publishing, started LibraryThing.

Warning: Library Science being practiced without a degree

Started as a personal project, now a company. 850,000 members who catalogue their personal libraries – so far 44million books. Available in 12+ languages. (Not Māori but would be open to that – translations done by members.)

Social cataloguing is “what I say it means” because he invented it! It’s what emerges when personal catalogue goes social. It’s becoming increasingly important to libraries. Used in LibraryThing, Shelfari, GoodReads; Visual Bookshelf, BooksWeRead.

Ladder of social cataloguing:
– started as personal cataloguing and grew from there
– users climb the ladder
– climbing the ladder is more altruism, more cooperation, more social. But participating is primarily for self. There’s some application to libraries but it’s different there.

Live demonstration of adding “History of New Zealand” by Michael King to his bookshelf. Mixture of tags – “new zealand”, “history”, “lianza”, “interesting”. Bookshelf with ratings. Can add from Amazon or many other bookstores or even libraries – 10 libraries in New Zealand contribute data. Can view libraries by list, cover, tag (list or cloud); author cloud or portraits. Statistics on language, number of characters, places. Reviews and ratings. Members’ profiles – social networking component but LibraryThing is more about content than people, reflected in focus on users’ names rather than user icons.

23,000 people adding Twilight. All doing it for themselves but as a result there are now 1200 reviews people can read; tags are added, recommendations are generated (“Will I like it?” – it correctly predicts he won’t like Twilight. 🙂 ) Can follow a feed of new recommendations. There’s also the “unsuggester” – trying to be entertaining around books.

Example of Neuromancer – library of congress has bizarre subject headings; LibraryThing has “cyberpunk” and you can click through to read more cyberpunk. “Chicklit” is sorted by how many people have called it that; cf Library of Congress “love stories” which is just either/or, no sorting. Idea of prototypes – a robin is a really good example of a bird, a penguin is a kind of okay example of a bird…

Non-romance readers think romance readers read romance, but they don’t – they read contemporary romance, trashy romance, regency romance, lesbian romance, paranormal romance….

“If you’re using terms like “social capital” you’ve already passed some kind of brain test” so not worried about vandalism….

“magic” is problematic – Harry Potter mixed in with academic ones.
“leather” even more so

Can do tagmashes to get tagmash “France”, “WWII”, “fiction”

“chicklit” is now an LCSH but not geographically subdivided and will never have a “zombie” subdivision.

Tags: glbt vs lgbt “But those are the same thing!” — but no: the books are actually different. The terms that people use encode all sorts of stuff. Many things labelled “homosexuality” actually mean “anti-homosexuality”.

More than 1.5million covers added (including Albanian, Serbian editions of Harry Potter). When you upload it for yourself, everyone gets the benefit.

Social networking based on books you have in common. “Even if I don’t want to be his buddy, checking out his library will be very interesting to me. Social networking for people who don’t want to talk to each other.”

Most popular group is Librarians who LibraryThing. Conversations about books on groups are tied into the books’ own records.

LibraryThing Local – showing us map of bookstores and libraries in Portland, Maine. Can connect to local LT members; find events at bookstores, libraries. Add a photo of our libraries to these pages!

Example of wife’s books – members have combined all the editions (other languages, etc) FRBR-style. Members have combined “Mark Twain” and “Samuel Clemens”.

“Common Knowledge” – awards, quotes, characters and places in the story, blurbers – all sorts of things not captured in typical metadata.

Series pages – eg Star Wars series. Plus “related series”. Much more information than any library has. Collated by people who know about it – the books’ fans.

How many books does George Washington occur in? How many books take place in Washington, D.C., or in Hell?

LT “member” Thomas Jefferson, Marie Antoinette. No New Zealanders at the moment. Based on eg auction house records. Done by the group “I See Dead People’s Books”. Nice to be able to search Thomas Jefferson’s library – couldn’t do it before; now can see how you overlap with these people. Most popular book among all legacy libraries is Don Quixote; #2 is Complete Shakespeare.

Highest rung of ladder is altruism – flash mob cataloguing where volunteers go to library and catalogue their books in a mob in a day.

Six free ways to use LibraryThing:
1 Make sure you’re in LT Local
2 Make an account
3 Libraries of Early New Zealand
4 Flash-mob catalogue your local historical society, church, health centre…
5 “Community library” to create a shared local library with LibraryThing Groups (eg two churches, a historical library, and a couple of people in town).
6 Grab our free data: common knowledge data, frbrised data etc.

One un-free way:
1 LibraryThing for Libraries eg at Seattle Public Library showing other editions and translations; similar books; tags; reviews. Four or five NZ libraries are using it.

What does social cataloguing mean for library cataloguing?
The end of the world! No!

Defends the value of structured metadata but that shouldn’t be all we have.

LCSH – A book has 3-6 subjects – why? because that’s how many we can fit on a card.
Subjects are equally valid because of… the card.
Subjects never change because of… the card.
Only librarians get to add subjects because of… the card.
Users don’t get a say in how books are classified because of… the card.

In the digital world, none of this matters. In libraries these ideas have still persisted.

The physical library was human. The first wave of technology was dehumanising but social cataloguing can rehumanise the library. Everyone can help. (We don’t need to let them do everything but they can help!) Local matters again. cf Māori Subject Headings – sometimes local communities need headers other communities don’t have.

A note of caution before joining the exciting world of web2.0 – join the exciting world of web1.0! Library catalogues aren’t web1.0. Often you can’t link to library catalogue records; they’re all session-based. Why why why? People need to be able to bookmark and share. And catalogues aren’t indexed in search engines! Why?????

Go with the grain of the internet, not against it. We’re not in competition with the internet. We should be open. Libraries are going the wrong way. LibraryThing gets twice as much traffic as WorldCat. Dogster gets as much traffic as WorldCat.

Be part of the conversation. Trust people: put your stuff online and risk that people might find the “wrong thing” or tag it the “wrong way”.

Choose solutions that favour all this. He thinks open source is the way to go. He doesn’t think open source is necessarily better, but it can be.

Social cataloguing can be a last chance to join web 1.0. Before we start struggling with ebooks struggle with the fact that people can’t find our books on Google! It’s an opportunity to reinvigorate library technology. To reconsider some LIS thinking and improve systems. (Had a LT project to replace Dewey. Turns out to be hard and didn’t work. But it’s cool to try!) Chance to embrace best traditions of librarianship: radical openness, public spirit, focus, connection to the local and social. Why would we lend books but hold back metadata?

Q: Could libraries organise own flash mobs and [? get stuff on web?]
A: Absolutely! Thinks flash mobs are good for things on the periphery, stuff that’s never been exposed eg churches, historical society. So many books exist in private holdings!

Q: What proportion of books on LibraryThing do people catalogue themselves rather than pulling data in?
A: Not sure but probably a small percentage. Zines, comics, etc are the main things.

Links of interest 14/9/09

The National Library of China is celebrating its centennial.

Nga Upoko Tukutuku korero is a new blog for discussion on Maori Subject Headings – each week they post a new question for readers to answer/comment on.


  • Promoting Library Reference Services to First-Year Undergraduate Students: What Works? (feature article in RUSQ this month) “describes a study that sought to answer three questions:

    1. What percentage of first-year undergraduate students are aware of reference services?
    2. What percentage of first-years seek information from reference librarians?
    3. Through which media are first-years comfortable communicating with reference librarians?”

    The summary on page 4 begins “At least in their first year of college, students respond most strongly to library reference service promotions given in person.”

  • The Swiss Army Librarian posts a “Reference Question of the Week” describing the question and the way he found (or didn’t find) an answer. His recent post on “What’s in your ready ref?” is also fascinating.


  • The British Library Sound Archive has made over 23,000 sound recordings available for listening online (where copyright permits) to anyone anywhere in the world. This includes music (classical, popular, traditional), oral history, nature, and linguistic recordings.
  • The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre has released 1000 NZ classics in e-book format

There seems to be a revival in posts about Twitter recently – in the last couple of weeks I’ve come across:

(And for those interested in New Zealand birds, Twitter accounts Kārearea (kakarapiti) and newzealandbirds.)