Re: Bringing Web resources into the catalog

Posting to RadCat

On 05/02/2013 22:28, Frances, Melodie wrote:

I have had informal conversations about how the traditional catalog historically has reflected a given library’s holdings and how that has changed to also reflect items that we have access to (paid subscriptions for databases / serials etc.) – and how we can also, if we so choose, bring in marc records for other kinds of web resources, such as records for Open Access Journals, web sites that we think are really important for our users, etc.

My questions for you all are:

If you have had those kind of conversations?

If so, what have you brought in?
How have you made decisions about what to bring in?
Have you done anything formal / policy like?

And anything else that you might have discussed / stumbled upon.

The first step is to figure out how to select these materials and who should do it. With traditional library materials, a library selector has had a lot of help from businesses selecting worthwhile materials: such as publishers, editors, book jobbers, approval plans, and so on. It has been known for a long time that a library selector working all alone could never keep up.

All of that assumes paid materials, and in the free, open world, I can’t imagine that a business would do a lot of work selecting materials when they will get no income. Therefore, a new system must be devised. I think there are possibilities for new methods, but I want to focus on cataloging.

Once these new materials have been selected, they will be available at the click of a button, or the item may even display at the same time as the catalog record. This should have some kind of consequences for descriptive cataloging, i.e. what is the purpose of much of the description (not necessarily the headings) when the item is instantly available? At least some notes should disappear, and perhaps the principle of transcription will be less important than with physical items that take time to access. There will probably be many other consequences as well.

There is also concern for “analysis”. For instance, what does the cataloger do when the selector says, “I want to select all courses in ITunes U that are free.” This could easily be a year’s production for somebody. So, you could make a record for ITunes U like this: but that record is of no use to a person who is interested in a specific course like this: Once a cataloger begins to catalog these materials separately however, you open a Pandora’s Box of doing all of them, or determining which ones. Of course, this is only one site and there are tons of worthwhile sites out there. Even if you could make separate records, the catalog result could easily become overwhelmed.

I think there are multiple solutions for all of this, but there would have to be trials and failures, so that we could see which ones worked or not.

About URLs dying or changing, I think that is of less importance if catalogers could work closely with the Wayback Machine, or create something similar of our own. This way, all previous versions will be available and if the actual site dies or changes URL, there will still be something for people to use. My example has been in a wiki I made for a library where I worked:, and I show where an entire, peer-reviewed journal that died, still exists.