Re: [ACAT] Online Encyclopedia

Posting to Autocat
This is about trying to cataloging a multi-volume encyclopedia that is in the Internet Archive

On 2/27/2014 4:33 PM, Lisa Romano wrote:

Unfortunately, these are Internet Archive records.

The IA arranges their materials in a way that is not all that library-cataloger-friendly. In library-cataloging terms, it mixes manifestations, so while it contains some fabulous resources, e.g. Migne’s Patrologiae cursus completus in both Latin and Greek–something that would be outrageously expensive for a library that wants it, it exists in the IA for free! e.g.

Unfortunately, there is no overall page and to find a specific volume can be difficult if not practically impossible. There is no way to find out what is there and what is missing. This isn’t the case just for the Migne, because of course there are zillions of booksets in the IA, some very large such as this one, but many(most?) booksets lack any volume numbering and I have discovered that even when the records say something is volume 13, there is absolutely no guarantee that the item is volume 13. Therefore, each volume must be examined.

Finally, the individual records in IA are structurally different from traditional library records. For instance, this one

mixes together different formats: 2 types of pdf, epub, kindle, DjVu, etc. In library cataloging terms, each format would be considered a separate manifestation and therefore each would get a separate record. So, the DjVu format would get one record, while the epub gets another and so on. What we see in the IA is a type of Expression record.

Kind of….

To make matters even more complex, in the future, additional formats can be made automatically from what exists now, so if someone at IA wanted to provide .html or Apple’s .ibook format, or some new format in the future, that format could be generated automatically and there would be a completely different format to manage. And generated in the blink of an eye! Of course, in the IA record, there would just be an additional option in the left column.

Whew! But the materials themselves are nevertheless highly valuable to our patrons. What is the best way to control it? That’s tough, but I think these sorts of resources should make us rethink our normal methods. To do it correctly would mean to catalog these materials so that all manifestations are together, that is: all of the epubs, all of the pdfs, the DjVus and so on. That is a complete rearrangement of what exists now and would take many many hours, perhaps months of horrible work and besides–is that really what the public wants?

In practical terms, if someone wants to add the IA collection of Migne to their library catalog–thereby saving their libraries probably tens of thousands of dollars–and have a record for the entire set so you can see what you have and don’t have, should there be one bookset record for all of the pdfs, another for all of the epubs, another for all of the DjVus and so on?

While that would be “correct” in cataloging terms, it is also a ton of work, and anyway: does the public want materials brought together by format in this way? Clearly, the IA does not think so and believes that the public is far more interested in the contents of a resource than its format.

After all of this, my suggestion is: don’t even think about cataloging the bookset “correctly”. Do it in the most economical way that will help your users find the information they need, but not the format they
need. Create a separate html page that describes your encyclopedia and the links to the individual volumes can go to the IA mixed-format records and then catalog the page you made. Our normal methods fall apart here and lead to too much needless work.

You could also involve others for design of the webpage you make, and anyway, it may be a good idea to involve other library staff. It is an interesting situation and they can see some of the problems we face.