[uf-discuss] Re: [Structuredblogging-discuss] microformat for books in a library catalog

Ed Summers ehs at pobox.com
Tue Dec 20 07:53:18 PST 2005

On 12/20/05, Benjamin Carlyle <benjamincarlyle at optusnet.com.au> wrote:
> MARC is typically used for cataloging rather than citation. It is the
> electronic equivalent to a paper card catalogue in your local library.
> Cataloging and citation are targeted at slightly different audiences.
> Citation is targetted at an audience who wants to follow a kind of
> hyperlink from one place to another. The emphasis is on providing enough
> information to know where to look and to recognise it when you find it.
> Cataloging is intended for the reference librarian audience, where you
> know something about the work but do not have your hyperlink. You know
> it was a blue book of certain dimensions about flies. The catalogue
> entry is the google base that will help you hone in on what you are
> looking for. A citation has a quite different focus.

Yes, I'm conflating cataloging metadata and citation metadata a bit.
Cataloging cards typically have access points such as the main entry,
subject headings which guided how the card was filed in the physical
catalog. Citations do not have these typically.

With the advent of online catalogs this distinction is blurred quite a
bit given  the availability of freetext searching, and being able to
search against any metadata field, not just the main entry, subject

I'd argue that as a microformat the distinction gets blurred even
further since the artificat being processed by the machine is the
actual display of the citation metadata.

> Whether this cite micrformat proposal covers cataloging as well as
> citation may be important to consider. Cataloging typically requires
> conformance to very specific rules such as AARC2, and significant
> portions of some library courses are built around getting it right.
> These rules cover details such as whether you have to record both the
> width and the height of a book, depending on how closely related the
> dimensions are. I think that aiming to include the capabilities of MARC
> or a simliar cataloging system might be aiming too high. If MARC was
> able to be encoded it may well be useful, but at a quick glance I would
> see this as a microformat in itself. I think you would either have to
> pick MARC21 as your semantic model or choose not be compatible with

Agreed. Expecting microformatters to learn AACR2 and MARC's byzantine
tagging mechanism is a non starter. By definition MARC (Machine
Readable Cataloging) was designed for machines to read--not humans.
This is evident in the numeric tags that have no semantic content,
apart from what trained catalogers know them to be. MODS on the other
hand takes the semantics of MARC and associates the numeric tags with
pleasant human readable tags. There might actually be some potential
for MODS as a microformat.

That being said I'd love to see some MODS as microformat examples in
the wiki...and am enjoying this thread.


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