s Thoughts from the Physics Chick: July 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cat. & Reference: You, too, can be a subject heading!

I was talking with a friend this week who shall remain nameless (but whose name rhymes with "Shmaser Jock") when I happened to create a subject heading for him, on the fly. He was delighted (and appropriately mystified by my strange librarian ways), so I figured other people might enjoy the nerdy fun, as well.

Here, then, is a flow chart which will take you through the steps involved in creating your own authority heading for your name, blogger name, or 100 Hour Board alias:

1. Are you a person?
YES. Go to 2.
NO. Sorry, I'm only doing subject headings for people today. If you're a corporation, meeting, geographical location, uniform title, or topic, you'll have to wait for another day.

2. Type 100. Go to 3.

3. Do you have only one name? (E.g., "Yellow.")
YES. Go to 4.
NO. Go to 5.

4. Types 0_, then $a, then type your name. Go to 7.
100 0_ $a Duchess

5. Is your name a first name (or names) and a last name? A title and a last name? An article and a name? Another name which would normally not be indexed by the first word? (E.g., "A. A. Melyngoch," "Madame Mimm," "The Captain.") Note: If you have a Chinese name or another name where the surname traditionally comes first, answer NO.
YES (to any of the above). Go to 6.
NO. Go to 4.

6. Type 1_, then $a, then invert your name so that the last name comes first. Go to 7.
100 1_ $a Melyngoch, A. A.
100 1_ $a Mimm, Madame
100 1_ $a Captain, The

7. Does your name include initials or is it an acronym or initialism? (E.g. "A.A. Melyngoch," "bawb.")
YES. Go to 8.
NO. Go to 9.

8. Type $q then type, in parentheses, what your initals stand for or the fuller form of your acronym. Go to 9.
100 1_ $a Melyngoch, A. A. $q (Angharad Angelique) [not her real names]
100 0_ $a bawb $q (blue and white blood)

9. Do you think your name is common enough that it might be confused with someone else by the same name?
YES. Go to 10.
NO. Go to 11.

10. You may add your date of birth to make your heading unique. Alternately, if the date of birth is not known, you may add dates during which you "flourished" (i.e., did the work for which you are famous). Type a comma, then $d then your year of birth. (If you are adding the date during which you flourised, add the abbreviation fl. before the date or dates.) Go to 11.
100 1_ $a Melyngoch, A. A. $q (Angharad Angelique), $d 1981- [Syster Melyngoch's name is already quite unique; I just don't know anyone else's year of birth, offhand.]
100 0_ $a Claudio, $d fl. 2007-
100 0_ $a Claudio, $d fl. 2004

11. Congratulations! You have constructed a name authority heading for yourself! Would you like to add cross references?
YES. Go to 12.
NO. Pansy.

12. Are there any other forms of this name which often appear? These include nicknames, acronyms / initialisms, versions of the name in other languages, etc. (E.g. "CPM" for "Curious Physics Minor," "'Brozy" for "Ambrosia," "Katya the Physics Chick" for "Katya," etc.) Add full forms of acronyms, even if you've already added them as a $q.
YES. Go to 13.
NO. Go to 14.

13. Type 400, then go back and repeat steps 3-12 for each other name form. Add each name as a new line under the original line. Go to 14.
100 0_ $a Ambrosia
400 0_ $a 'Brozy
400 1_ $a Ananas, Ambrosia

100 0_ $a bawb $q (blue and white blood)
400 0_ $a blue and white blood

100 0_ $a Katya, $d 1979-
400 0_ $a Katya the Physics Chick
400 0_ $a Katya the Librarian

14. Do you write under any other names? Do you write under this name with a unique "personality" or do you answer a unique subset of questions with this name?
YES to BOTH. Go to 15.
YES to 1, but not 2. Go back to 13 and add the name as 400 line.
NO. Go to 16.

15. Type 500, then go back and repeat steps 3-12 for each other name form. Add each name as a new line under the original line. Go to 16.
100 0_ $a Uffish Thought
400 0_ Uffish
500 0_ $a songs of inexperience

100 0_ $a Katya, $d 1979-
400 0_ $a Katya the Physics Chick
400 0_ $a Katya the Librarian
500 0_ $a physics chick, the
500 0_ $a librarian, the, $d 1979-

16. Congrats! You have now created a name authority heading, complete with cross-references!

Odds and ends:

Q. What's the difference between 400 lines and 500 lines?

A. A 400 line is a SEE reference. Basically, it means that you don't quite have the correct official form of the name. (For those familiar with Wikipedia syntax, this is similar to a redirect page.)

A 500 line is a SEE ALSO reference. For a name heading, this means that the person listed in the 100 line also writes under a different name and in a consciously different style. (This is relatively rare in the literary world, but quite common on the 100 Hour Board.) Since the name and style are different, this name gets its own authority record, with appropriate SEE ALSO reference linking back.
100 0_ $a Uffish Thought
400 0_ $a Uffish
500 0_ $a songs of inexperience

100 0_ $a songs of inexperience
500 0_ $a Uffish Thought

Basically, this is just a way of letting someone know that if they're interested in work under Name A, they might also be interested in work by the same person under Name B.

Q. What's the deal with the $ sign?

A. This is a subfield delimiter. Every part of the authority heading has a name. a is called the personal name, d is the associated date(s) (sometimes the subfield letters are mnemonic, sometimes not), q is the fuller form of the name. The subfield delimiter tells the computer not to read the next character as part of the name, but as a type of subfield.

Which character actually shows up as the delimiter depends on the system. OCLC uses , the Library of Congress and the OPAC I work with use a pipe sign, and the system I first learned MARC on used . Somewhere along the way, I picked up $ and stuck with it.

Subfield delimiters don't regularly show up in online library catalogs. You have to be working behind the scenes, or click on an option that says something like "View MARC tags." Even then, the $a may not show up. Since virtually every field starts with $a, it's understood to be there, even if it's suppressed.

Q. How do I format team names (e.g. "Red Team," "HFAC")?

A. Teams are considered corporations, so this flow chart won't doesn't apply.

Q. How do I deal with titles or generational names (e.g., Earl, Duke, King, III, Jr.)?

A. This falls under the advanced name authority heading tutorial. If you really want to know, I'll tell ya.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

An emotion observed

I've been thinking a lot about grief lately, because of some recent events. (Nothing that close to home, though — don't worry about me.)

I'm a very shy, introverted person and when under any sort of stress, I become even more shy and introverted. This means that when I'm grieving, attention — even in the form of sympathy — is really the last thing I want. (The last time I had any major loss to mourn, I was grateful that almost no one knew about it, so I could be left to my pain in peace.)

I realize that not everyone is like this, and that many people find such behavior confusing. Melyngoch once confessed that she often has a hard time "reading" me when really stressed. (Apparently "sad quiet," "happy quiet," "angry quiet," "upset quiet," "hurt quiet," and "embarrassed quiet" all look the same — who knew?)

How do you grieve?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Cat. & Reference: Uniform titles

The idea of the uniform title is to collocate (bring together) books that have different titles but are, in some sense, versions of the same book. Uniform titles apply in a number of different circumstances.

1. Translations.

There's no sense in shelving "Le Petit Prince," under "p," "The Little Prince," under "l" and "Der Kleine Prinz" under "k," if they're all versions of the first work.

Instead, all of the translations are shelved by the author, then subsorted by the title of the original edition, and the catalog records get an extra line above the standard title which looks like this:

240 10 $a Petit Prince. $l English
245 14 $a The Little Prince.

240 10 $a Petit Prince. $l German
245 14 $a Der Kleine Prinz.

Shelving and sorting by uniform title is very appealing to catalogers' tidy minds, but it may also have benefits for the patron. It's a cataloging rule of thumb that you want to shelve books near other books that may be of interest, so if the patron finds one of them, they can find all of them. Shelving a book by uniform title means that a patron who finds a translated work can also find the original edition, or that a patron who knows the title of a book in the original language can easily find translations. (Although some books have very standard titles in translation — think War and Peace — some books have titles which vary with the translation — think Remembrance of Things Past vs. In Search of Lost Time.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

for a night visitor

When the wind blows,
You will find me.

You will smell my breath
And come around locked doors
And through barred windows
With your hungry kisses.

I will not wake,
But in the morning
I will see the evidence
Of your affection.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Life lessons

I used to work for a company that converted card catalogs to online library databases. Once I was sitting at work when a neighbor of mine ran into a bunch of Russian cards. Since he didn't speak Russian, he couldn't search for the matching records. (In fact, he couldn't even have matched up the words, since the cards were printed in Cyrillic, but online Russian library records are typically transliterated.) Since there were only a handful of Russian cards, I leaned over and helped him match up the records.

Another coworker overheard us talking and delightedly said to me: "Ты говоришь?*"

I paused. "Я не сказала бы что я хорошо говорю, но нимношка, да.†"

He looked at me blankly. "Oh, I don't know what you said."

"Wait, don't you speak Russian?" I replied.

"Uh, no, not really. I can just say a few phrases."


Am I the only one who thinks you shouldn't go around saying "Ты говоришь?" (or "Parlez-vous français" or "Sprechen Sie Deutsch?") if you can't, you know,
understand the response?

*Do you speak [Russian]?
†I wouldn't say that I speak well, but a little, yes.

Monday, July 07, 2008

a favorite scene from a favorite movie, recreated from memory

This movie just came up in my NetFlix queue. I watched it twice last week and I could watch it again right now. (Really, I just need to buy it.)


A: I will warn the de Tournay family. There's no use trying to stop me.

P: I have no intention of stoppin' you. Do you think you could get in to the temple prison to see the count . . . tonight?

A: I suppose so. Why?

P: I [dramatic pause] . . . have a plan.

A: Oh. You have a plan. You, who are practically incapable of any thought entering into your head which is not trivial! Really, P----, this is serious!

P: So am I. Deadly serious. We must rescue the de Tournay family without risking you. You can be far more useful to us where you are.

A: Useful to "us"? What on earth are you talking about?

P: You must swear, by all you hold sacred, you will not repeat what I am about to tell you to anyone—not even M---------!

A: Really, P----!

P: Do you swear?

A: Very well.

P: [Pulls out a signet ring and shows it to him] Do you recognize that symbol?

A: It looks like a small flower of some sort . . .

P: Precisely. It is a S------ P--------.

[A. looks shocked]


I edited out some names which made it too easy to guess and the dialogue may not be exactly right because, like I said, I wrote it down from memory. I think it's pretty close, though. Anyone else recognize it?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Cat. & Reference: The librarian as detective

Last Thursday I found that I had to catalogue two pamphlets published by the American Woolen Company. At first glance, the two pamphlets looked almost identical. They were both called "Properties of the American Woolen Company" and they consisted of unnumbered pages of photographs of woolen mills in the New England area which were owned by that company. Neither book contained a copyright date, although I guessed that they were from the early part of the 20th century.

As a cataloger, if you don't have a lot of information to go on, it's perfectly legitimate to take your best guess and move on, even if that best guess is very vague. (E.g., you can record something like [19--] or [ca. 1930?] in the date field.) However, I like to provide as much information as I can, even if it means doing a little detective work.

Upon closer inspection, however, I realized that one of the books contained 38 photographs, while the other one contained 54. Presumably, the second book had been published some years after the first one, and the 16 additional properties had been acquired in the meantime. I realized that if I could figure out when those additional mills had been acquired, I'd have an upper date boundary for the first pamphlet and a lower date boundary for the second.

So my first task was to record and organize all of the mills mentioned in the two pamphlets. (There was no table of contents, and they didn't appear to be organized in any logical fashion.) Many of the mills had very generic names which made them hard to research, but I found one, the Waverly Mill in Pittsfield, Maine, which had been acquired by the American Woolen Company in 1914.

In the process of doing this research, I found a Wikipedia article about the
American Woolen Company which mentioned that they acquired the Ayers Mill in 1909. Since that mill appeared in both pamphlets, I could use 1909 as a lower boundary for the date range, meaning that I'd narrowed down the dates of the first pamphlet to between 1909 and 1914.

In the second pamphlet, I found a mill listed as the Foxcroft Mill in Foxcroft, Maine. The town of Foxcroft no longer exists, because in 1922, it merged with the town of Dover to form Dover-Foxcroft. This meant that the second pamphlet had to have been published before that date, so I could give the date range of the second pamphlet as between 1914 and 1922. (Not quite as narrow as the first range, but still better than [19--].)

Cataloging both of these pamphlets took about an hour, but sometimes you have to go the extra mile.