Cataloging Internet Resources: Concerns and Caveats

Article excerpt

Increased cataloging requirements, changing URLs, and conflicting and changing cataloging standards make many of us wary of cataloging Internet resources (including paper-based resources with Internet equivalents). However, the changing information world and new tools such as Web-accessible OPACs may just make you give it a second thought. If, despite the potential problems, you're still interested in cataloging Internet resources, take heart: There are no magic bullets, but there are some tolerable solutions.

Shorter Is Easier

"UNTANGLING THE WEB" PAPERS http://www.library.ucsb.edu/untangle/

DISCUSSION OF DUBLIN CORE http://www.dlib.org/dlib/July95/07weibel.html

In response to the problem of increased cataloging requirements (often compounded by cataloging backlogs and staffing shortfalls), several of my online correspondents argued for shorter cataloging records, so libraries can turn out more than 8-10 records per cataloger per day. Steve Mitchell of the University of California/Riverside wrote me about an approach discussed at last April's "Untangling the Web" conference that uses a 10-year subset of the University of California MELVYL catalog to create records in the "15-30-minute range."

Two sources who wished to be unnamed, both from ARL libraries, advocated using locally developed keywords in lieu of Library of Congress subject headings. Others suggested the proposed Dublin Core metadata standard, which, with its 13 elements, makes the MARC record look like an overloaded Edsel; the Library of Congress offers a "crosswalk" between the Dublin and MARC records so you can see how they overlap.

The problem of changing URLs can be met in several ways. You could decide to add URLs only to locally accessible records for locally accessible resources (though that doesn't tell you what to do with Al Gore's book Reinventing Government; see OCLC 36119544). You could boldly hardwire URLs into catalog records and hope they don't change (noting that RLIN records, unlike OCLC records, can be edited by their creators); increasingly, major sources have stable addresses. (However, when addresses do change, the problem is compounded because it is common practice to export copies of master OCLC records to local systems.) Or you could decide to relocate the maintenance issues to a second source, so that the URL in the record can remain the same even if the file moves.

A tool for this last solution is called the PURL (Persistent Uniform Resource Locator), and the folks behind Intercat - OCLC's catalog of Internet records - are also supporting this technology. Whether PURLs are a short-term experiment or a long-term solution remains to be seen, but according to Erik Jul of OCLC's PURL and Intercat projects, PURL technology does not conflict with any similar standards now in development.

PURLs of Wisdom

INTERCAT http://orc.rsch.oclc.org:6990/

OCLC'S PURL PAGE http://purl. …

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