OCLC Following NLM Standards Change

May 27th, 2016

Excuse cross-posting but some announcements deserve wide distribution:

OCLC is pleased to announce that the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) in OCLC bibliographic records have all been revised in accordance with the standards set forth by the National Library of Medicine (NLM).  In 2015, NLM announced (https://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/techbull/so15/so15_cataloging_unstringing_subject_heading.html)  that as of December 2015, they were changing the way they distribute MeSH in all of their bibliographic records.  In February 2016, OCLC completed re-loading all re-issued NLM bibliographic records in WorldCat.  Since that date, OCLC WorldCat Quality staff have worked to also revise MeSH headings in non-NLM member-input WorldCat bibliographic records to confirm to current MeSH practice.  This was done in accordance with the instructions issued by NLM (https://www.nlm.nih.gov/tsd/cataloging/unstringmesh.html).

OCLC requests that all future contribution of MeSH headings in bibliographic records to WorldCat be done in deconstructed format following current NLM practice.  If you encounter MeSH headings in WorldCat that are not in accordance with this practice, please feel free to correct them in the course of your cataloging work or report them to bibchange@oclc.org.


Fiscal Shortfall Slashes Some Canadian Libraries

May 19th, 2016

There is a general consensus among Americans, those who give it any thought at all, that Canadians are genteel and friendly and more erudite than the “ugly” American tourist often portrayed around the globe.  Americans not close to the Canadian border know the country for its single payer medical plan either widely touted or widely vilified.  Those of us on the border have a different view of our neighbors-frustration, perhaps, of their shopping habits though happily accepting of their cash; endless bridge waits and knowledge of their incredibly high taxes—hence the medical care for all and the reason they’re here shopping.  However, I think we mostly believe that their cultural institutions don’t suffer the way ours do.  We expect that their high taxes account for a nice cushion in budgets both educational and cultural.  That made the news that over half of Newfoundland’s libraries would have to close because of budget deficits.  Newfoundland is a mainly rural geographic setting and this closure is being touted as a move to a regional system that would have more funds to operate but this will mean that many of the province’s population will be within 30 minutes of a branch.  30 minutes would not generally comfort a U.S. taxpayer.  This move came after Newfoundland instituted a 10 percent tax on books to be topped by the federal  5 percent.

Fortunately for the population, outrage has been country-wide so there was little need to fan the flames but, because of the provincial deficit, it currently doesn’t look promising for a reinstatement.  Misery doesn’t always love company but it’s poignant to know that library closures are not limited to short-sighted U.S. communities.  The problem is none of us seem to have come up with an answer.

Read more.   And even more.

Podcasting by Jaclyn McKewan

May 16th, 2016

Mandi Shepp has presented for WNYLRC before, and this time her husband, Chris, joined her for a presentation on podcasting. Mandi and Chris (along with another couple) are co-hosts of a trivia podcast called “The Thirteenth Four,” although it’s soon to be renamed, “This is My Normal Speaking Voice.”



So what is a podcast? The term usually describes an audio program that is published online, and may be run as a series. You can listen from your computer or download the file (such as .mp3) to your phone or music player. This can be done manually, or with apps (such as iTunes) that automatically download your subscribed shows as they become available.

The content can be anything:

  • News podcasts, like those produced by NPR
  • Interviews, which are pretty much exactly like a standard radio show
  • Fans analyzing the latest episode of a particular TV show
  • Discussion of politics
  • Education, such as learning a new language or improving your grammar

And as Mandi and Chris showed, the tools are available for anyone to create their own podcast and get listeners – you don’t have to be NPR. Any microphone that you can plug into your computer will work for recording, although you could also spend money on a higher-quality microphone, and possibly a mixer to feed the sound into the computer.

The workshop was definitely interactive as all of us attendees made a recording during the session. We had a round-table conversation on what we had learned so far and our thoughts on podcasting, while Chris took notes and turned them into a short script. We then took turns saying our lines into the microphone.

To edit your recording, you can use free software like Audacity, or paid software like Adobe Audition. The latter is what Mandi demonstrated when she edited our recording as we watched.

You can listen to our short recording


Genealogy: Finding the Family You Never Knew

May 3rd, 2016

There are not many who can usurp a librarian’s role as researcher unless it’s the genealogist.  Even then, this is a symbiotic relationship and one of complete collaboration.  Who knows better what lurks in archives than the gatekeepers of those goods?  Previously, tracing family trees was the province of those with idle time on their hands who didn’t mind long afternoons with dusty oversize tabloids and magnifying glasses and white gloves.  Now, however, with the advent of personal-for-pay DNA possibilities and commercials informing us that we may have been living a lie with regard to our ethnicity, the quest for “who we are” is not only growing business but one of immense interest to everyone.  Not all groups have been fortunate enough to have had their ancestors’ lives chronicled or to be able to afford a professional genealogist to spend months doing the “dirty work” of scavenging old records.  Now, though, libraries and historical societies can attest that their archives are coming out of the stacks with frequency and much credit for that can be given to TV and two programs in particular:  Who Do You Think You Are and PBS’ Finding Your Roots.  Dr. Henry Louis Gates whose own interest in his family tree started as a young boy has done more than any other individual to popularize the use of these sometimes buried documents to give face to our ancestors and, from those who have been televised these last years on the program, it is apparent that not many of us know very much about our families further than an immediate past.  Dr. Gates reveals how this interest took shape and how it has grown in two interviews, one in a recent LJ and one from a magazine dedicated to this genre.

The Student as Researcher

April 25th, 2016

Pedagogy is defined as “the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept” and, though the concept of students as researchers is not new, the adjustment of student as a collaborator and associate rather than the receptacle for knowledge is coming into its own.  Though student as an independent thinker and researcher is probably a more prominent tactic overseas, the shift towards research and inquiry has to be undertaken by all aspects of the higher academic community and, certainly, no one in this scenario would exclude the librarian.

Ultimately, whether this student-as-researcher curriculum results in internships, foreign exchange, original experimentation and data collection or in-depth subject area study, some type of documentation will have to be presented and that involves the fine art of scholarly writing and research into the hows of that.  Hence, the importance of the presence of the librarian on that leg of the journey.

For an instructive look at how this approach to teaching can bring about a whole new kind of “colleague” in the form of student researchers, read this paper from an approach in the UK.