Life as a cataloging practicum student – Part 3

Part three of my diary from by 2007 practicum at Silver Buckle Press

Week of November 5th

Series statements are tricky little buggers. Earlier this year I attended the LC series authority training and saw firsthand that neither series statements nor their authority records like to behave. Part of that can be blamed on the publishers, but another part of the blame go towards catalogers who 1. Should have known better or 2. Had no clue whatsoever when it comes to series statements so they threw in whatever seemed appropriate to them and local institution. [1] Needless to say, I’ve run into my fair share of dodgy 490/830 fields during this practicum.
Thursday proved to be the day when the publisher gets more of the blame. A short biography of a famous type designer had the first edition date, but the OCLC record showed a 490/830 series statement which I could not find on the item. I ran the item pass Jamie, and he couldn’t find any series statement on the item either. His best guess was that soon after the first edition was published the publisher then decided to add something to the cover or dust jacket to indicate that it was part of an existing series. We ended up creating a new record due to the lack of series statement.

Week of November 12th

This week was the week of getting to the problem items that I had put off for a while. The first item I worked on was the disembodied Hamilton catalog with no front and back pages. This item proved easier to catalog than I previously thought. The running titles on the pages gave me a clue as to the title of the item. The running title would include the specific item being featured (like perpetual calendars) and then be followed by “manufactured by the Hamilton Mfg. Co.” So, add all these different items being featured, and you would get the title “Specimens of wood type, wood ornaments, indexes, dashes, silhouettes, corners, catchwords, perpetual calendars, borders, star rule and wood rule manufactured by the Hamilton Mfg. Co.” This title also happens to be the title of the catalog. I found two holdings for the item in OCLC which one copy was missing pages and the other copy was complete. By the description of the record I was sure that what I had was what the record was describing; however, I felt unsure about adding our holding to the OCLC record due to the missing front pages. I did not know if I had to create a new record with brackets around the title and page count since I did not have a complete copy with a title page. I went to Jamie with the question of adding our holding. Since Tracy mentioned that she is going to try to get replacement pages and that we both were pretty sure that this item is the same item being described in OCLC, Jamie suggested that I add our holding to the existing record with a 500 note saying that we are missing the front and back pages with reproductions pending.

The other set of items I cataloged were the set of local type specimen catalogs that Tracy could not get definite dates for. She had a couple of ideas regarding date ranges, but that seemed to be the closest that she could place the catalogs. Also, since these catalogs were small local companies, Annenberg would not have them listed. I had to find other means of dating them. I went through each catalog to see if I could dig up at least a calendar specimen or a year that was used in one of the specimens. Some I could not find any indicators, like Wisconsin Cuneo Press’s Type specimens, so they ended up with the date [19uu]. Others I was to get the date range down to a decade, like Impressions, Inc.’s catalog, due to finding a date in the catalog text.

Week of November 26th

This week was an interesting week to say the least. I’ve been trying to concentrate on items that I’ve been putting off for one reason or another and tried to get the issues resolved so I can catalog those items before I leave. In addition I have to change the cutter numbers for the American Type Foundry items that Jessie cataloged at his time. Throw the training manual on top of that, and you have one busy practicum student.

Alas, there is yet one more thing to throw onto the pile. It seems that there is a bigger issue that has to be resolved stemming from Jessie’s records. While searching for a specimen catalog in OCLC, I came across a couple of records for catalogs that we held. Half out of curiosity and the rest out of biding time before my shift ended, I opened the records only to see that the formatting was outdated and lacked subject headings. After scratching my head a couple times, I took the OCLC number from the record and searched Voyager, only to find that the Voyager record has been updated to AACR2r standards along with subject headings with Jessie’s name listed as the creator. I took note of the OCLC number and went back to my results list in OCLC to look at the other records. The same thing happened for two other records. This leaves me to suspect that Jessie updated the record in OCLC instead of replacing the record and then updating our holdings in OCLC. I suspect that because a similar thing happens with continuing resources in OCLC for UW-Madison. The university cannot replace records for continuing resources in OCLC, but we can edit and update the record. Even though it looks like the record is changed in OCLC and the exported record in Voyager has the changes, the original record in OCLC did not change. When you leave that record and come back to it later, the record will revert back to its original form.

I am left with the choice of either saying tough luck to the problem OCLC records and go on focusing on my specific projects, or tie up the loose ends I have now and focus on getting these records fixed. While I do have a couple issue items of my own that I need to spend more time on, it would probably be better if I fixed the OCLC records now instead of leaving them for the next person. I don’t know when the next student will take up this practicum so I don’t want the discrepancy of these records to stand for a long while. There is also the issue of accessing materials through OCLC. Due the specific nature of the type specimen catalogs, care is needed in both descriptive and subject cataloging. I have yet to see a record in OCLC for a type catalog that shows that type of care. I’ve run into records that only have the 110, 245, 260, and 300 fields, and even then the cataloging in those fields is not complete or in the correct format. By creating a fuller record this provides more access to the item through searches and browsing. If the fuller record was just left in Voyager, then only those who have access to MadCat would be able to take advantage of the better record. Finally, it wouldn’t be consistent of this project to fix most of the records in OCLC and then leave a few unchanged.

The next step, after deciding to fix the records, is to see if I can export records from Voyager to OCLC. I do not know the extent of the issue with Jessie’s items since I only have gone through around five items; however I am planning to find more records like the ones I found above, and I’d like to know if there is an option besides cutting and pasting from Voyager to OCLC. I asked Jamie and Debi and they both do not know if we are able to export into OCLC. Debi also asked Victor in the original cataloging department, and he said that he would look into it and get back to me next week. Considering that next week is the site visit and the end of my practicum, I hope that there will be an answer before Thursday afternoon.

Week of December 3rd
The quote for this week is “so much to do, so little time to do it.” In the end, I was able to wrap up the loose ends. I went through Jessie’s records and found that the problem was not as widespread as I thought. There was around seven to eight records that needed updating in OCLC. Unfortunately I did not hear back from Victor about exporting records into OCLC, so I ended up cutting and pasting. Nonetheless, since there were only a handful of records that needed to be changed, I was fine with cutting and pasting. Tracy was a little concerned about spending the time I had left with fixing the records, but it needed to be done and I knew what to do to get it done.
I ended up with some time left for more cataloging after going through the records. Again, the collection proved to be an adventure to catalog. Yet again I ended up using the Alembic Press website to date items by their job cases. There was one catalog that sold their own type and selected job cases from Hamilton (good old Hamilton again…). While I did not get a definite date out of the web site, I was able to get the date range down to the decade, along with other cues from the content of the catalog. At the very end of my shift I cataloged two small booklets: Learn to Fish With Old Man Wachel and Catfishin Know How. Both were done by the same man who self published them in 1969 at Elkhorn, WI. Neither of them were in OCLC so new records were created. This was a nice way to end the practicum- two unique items that were interesting to both read and catalog.


[1] The same things could be said of the publishers, especially the ones that publish multiple series and the series statements are still confusing to decipher.

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