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More Cataloger’s Desktop comments

The Library of Congress’s Cataloging Distribution Service is doing a survey on the development of its Cataloger’s Desktop, which they are planning to overhaul. They seem keen to rework it for the web rather than replicating the CD product it is based on. I hope they think profoundly about this to make sure it is properly a web-based resource or, as I would prefer, a loose collection of separately accessible resources. Below are the comments I put in answer to one of the earlier questions on general satisfaction:

The content is second to none, but the presentation of the content is appalling:

  1. It is extremely unwieldy: there is no reason to shoehorn everything into one package and one great list. E.g. AACR2 would be better presented as a separate product as it is complex enough as it is. Rather than having shaky preferences, I would like to see separate sites for which I can produce my own list of links, as I do anyway for other sites.
  2. Despite being presented on the web, the site tries its hardest to discard the advantages of the web by imposing its own interface. This is bad practice as it means another interface to learn and is not intuitive (e.g. I cannot use the Back button to go back, or link to a section of a resource). Standard HTML pages are more than up to the job. I don’t think a system like this is very successful if you have to provide training in how to use it: it would be like inventing a different kind of book where you have to train readers in how to turn the pages.
  3. There is no need to have a system which has to find its way round popup-blockers: this just shouldn’t be an issue.
    These factors prevent me from using Cataloger’s Desktop nearly as often as I should. I mostly want it for quick look up of AACR2 and other standards. Instead I often find myself referring to an out-of-date paper copy for simple rules and abbreviations. I was hoping to have weaned myself off it by now.

My previous comments on a similar survey in 2005 are here.

Library-themed weddings

Speaking as a librarian married to another librarian whose brother is a librarian I still cannot find the stomach to appreciate this library-themed wedding (via post on Autocat mailing list), although I am unusually sensitive to work-home infringements. One commenter also apparently had a library themed wedding with Dewey-numbered tables at the reception. Another commenter also claimed:

We did the same with the birth annoucment [sic] for our youngest. We put a shelf of books on the announcement, each with a name of our older children and ourselves with a Dewey number on each book befitting each of us. We sent these announcements out to library friends…

When our youngest was born, I barely had enough energy to compile a round-robin email and throw a few photos onto the computer. Quite how this person managed something so elaborate with at least two other children to look after I don’t know. Good on them though: maybe the other children helped, or something.


Today is my birthday. Hooray. Inspired by sil’s age-guessing quizzes, I here present some library and information science equivalents. My age is now the same as the following:

  • The Dewey Decimal number for General encyclopedic works in English
  • The UDC number for Politics
  • The MARC21 number for a Postal Registration Number (whatever that is)

The last one is a right giveaway.

Stephen Fry on GNU and Linux

The two great pillars of Open Source are the GNU project and Linux. I shan’t burden you with too much detail, I’ll just make the outrageous claim that your computer will be running some descendant of those two within the next five years and that your life will be better and happier as a result.

I am writing this article on a kind of mini John the Baptist, a system that prepares the way of the software saviour whose coming will deliver the 90% of world computer users who suffer under Windows from the expensive, clumsy, costly, ugly, pricey toils of Microsoft.

(Stephen Fry’s weblog). I’m disappointed he didn’t mention the burden of viruses too. Anyway, I hope Mr Fry does have the same powers of prescience as the original John T. Baptist.

BBC Breakfast extra content on Freeview

If you are watching BBC Breakfast on Freeview, you can get access to more in-depth news coverage by pressing the following secret combination of buttons on the remote control:

Mute, 3, Text, OK

Follow the on-screen instructions. To be honest, you can probably just switch to channel 18 where the sight of Rihanna writhing around on a bed for Ne-Yo’s benefit* will deliver a more perceptive insight into the day’s current affairs than Bill Turnbull and friends fawning at each other.

*or not?!