[Koha] some thoughts about cataloguing and acquisition (important)

Albert P. Calame albert.p.calame at sympatico.ca
Fri Jan 17 10:25:26 NZDT 2003

Greetings All!

    I'm a Librarian and a Library Automation Consultant, and have been involved in library automation for 20 years - since the earliest days of microcomputer applications for libraries. I have been monitoring the listserv for a few days, and have become interested because of my links with the supporters of Koha in my area.  I am considering getting a couple of clients to install the system here in Montreal.

    I appreciate the comments I've seen on this list regarding the need for a good acquisitions module to make Koha strong against all competition. I agree, but not to the subordination of the cataloguing functionality. We need to improve and perfect the acquisitions function, but we must not neglect the provision of appropriate tools to create records that meet the standard.

    The standard for cataloguing - whether we like it or not - is MARC (whichever version we should standardize on is a question for another day) - and we need to be able to create entries in Koha that will produce good MARC records for those we can't fetch from somewhere else.   I advise most librarians to use the internet and to fetch MARC records from anywhere they can instead of creating them manually, and the z39.50 searching and fetching capability that I've noticed mentioned is a great tool to have integrated in the system.  Nevertheless, it does happen that there are no valid records available for certain documents, and there is a need to be able to catalogue them fully in the right structure.  Also, it is necessary to be able to edit the MARC record appropriately. Sometimes a librarian may be able to take a record for a similar title and modify it so that it will be appropriate for the new item.

    To do that, the cataloguing module must allow for the editing of all parts of the record - not a trivial matter for a data structure with 1000 variable length fields, most of which may be repeatable,  and a maximum record size of 99999 bytes. (I have an article I wrote for School Libraries in Canada called "Hitting the MARC" that discusses the use of MARC as the data structure for library automation that may help.  Send me a message and I'll forward it back to you). It would be a serious mistake to produce a system that doesn't allow for full record creation and editing the MARC structure records. It is complex enough that I suspect it should be a module of its' own.

    Just my 2 cents worth! Looking forward to some interesting discussions in the future.

Al Calame

Management Consultant,
Albert P. Calame Consulting
Montreal, Québec, Canada

albert.p.calame at sympatico.ca

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