Original Cataloging

An original cataloging situation occurs when a cataloger is unable to locate, either locally or through an external authority, existing bibliographic data for the item being described. The process outlined above for copy cataloging an item included several options for searching both locally and through an external source (OCLC) for existing bibliographic graphs related to the item with which the cataloger is working. External lookup sources could include OCLC, publisher Linked Data endpoints, and even non-traditional data sources such as booksellers and Wikipedia. In the course of a cataloger’s workflow, it is possible that no or partial data only can be found for an object. In this case, the cataloger must switch to an original cataloging workflow.

Once a cataloger has switched to an original cataloging workflow, very little will change from current original cataloging methods. The task of describing the details of the item being described will remain the same; however, cataloging in a Linked Data environment offers some distinct efficiency in the original cataloging workflow.

As discussed in Section V and Section VI of this report, Linked Data enabled cataloging workbenches have the ability to provide automatic lookup of entities at a variety of Linked Data endpoints such as OCLC, the Library of Congress, and Getty. This auto lookup feature facilitates original cataloging such that users can locate, disambiguate, and enter relevant data in a variety of fields that will be used to complete the bibliographic graph for an item. Current MARC-based cataloging systems employ similar functionality based on authority file lookup. When proper authority references are found, transitioning to Linked Data cataloging is a zero-sum-gain scenario. However, Linked Data cataloging offers workflow efficiencies in situations where no appropriate authority references can be found.

Currently, a cataloger confronted with the need for a nonexistent authority is faced with one of the following two workflows:

Option 1
1. Identify need for new authority
2. Create new authority record
3. Submit new authority record to NACO
4. Return to original cataloging and continue cataloging item

Option 2
1. Identify need for new authority
2. Submit request for new authority
3. Wait for response to request
4. Return to original cataloging and continue cataloging item

Both of the above workflows involve the cataloger moving from the current cataloging work to another workflow (and often another computing system and interface) to create or request creation of a new authority before returning (either immediately or after an undefined period of time) to the cataloging workflow.

Linked Data workbenches, such as the BIBFRAME Scribe workbench tested as part of this project, eliminate the need to step away, as it were, from the current cataloging effort to deal with authority issues. When a cataloger is unable to locate a suitable authority, the workbench prompts the cataloger to create a new authority using whatever information is currently available to the cataloger:

Figure 25: New authority in BIBFRAME Scribe

When a user creates a new authority entry, a graph for this authority is created in the local triplestore with a new, local URI. The cataloger is then returned to their ongoing cataloging effort.

When a cataloger creates a new authority using the above system, the authority is subsequently available within the local domain for all future cataloging efforts. This insures that all local cataloging efforts run efficiently, but does not, de facto, solve the larger problematics of authority control. As discussed in Section II above, Linked Data’s ability to facilitate information traversal rests on the availability of URIs over the network and also on the assumption that each entity is uniquely represented. As such, a local instance of a URI cannot function as an authority unless it is distributed across the network and is done so in a way that can be properly linked to or differentiated from other URIs in the Linked Data universe.

Section VIII below provides a more in-depth discussion of processes for managing the production of local URIs for new authorities. Relevant to the present discussion is the fact that systems can be put in place to allow for on-the-fly authority graph creation, thereby streamlining the workflows of catalogers involved in original cataloging. These efficiencies include:

1. Catalogers do not need to have in-depth knowledge of BIBFRAME’s data model or BIBFRAME vocabularies to perform cataloging because the terms used by Linked Data workbenches are the same ones currently used by catalogers
2. Catalogers do not have to leave the Editor in order to complete the cataloging work when confronted with authority issues
3. Catalogers have an option to create authority data on-the-fly and to mint local URIs which can be connected to other related URIs through a reconciliation service as discussed in Section VIII

In order to implement the above described workflow, the following systems need to be in place:

1. Robust lookup services which can interpret source data and present it in a readable format to catalogers
2. Systems for performing local authority reconciliation as described below in Section VIII

Transitioning to Linked Data cataloging using the proposed model raises the following questions for community consideration:

1. URIs are crucial in order to disambiguate or retrieve information in the Linked Data environment. As a result, the more sources a library can use, the less work needed locally. But how to find right balance? To what extent should we consider using non-traditional information sources such as commercial book sellers and Wikipedia?
2. Cataloging descriptive rules have played an important role in the card or MARC cataloging environment. In a world where most of the entities we describe can be identified by a unique ID (URI), how much descriptive data do catalogers still need to create if that information can be retrieve from other data sources, such as publishers or vendors?
3. Library of Congress subject strings played an essential role in the era when the discovery technology was string based and not always automated. With faceted navigation and other features a 21st century library discovery tool can offer, library users can narrow down their search results more easily. Given this new environment, how much value is added by having tightly controlled, nested subject strings presented to library users?
4. Instead of creating new name authority data, would it make sense for the library community to start using other authoritative URI enabled name identifiers, such as ORCID (researchers) and ISNI (individuals and organizations) IDs and focus on building context around these identifiers?

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