Posts Tagged ‘cataloguing’

Captured in Lincoln

Posted on July 30th, 2012 by Trevor Jones

Task analysis data was captured from two University of Lincoln Library Cataloguers using Horizon cataloguing software. The task: to input data for a range of publications – some with an ISBN and some without.

Once again the method employed was a ‘cognitive interview’ variation, recorded with screen capture and voiced running commentary of the activity undertaken and accompanying points-of-view about the user interface, processes, functionality, issues encountered and frustrations with the system.
Empirical observations were also undertaken with a further line of enquiry with the participants in relation to key points-of-note arising from the observations.

  • The Time Team may not have found this software too historic but perhaps still be worthy of some trench digging and carbon dating. Although software updates have improved the user interface, band aids have a limited amount of sticky.
  • Findings: the participants have approximately eight and ten years experience respectively with the software and are therefore normalised to its idiosyncrasies.
    • Entered text does not persist across key fields – cataloguer has to enter text several times for different screens.
    • The classic grey user interface provides a ‘vanilla’ boxy containment for displaying data. Navigation is via MS standard toolbar with additional custom buttons and a retro Windows hierarchical file system (NICE!) ;)
    • Navigation methods change for different screens – Editing items uses ‘next’ and ‘previous’ navigation buttons. Whereas, Marc record editing uses ‘page up’ and ‘page down’ buttons.
    • Once within the Marc editor, the cataloguer is unable to go back to the search screen to locate further information; a new search must be performed.
    • Whilst within a MARC record, there is no option to save the current state of the record – all edits are performed whilst the record is open.
    • Windows do not sit behind Horizon – they have to be minimised.
    • Unable to easily select and copy all text within a text field (some text fields are too small).
    • Redundant data – there are a number of tags that are apparently not required within the Marc record and time is taken to manually strip these out.
    • Macros – although we didn’t get to see this in action – the participants use their customised macros to perform many of the actions that would otherwise be monotonous and time consuming. Requires further investigation.
    • There is a mixture of similar usability issues with Lincoln’s software with that of Cambridge, with additional aspects inherent to each cataloguing system. In both cases the cataloguers have many years of experience with the software and the procedures involved in the decision making of how data is processed.

Both Lincoln and Cambridge cataloguing staff perform the same process which is to: create records or edit existing records; edit the information within the record, which may require additional resources to provide information to complete the record such as from Dewey, Citrix, Clarify, Library of Congress or the British Library, and to save the file – see diagram below.

Thanks to our Lincoln Cataloguer participants: Bev Jones and Jill Partridge.

Captured in Cambridge

Posted on July 27th, 2012 by Trevor Jones

Cambridge CLOCK hack – our next phase in the task analysis process captured data from two University of Cambridge Library Cataloguers. The participants used Ex Libris’s cataloguing software: Voyager – cataloguing client (different from the software used at the University of Lincoln), to input data for a range of publications, some with ISBN numbers (an ISBN being a unique identifier and therefore efficient form of record retrieval) and some without. If the ISBN does not exist, a search for a publication (to see if it already exists in the system) is searched using keywords – author and title.

Using the same tried-and-tested method ‘cognitive interview’, as used for previous data capture, participant usage-data was recorded with voiced running commentary of the activity undertaken and accompanying points-of-view about the user interface, processes, functionality, issues encountered and frustrations with the system.

Empirical observations were also undertaken with a further line of enquiry with the participants in relation to key points-of-note arising from the observations.

  • The software in use could well be investigated by Tony Robinson and the Time Team, having an aesthetic of Windows 3.1 and the usability effectiveness of a glove with three fingers… that’s fine if you only have three fingers, ah but which three?
    • However, the participants have approximately ten years a-piece of experience with the software and are therefore normalised to its idiosyncrasies.
    • The classic grey user interface provides a ‘vanilla’ boxy containment for displaying data, whilst sporting an interesting array of buttons with ambiguous metaphor and functionality – at least each button has a text description to accompany the button’s picture – phew.
    • The data presentation is structured in such a way that to access it, one is required to make further selections to gain access and drill down into the data, which then appears in a separate dialogue box.
    • Functionality is restricted to out-dated UI controls which prevent users from interacting with data in a way that is expected of modern software applications and operating systems. For instance, no drag and drop, and moving items can only be performed one at a time.
    • Redundant data – there are a number of tags that are apparently not required within the Marc record and time is taken to manually strip these out.
    • Representation of data – when viewing multiple records, each opens in a separate window, for which the participants move around the screen in an attempt to find a good position to scan and compare the records. The more records on the screen, the more cluttered the process.
    • Navigation – it can be difficult to assess where you are within the system – some form of sign posting and bread-crumbing would be useful.
    • Macros – although we didn’t get to see this in action – the participants like to use their customised macros to perform many of the actions that would otherwise be monotonous and time consuming. Requires further investigation.
  • It is evident that issues of usability exist as an artefact of the software as a result of common software design trends of the age; and thus restrictions of a proprietary build: aesthetic, layout, metaphor, representation of data, and functional restriction.
  • It is also evident that the cataloguers have a lot of experience with the software and the procedures involved in the decision making of how data is processed – which records to select, which fields to update, which checks to make etc. It not unexpected that a certain amount of specialised knowledge is required, however, a new member of staff would appear to be faced with a steep learning curve for these systems.

So it’s back to Lincoln to capture data from cataloguers using the Horizon system – this will provide insight to Cambridge and Lincoln’s processes and how they differ, whilst also highlighting aspects of processes and functions that work well and for which we can replicate in our user-friendly Open library system.

Thanks to our Cambridge Cataloguer participants: Celine Carty and David Rushmer.

Slides on the CLOCK project for #Mashcat (Cambridge mashed library cataloguing event)

Posted on July 5th, 2012 by Paul Stainthorp

Mashcat logoA whole contingent from Lincoln—Andrew Beeken, Trevor Jones, Elif Varol and I—are at the Cambridge University Clinical School at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, for a mashed library event – Mashcat.

Mashcat is “a mashed library event focussing on cataloguing data. For cataloguers, developers and anyone else with an interest in how library catalogue data can be created, manipulated, used and re-used by computers and software”. It’s being sponsored by DevCSI.

We’re presenting about the CLOCK project to a room full of cataloguers. No pressure. The slides are online at: http://lncn.eu/hknp

CLOCK and a summary of 2 other Discovery projects

Posted on May 17th, 2012 by Paul Stainthorp

Ed Chamberlain, who is on the CLOCK project team as a researcher, is involved in two other projects under the Discovery strand: OEM-UK and Open Bibliography 2. We’re looking for ways in which CLOCK can re-use data, code, processes and ideas from these projects (and elsewhere) – also what CLOCK could offer in return.

Notes:

  • Open Biblio project over the last few years; aim to aggregate large amounts of bibliographic data for scientific discovery.
  • Data collected from Cambridge University, the BL, PubMed and held as RDF, used to power an open catalogue called “Bibliographica“.
  • Problems around scaling the data/system led to the current JISC-funded Open Biblio 2project (in the meantime, Cambridge and the BL had started to publish their data openly).
  • Open Biblio 2 started looking at a NoSQL approach (CouchDB, Lucene/Solr) – eventually settling on Elastic Search.
  • The approach of Open Biblio is to build bottom-up, community tools: BibServer and BibSoup(“Like Wikimedia for bib data”). Raises interesting questions about data quality in an open community-driven system.
  • Also looking at JSON as lightweight way of sharing bib data: emerging BibJSON convention for representing bibliographic record as a JSON object (Ed wrote a MARC-to-BibJSON-parser in Perl). N.B. BibJSON is not a million miles away from the JSON that Jerome spits out! There are three hack days taking place next month in London to look specifically at BibJSON.
  • Open Biblio 2 is also looking at JSON-LD (JSON for Linking Data), a ‘real’ JSON standard which does a lot of the things that RDF does.

tl;dr = use their JSON standards and BibSoup as a data source.

  • The second project, OEM-UK (Open Education Metadata UK), based at the IoE in London, is focusing on cataloguing workflows.
  • Data from the IoE’s SirsiDynix catalogue, plus EPrints is drawn into a Drupal framework; forms to create data (autopopulation of forms); “cataloguing the Drupal way”.
  • Thought from Andrew Beeken: could we replicate this approach, using WordPress custom post types to store and display structured content? Shades of the OPACPressproject which Joss Winn and I proposed—but that was not funded—several years ago.
  • Some evidence that this approach is capable of speeding up the cataloguing process considerably: the more data you put in the faster it gets! Ed has some screencapture videos from OEM-UK showing workflow, including grabbing data via Zotero.
  • td;dr = OEM-UK are also successfully disrupting cataloguing workflows.

    Hack da Fens: open bib hack day objectives!

    Posted on May 17th, 2012 by Paul Stainthorp

    Most of the CLOCK project team (ABECCLTJPS) are at CARET in Cambridge today and tomorrow (17-18 May 2012) to generally hack bibliographic data and try and point the way for the remaining 2 months’ technical development for the CLOCK project.

    After coffee on day 1 we agreed our objectives for the next two days. They are:

    1. To review what we’ve done so far and what we need to do. To play with the SPARQL and JSON-parsing search tools that Andrew Beeken has started to develop and to incorporate more data (BL, etc.)
    2. To think about the user interface for CLOCK: how do we present open bib data from multiple sources (Lincoln, Cambridge, Harvard, BL, OpenLibrary, other) in a single UI in a way which helps our users (cataloguers. researchers) solve problems?
    3. What’s the high level architecture for CLOCK? How does data flow thru’ the system – can we draw a meaningful diagram?
    4. A comparison of open data / Discovery projects that Ed Chamberlain is involved in! What can we take and re-use from OpenBiblio2 and the OEM-UK project? What might those projects be able to take and re-use from CLOCK?
    5. What are we going to do with all this data? A plan forhttp://data.lincoln.ac.uk/http://data.lib.cam.ac.uk/, and http://data.ac.uk/library (or http://library.data.ac.uk/).
    6. To run interviews and live cognitive workthroughs with cataloguers in Cambridge and Lincoln.