MARC, OPACs, and Podcasts

I've been reading up on the history of descriptive cataloging of electronic resources for a presentation I need to do and I thought it would be fun to look at how catalogers are dealing with podcasts in their OPACs. Our tech lab has been asking us to catalog some of the podcasts they've created. My plan was to catalog one of the podcasts and use it as a sample in the presentation. Here's how that idea rapidly unfurled today:

  • Read through the OLAC Cataloging Policy Committee's Streaming Media Best Practices Task Force at about noon, thinking this would be a great resource. And I didn't stop to think that podcasts aren't streaming media. D'oh.
    This paper is specifically for all the streaming media that we should probably catalog from the Library of Congress (RealPlayer?! really?). Okay, okay, okay, Jay Weitz must have something on podcasts somewhere else.

  • Did a search through OLAC's website and checked out their Useful website page but didn't find much of anything on podcasts.

  • I then did a few simple literature searches on Proquest, Haworth and LISTA. Plenty of articles on making podcasts, none on cataloging them.

  • Maybe I'm over-thinking it and I should just see what other people have done in their OPACS. Learn through example if I can't locate a best practices.

  • Got to Worldcat. STOP. How do you search for podcasts in OPACS? I wouldn't type in "book" or "magazine" or even "electronic resource." Have other catalogers used podcast in their 245s? I wouldn't since it's redundant. Ah what the heck- Worldcat, show me electronic resources that have a keyword of podcast! Hurrah. 80 podcasts, most of them from the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction. It's a start.

  • Okay, on to Google. Deep breath- I don't want to spend all day fiddling with delimiters so let's hope I have the right combination...

  • Success! A library in Orange County, Florida is cataloging their podcasts, but they don't seem to appear in Worldcat, let's put this as a bookmark in del.icio.us.

  • Now that I have some hope, let's try to find more. Library of Congress. Nope. Doesn't even look like they've cataloged their webcasts.

  • MIT? Main page has a link to libraries under "research" and a special section for videos, but videos are not in the catalog as far as I could tell. (This was the ace up my sleeve since I was sure MIT would have cataloged their videos).

  • My next attempt- Yale. The other university that I know has quite a few podcasts in ITunesU. Nope. Well, maybe somewhere buried but I couldn't find podcasts from August 2007 in either Orbis or the LibraryWeb.

  • U of Michigan, I'm looking at you. Let's see what Mirlyn has for me. I chose "Trail of Snails" from the list at ITunesU. Nothing.

  • Okay now I'm getting paranoid. Have I completely lost my ability to search an OPAC to find these items? Or are they really not there?

  • I could go through the rest of ITunesU but how much more time am I going to spend searching dead ends in different OPACs.

  • 10:30 at night, I've found about 10 other things I should look at but I still have very little idea on special considerations for cataloging a podcast.

  • One last search through Autocat's archives. About 30 matches, most of them from 2006 and 2007 asking if anyone has added podcasts to their OPAC. Glad I didn't ask that question again. I think I found three catalogers who provide links to catalogs with podcasts, one of which is the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library at the University of Virginia. This is one of the few libraries I was able to read about in my literature search but the article did not have a link to the library's catalog. I also found a link to sunlibrary from Sun Microsystems, but that link is dead.

  • The best post I found on AUTOCAT was from Patricia Sayre McCoy who provided an OCLC number to one of her cataloged podcasts. I feel like I have a key to the locked door and I'll try it tomorrow.

So what have I learned from my initial search?

  1. Everyone's talking about 'em but I don't see a whole lot of cataloging going on.

  2. I'm going to really go out on a limb this week and attempt a catalog record using the different sources and samples I was able to find.

  3. I'm really scared to do a search to see if any weblogs are being cataloged out there. (They must right? They're older that podcasts.)

  4. Most of the podcasts I used as search samples are found on library websites, just not as part of their OPAC. How can we convince users that the OPAC can be so much more than an electronic card catalog if we're not adding the material to it? I thought the addition of creative commons PDFs to the Nebraska Library Commision's catalog are a brilliant example of how we can add accessible content to the OPAC.

  5. This whole trek brings up the specter of a digital repository and that's like handing a loaded gun to a small technical services.

At this point I'm back to thinking that the easiest way to catalog podcasts would be to treat them as digital audio files and sound recording.
BUT there is a continuing resource angle to their production.
BUT podcasts also fit the definition of an electronic resource.
BUT podcasts aren't direct electronic resources (unless you copy them to CDs which seems to be a cataloging nightmare).
So maybe they're remotely accessed electronic resources.
Yes, I'm now thinking that podcasts are remotely-accessed electronic resources and can be cataloged using good old chapter 9 from AACR2.

Next morning I have a few more things to check out and I was able to look at Patricia Sayre McCoy's record to see how she catalogs podcasts. I think I'm ready to get my hands dirty in some MARC.


Anonymous Cynthia Williams said...

Did you ever really figure out how to catalog a PODCAST?

3:36 PM  
Blogger john said...

I did create a valid MARC record for a podcast, but our cataloging department never got around to using it for the items. Looks like Tufts has had more success.

9:21 PM  

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