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online databases and/or serials--another go at it Elizabeth Brown 13 Jan 1997 22:32 UTC

At 04:36 PM 1/9/97 EST, Elizabeth Brown wrote:
2 paragraphs, among others, where I used the term "computer file" as opposed
to "computer file monograph" to describe how to catalog Web databases.

Kevin Randall then wrote later on 1/9/97:
>I'm wondering if our use of terminology can get us confused.  I am troubled
>by a distinction between "computer file" and "serial", as if the two are
>mutually exclusive. Of course Elizabeth Brown is most likely thinking in
>terms of FORMATS, but one could take her suggestion to mean that if you
>catalog something as a computer file you can't also consider it a serial.

Um, noooo, I never really meant to say anything about "computer file" and
"serial" having a distinction making them mutually exclusive. (in fact, I
don't think that's really possible for electronic titles, you know?) I
suggested in a *specific instance* 'don't mentally refer to a Web database
as a "computer file monograph" if the word "monograph" IS A STUMBLING BLOCK
to completing the cataloging of it (as opposed to attempting to do it
bizarrely as a "computer file serial").' (Phew!) I then tried to follow
through by using "computer file" sans monograph in the rest of my message,
which was quoted as being troubling as it most likely was. I'm sorry if my
(mis?)use of terminology obfuscated all the other advice I was trying to
give Beth Guay! Apologies!

[Actually, I think I am on the same wave-length to an extent with Kevin
Randall. I was excited when Crystal Graham and Becky Ringler's paper on
"bibliographical hermaphrodites" originally appeared, and I am still very
much in favor of the creation of a new bibliographic level. (Stand up for
hermaphrodites' rights! No bibliographic scalpels! :) ---referring to Beth
Guay's clever ER analogy on 1/10/97).

But the frustrating thing is that while we discuss this problem at length
(which is very necessary---please continue!!) or wait for some sort of
magical transformation of formats and rules (I trust that this is coming!!),
we need to create consistent cataloging for these Web databases NOW using
the formats and guidelines available NOW (Beth Guay's aquatic sciences
constituents need to find that ASFA database in the catalog TODAY even while
she is working to change the world on SERIALST). I said originally from a
PRACTICAL standpoint that cataloging Web databases can be done
satisfactorily enough for the time being with the "tools" (including the
quite clear guidelines on what's NOT a "serial") currently available. (And,
I was glad to read Crystal Graham's very helpful and informative memo posted
1/10/97 (Thanks!)]

>different formats in different files... (BTW, I have never understood this
>division of serials and non-serials in online catalogs; is it merely a
>database design matter, or does it have some philosophical basis?)

One basic thing is how we've trained users---*they* make a distinction,
therefore, database design should still follow this need. Users search for
journals specifically ("what journals do you have on plasma physics?";
"where's a list of your journals?") and format is useful when you are
searching for a particular journal in a system (like Georgia Tech's) that is
solely keyword searching (which is probably unusual). I think the idea for a
"book" record with a serial 006 is intriguing! It would be consistent with
the rest of format integration, wouldn't it.

Elizabeth Brown
Catalog Librarian
Georgia Tech Library
Atlanta, Georgia 30332-0900
404-894-1723 (fax)