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CODE4LIB  January 2012

CODE4LIB January 2012

Subject:

Re: Metadata war stories...

From:

Chris Fitzpatrick <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Code for Libraries <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 10:56:13 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (42 lines)

I was part of a particularly long siege during the METS offensive back in '08. It was brutal. We pretty much ran out of everything and were fighting hand-to-hand before the whole thing was over.

I remember toward the end, while out on requirement gathering patrol, my team came up on a group of rouge library staff who had separated from their cataloging unit. They were just sitting there, literally a few feet away, taking a chow break. We were heavily outnumbered and out-gunned, but it was a dark night, so I hoped we could just lie low and let them pass. But they started talking about how they were plotting a move to take out our dmdSec with some kind of RDF improvised explosive devise. I knew this would set us back months and would result in a great loss of many of my fellow developers and librarians. So, I ordered my team into action…since we had surprise on our side, we were able to even the numbers by taking out several of their squad. Their manager order them to fall back and they retreated up a hill. Several of my team started whooping and hollering like we'd won something, but I knew they were just regrouping to hit back at us.

And, boy, did they ever hit back. We had a prolonged shoot out.  I knew they longer this went, the more likely they'd be able to call in reinforcements or possibly get us with a Faculty-lead napalm strike. So, I made the quick decision to charge their position. We bounced up the hill, taking cover behind trees, rocks, corpses, and whatever we could. We took heavy fire, but we got to the top. And that's when all hell broke lose. 

I've killed my fair share of people. In combat, you just learn to live with that. But there's something about strangling someone with your bare hands that just leaves a lasting impression. What happened on that hill comes back to me like nothing else. The screams and the faces and the smell. I talked to that doc and went to some ALA conferences, but whiskey seems to be the only thing that helps. 

They say we won that war, but most of the time I'm not sure we did….war's not over for me. It's never over. 



On Jan 25, 2012, at 10:13 AM, Kyle Banerjee wrote:

>> For our preconference, “Digging into Metadata,” we’d like to get a little
>> discussion going to build on once the preconference rolls around.
>> 
>> ...
>> - Dealing with free text in MARC records and how to parse them w/o too much
>> heartache
>> 
> 
> You can find horrendous stories even with data that's fully structured.
> Multiple libraries have had call numbers not migrated (or the wrong one
> migrated due to the unfortunate practice of most libraries to retain
> multiple call numbers) during an ILS migration -- as you can imagine, that
> would make books much harder to find on the shelves. I can't remember the
> names of institutions this happened to, but you could probably find someone
> who can give you precise details on the autocat list.
> 
> There is the constant problem that in any migration, the data is not
> structured/used the same way in the new system as in the old -- some fields
> exist in one system but not the other, different numbers/types of fields
> are used to represent concepts, etc.
> 
> I've personally encountered cases where the data that comes out of a system
> is outright invalid or gets mangled in bizarre ways by the export routine
> itself. For example, there's a system used for many digital archives that
> splits a field in two anytime a field that needs to be represented by an
> XML entity is encountered. Name withheld to protect the guilty.
> 
> kyle

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