TalkAthens GA flash mob planned for Classics collection

Flash-Mob Cataloging

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Athens GA flash mob planned for Classics collection

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Sep 2, 2009, 2:01pm

We're starting to plan a flash-mob to catalog the collection of books in the Alexander Room in the UGA department of Classics. The collection has about 12 bookcases, 5-6 shelves each, full of books, so I'm estimating maybe 4-5000 items (several things are large multi-volume sets). We're planning to have UGA librarians, and Classics faculty and students, as our work team, but we'd welcome any interested helpers from the Librarything community (no ability to read Greek and Latin required!)

We've just set a date of Saturday October 24 at 10am.

This collection doesn't circulate, so that's not an issue in tagging. I'm planning to label the shelves and add shelf numbers as tags so people can find things (currently the collection is grouped by subject, and a print catalog exists.) A major issue I wonder about is how to handle things like encyclopedias (we have, for example, Brill's New Pauly in about 17 volumes). Since they don't circulate, should we just do an encyclopedia as one entry? We also have sets (i.e. Loeb Classical Library) but I am thinking we can just tag each item in a set (i.e. Loeb) but catalog them individually. Any thoughts on these issues?

Sep 2, 2009, 2:13pm

I would definitely do the sets as separate entries, because they'll combine better with other editions and better represent the collection. I was also going to ask about needing to read Greek, but it sounds like you've thought that through. Good luck!

Sep 2, 2009, 5:16pm

Also, I tend to think "Oh, I saw that in a Loeb edition", and I doubt I'm the only one...

Sep 3, 2009, 8:03am

I just thought of something -- the library records you find for the Greek books will all have Romanized titles (a holdover from when computers couldn't display Greek characters), so you'll want to have this chart handy:

Sep 3, 2009, 9:29am

Oh, thanks, that's an issue I had forgotten about. I've never tested it, but does Librarything support Unicode? (I'm assuming yes; I know Tim was a Classics grad student once!) It would be great if we could pull records from a library that has a Unicode-supporting catalog that has some in-Greek records for the newer stuff - I was planning to use UGA's GIL catalog as our main source catalog, but it does not support Unicode and everything is romanized.

I suppose if we were feeling very ambitious we could convert romanized titles into Unicode if Librarything supports it...

Sep 3, 2009, 12:30pm

Well, yes and no. You can upload the titles (assuming you can find an appropriate source) and they will display and be stored properly, but searching and sorting non-romanized data is not supported.

Before you embark on this project you might want to ask Tim about the status of the "revamped search" that's been promised, and whether it will fix this issue. Tim's a Classics guy, he'll be sympathetic.

Sep 3, 2009, 12:43pm

>It would be great if we could pull records from a library that has a Unicode-supporting catalog that has some in-Greek records for the newer stuff.

Unfortunately, I think you'll be hard pressed to find one. Despite the fact that most library catalogs should be able to support Unicode, at this point, I haven't ever seen a catalog that supported Greek or Cyrillic text (although some libraries are making progress where Arabic and CJK scripts are concerned). I don't understand why (and it's a personal pet peeve), but that's where the library world currently is. Of course, I've mostly come across this when entering Greek and Russian books for legacy libraries, so you may have some luck with newer books, but I wouldn't necessarily count on it.

>I suppose if we were feeling very ambitious we could convert romanized titles into Unicode if Librarything supports it...

That's what I've done for the Cyrillic volumes in Pushkin's library, but it's very slow going. Good luck!

Sep 3, 2009, 4:33pm

I'd leave them romanized until other letters get some sort of decent alphabetizing. Or at least start with the first word of the romanized title followed by the Greek. That way you'll be able to find the books by title.

Sep 14, 2009, 12:46pm

An update for those interested in Greek fonts/Unicode in catalogs: I have found two Greek-supporting catalogs that are very useful for Classical, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies (thanks to some well-connected librarian friends).

Harvard's HOLLIS catalog (Classic only; linked from supports searching in Greek. They are adding new records for works in Greek with dual MARC fields, one in Greek Unicode and one romanized. They have started doing this since 2006, and are not currently adding anything retrospectively.

The AMBROSIA catalog, of the British and American Schools in Athens (including Gennadius; seems to have all works in Greek displaying and searchable in Greek Unicode, but NOT available romanized. I found materials going back quite far (at least to the 1930s), so I don't think they are just doing new materials in Unicode. You can get the catalog to display MARC fields in the public interface.

Unfortunately neither of these catalogs are currently options for Librarything sources. I'll be looking at the University of Patras, which is.

Nov 5, 2009, 12:50pm

Greek titles represented in AMBROSIA were never romanized, i.e., they were born Greek, first in the paper catalog dating back more than a century and then in their first pre-Aleph/AMBROSIA electronic iteration enabled by software developed in Athens to support Unicode. Another good site is Zephyr, a gateway to Greek academic library catalogs developed and maintained by the University of Crete .