The Year Of Living Danishly – A Dewey Discussion

Recently, I borrowed the book The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell.  It is an autobiography of sorts; the author – a journalist – finds herself living in Denmark for a year, and sets out to find out what makes Danes the happiest people in the world.  It’s definitely memoir, lifestyle, social experiment.

And yet I found it alongside travel guides for Denmark.
Cover of book

Why? How is this possible?

Well, it turns out that most libraries classify it as

900 – History and Geography

940 – History of Europe

948 – Scandinavia and Finland

948.9 Denmark and Finland. Trove stops here – 948.9

and then I lose the thread to get to 948.950612. One NSW library uses this specific Dewey number for their electronic copy of the book.

I don’t see this is a history book.  It’s definitely about culture.

But this is not where my library classifies it.

My library classifies it as

900 – History and geography

910 – Geography and travel

914.89 – Using table 2 for 4- Europe 48 – Scandinavia – 489 Denmark and Finland

Which means it sits with the travel guides (Lonely Planet Denmark is 914.8904).

To me, another option (less popular but used enough to warrant a mention on Classify) makes more sense.

300 – Social Sciences

306 – Culture and Institutions

306.09 – Social history

306.09489 – From table 2, 4 for Europe, 48 for Scandinavia, 489 for Denmark and Finland

That at least places it in with social customs, rather than travel guides.

The back of the book has a small topic guide – Society/Travel. But it’s primarily society, not travel and definitely not history.

Dewey Number and Book Number

Mystery #2. My local library uses the title (well the first three letters of the title) as the book number, instead of the author like SCIS does.  Is this common?  I checked two other libraries I’m a member of that Trove listed as having a copy, and they both use “RUSS” for the book number.

ETL505 – Classification Take 2

Abridged 13I am going to actually attempt some of these exercises I couldn’t manage yesterday, however I’m going to try to work out the Dewey number using the Abridged (13) Edition of DDC, because I have a hardcopy of that here.

a. An American English language general encyclopaedia – 031 (correct for Dewey)

b. Model kite making – 629.133023 (wrong)

c. William Shakespeare’s love poems – 808.81 – that’s for poetry, not sure about Shakespeare specifically 

d. Australian Aboriginal spirituality and dreamtime – 291.4094 (wrong)

e. Adopted children – 306.874 – correct

f. Teaching reasoning and problem solving – 153.4071 – partly correct

g. Eucalyptus trees – 582.16 ?? This is for trees – this is one option so correct

h. Henry Lawson’s poetry – 808.81 poetry. SCIS allows for specific authors but I don’t have access to that right now

i. The architecture of castles in Spain -728.80946 (correct)

j. Bird watching in Australia – 598.07094 (the first part is correct but not the end)


I got some right, some wrong, and I’m still not building numbers properly but I do feel like I’m getting the hang of it a bit more.

ETL505: Module 4 (Part 2)

4.3 Subject Access in School Libraries

Now I’m into a SCIS Subject Headings Workbook…

The SCIS site takes so long to load properly and the content you need is the absolute last thing that loads… so far I’m in exercise three and it’s all really basic “look this up” stuff.

By the end… well I skipped the last three sections of the last exercise because I had enough really and I needed to pack up and get my kids from school.


Atoms – these look virtually identical in the Thesaurus and Subject headings

Minerals – this has an entry in the ScOT but the closest subject heading is Mineralogy.

Angles – these both have entries but the ScOT has more narrower terms associated with the entry

Cars – this is used in ScOT but Motor Cars is the closest subject heading.

I searched for AFL both in the Subject headings search and the basic search.  The Subject headings search came up with three options online (Australian Football League being first) and the basic search came up with 458 items.  For students searching for materials about AFL, a keyword search will likely help them find what they need than a subject heading search.

A search for GWS Giants turned up nothing in a keyword search, but an advanced search for “Giants” and “AFL” returned two results, one actually about the GWS Giants.

A Basic search for Alice in Wonderland turned up a lot of results but the first half a dozen were either movies, or foreign language translations, then there was a 1978 edition of the book then a whole pile more translations.  An advanced search for “Alice in Wonderland” in the title field and the dates 1990-2019 brought up something more useful.  A subject heading search brought up two results – one for the film and one for Lewis Carroll, with a subdivision for the Alice books.

Alice in Wonderland

ETL505 – Module 4 (Part 1)

4.1 Introduction

Ok, this is really just an introductory paragraph, nothing to comment on here except that it sounds like I’m way more ahead than I am (it’s the end of week three of uni and this content is set for week eight), but I haven’t had time off when the mid semester break is scheduled – I’ll do that in the school holidays.

4.2 Locating Resources by Subject

I have written before about the problems with the LCSHs, so I won’t go into it again here.

Perform some subject searches on the Library of Congress catalogue, by choosing ‘Browse’ and using the ‘SUBJECTS beginning with’ option.

LCSH- HockeySo, I began with Hockey – a sport I have recently started playing, and then chose the narrower term “Field hockey” – even field hockey has about 30 sub divisions, although they are really uneven. LCSH - field hockey Note in the below example that there are subheadings for Argentina (who, incidentally, I went to see play against Australia on Saturday) but none for Australia.
LCSH - Field Hockey

Then I looked at the SCIS subject headings.  The first, noticeable difference is that hockey is “used for” field hockey, and a narrower term is ice hockey (whereas I am pretty sure the LCSH use hockey to mean ice hockey by default). SCIS heading - HockeyMost students in Australia looking for ice hockey resources would search “ice hockey”, so this difference in vocabulary is important.

Next I searched the Thesaurus for Graphic Materials for “Emus”

TGM - EmusThen I looked at items in the LoC that had this description – to find there was only one.

I think this was used in a viewfinder to create a 3D images, as it’s described as “stereographic”?

With regards to classification systems, there are some I have read about that were not mentioned in the textbook. Sweden used to have their own classification system, but it started to be phased out in 2008. There was also recent news coverage about Galiwin’ku Library that abandoned the DDC in favour for a locally developed system that works for the local population.  You can hear more about it on the Turbitt n Duck podcast.

Social Tagging

A lot of services use social tagging – Flickr and YouTube in particular – and this is vital when the resource at hand can’t be searched for text because it is a visual medium.  However, the risks of inaccurate tags or multiple tags meaning the same thing are high.  For example, on Friday last week it was the day of the strike of school students to protest political inaction on climate change.  I noticed on Twitter that quite a few hashtags were trending including #SchoolStrike #StrikeForClimate #strike4climate #ClimateStrike and so on. Now as a human being, I can see that these hashtags are all about the same thing, but Twitter’s algorithms can’t.

Trove allows you to tag items in the collection and have that visible to the public, or privately. I used this tagging to create a virtual exhibition.



2019 Session 1, Week 3 – Plans

So, setting out my (mostly uni related) plans for the week used to be something I did each week, and I realised last night that I haven’t been doing that.

So, obviously, it’s already Tuesday.  I worked yesterday so I didn’t get to even touch uni stuff yesterday.  This year I’ve added casual work to my very busy schedule, although I’m keeping it to no more than one day a week.  Then this morning I took myself out to see Captain Marvel, so I’ve only gotten to look at uni stuff since lunchtime today.

My goals for this week are:

  • Visit at least three blogs from my #INF541 cohort and comment on relevant posts.
  • Spend some time researching FRBR tasks and how they connect with the RDA elements
  • Begin Module 3 of #INF541 and complete 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3
  • Begin Module 4 of #ETL505 and complete 4.1 and 4.2
  • Reread Subject Outlines, especially information for Assignment 1 (ETL505) and Assessment 2 (INF541)
  • Explore some games for game based learning
  • Read at least one chapter of Reality is Broken
  • Post about my experiences with the catalogue at the State Library NSW last week
  • Have a chat with #ETL505 fellow student Marika about the coming assignment
  • Look at my upcoming ETL507 assignments and consider portfolio topics
  • Possibly post about the events in Christchurch last week and the subsequent media coverage

A koala comforts a kiwi

ETL505: Module 3 – RDA

3.5 Fundamentals of RDA

Practical cataloguing definitely looks… practical.  I want to sink my teeth into actually doing some cataloging instead of just reading about it…

I think I am grasping the gist of AACR and RDA and FRBR and FRAD.  But I do feel like I’m reading some of the same information over and over… I want to get more practical!

Later in this module, you will be encouraged to familiarise yourself with RDA and complete some cataloguing exercises.


And then our next “reading” is a course designed to take three hours.  I don’t have time for that today.  I’ll have to come back tomorrow.

Using the RDA Toolkit

Unit 1 Getting Started

Woohoo! This was simple – click on the link in the ETL505 module to get to the CSU Institutional account for the RDA Toolkit, then create my own user account.

Unit 2 Interface and Navigation

Can I start off by saying that this is a really antiquated website?  It’s so old and slow.  It looks like something I would have accessed 20 years ago.  And the instructions in the toolkit aren’t always clear – or certainly aren’t to someone who has no experience cataloguing.  I don’t actually think we are supposed to be working through this whole thing but the module says “It would be helpful for you to read the guide “Using the RDA Toolkit”…

I haven’t worked through all the exercises, but I will review them again if I have trouble finding something when we actually get to the cataloguing part.

Unit 3 Searching

This SAYS it was written in 2012 but it seems to have been written in 1992, when the web was new.  We know how to search – we are librarians!

Unit 4 Personalising the Toolkit

Now we can save searches and bookmark specific sections.

Unit 5 User Contributed Content

This looks to be useful for when you are cataloging for a specific institution- the nuances of how your library wants it done can be recorded here and links can be provided to the RDA toolkit when needed, rather than switching between multiple documents.

Unit 6 Help, Support and Other Services 

Well a good part of this section is out of date as the home page no longer has the links you are told to follow. However, looking at the Beta site gives me hope that this antiquated website will be updated soon.

This video in the module was much more helpful than the booklet and it’s good to know that we can easily access the NLA policies for RDA inline with the text.

Stop! Hammer time! aka Time to get cataloguing

Ok, at first, I was totally confused (well at least partially confused) and was basically just copying the example.  I did 3 or 4 before remembering there are answers at the end of the booklet.  I’m not cheating but I do check the answers after I complete each example so I can see if I’m on the right track.  I’ve completed seven of the twenty seven exercises so far.  I do have questions but once I got the first few done I felt like I was getting the hang of it.


So, I started tidying up the way-too-many open tabs in my browser and came to this video about mindset changes.  The first one, being ok with being the least capable person in the room, really resonated with me (and the second, being ok with failure, but I’ll get to that).  In my professional development as a future librarian I have consistently put myself in positions where I am the least capable person in the room.  About a week into my studies last year I went to GLAMSLAM2018 where I met so many amazing people and learned so much! I was a complete noob and none of the content really touched on school libraries – barely any of it was about libraries at all! But I got involved and later this week I will be attending GLAMSLAM2019.  This willingness to be the least qualified person in the room has lead me to my roles with ALIA SNGG and being on the ALIA National 2020 Conference Program Committee.  Being in a place where I am the least qualified means I have so many people I can learn from!

The second mindset change, being ok with failure, is harder for me. I am someone who has been pretty capable at most things.  I don’t like being bad at things.  A few years ago, hubby and I were eating lunch (or dessert?) in a park and there was a group of twenty-something men riding skateboards and practising jumps and other tricks.  One of these guys in particular was really bad.  He kept falling over or missing the trick he was trying to do.  And I was amazed that he was ok with failing over and over again so publicly.  Because I hate to fail.  But I am learning to step out of my comfort zone.  This summer I joined a hockey team in a social competition, even though I’d never really played hockey before.  After that experience (even though I made so many mistakes and messed up numerous times) I’ve signed up to play in a full field winter hockey competition.  At training, we train with everyone from A/1st grade down to newbies like me.  And it’s been a great experience (barring one small 30 second incident) and I’m mostly ok with failing – and back to the previous paragraph, being the least capable person out there, or close to anyway.

This does connect with cataloguing, I promise.  I want to be good at cataloguing.  But right now, I’m not.  I make mistakes.  Even on this blog, I’ve made mistakes on my FRBR examples.  And I need to be ok with messing up, with making mistakes, with asking for help and for clarification.  If I don’t keep trying, if I don’t ask for help, I’m not going to get any better.

Interval Part Two aka This is why metadata matters

Screenshot of tweet where Ben Aaronovitch is credited with writing a Terry Pratchett book

It might be hard to see in this screenshot of a screenshot but Ben Aaronovitch is credited as author of a Terry Pratchett book in a library system. In a response, Aaronovitch ponders that it might be an edition that he has written an intro to, but the original poster says that it’s not.  The responses

This is why metadata matters.  I’m guessing perhaps the metadata for the wrong edition got imported for this edition and somehow the actual author got dropped off and the first statement of responsibility was Ben Aaronovitch?  Who knows!

Back to Cataloguing

Argh.  Just as I felt like I was getting the hang of it, I got slammed with a much fuller catalogue entry required.  I ended up with more specific RDA references than were required in some places.  I also don’t know if it’s vital that the entries are in numerical order – mine weren’t because I was working with the data as I found it.

These final cataloguing exercises took a lot longer than the rest.  And I didn’t get any of them 100% correct but the further I went on the more I got correct.  Glad to have this done!

ETL505: Module 3 (Part Two)

3.3 Metadata Standards

I was interested to note that some of the later standards have headings for the intended audience.  While I can see that this would be a useful tool for selection (a university student does not want a book targeted to primary school students and vice versa) I have seen many instances where books have been incorrectly categorised according to recommended audience.  For example, the book “P is for Pakistan” has been listed as appropriate for children 4-6 years old, however, from personal evaluation of the book I can tell you that the book is for older children, perhaps 8-12 year olds, and incorrectly given an audience of 4-6 year olds due to its alphabetical nature.

I confess, this submodule was a really hard slog.  Over 50 pages to read in the textbook and a really dry hour-long webinar to watch.

One thing that a FRBR/RDA model could improve is serendipity.  In the example in the video, someone searching for Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell could come across literary analyses of the book, or a biography of the author, that they may not have known existed and would not find intershelved with the novel Gone With the Wind. This reminds me of the catalogue records for The Tate.

3.4 RDA, MARC and SCIS

I’m finding the nostalgia on this MARC reading quite strong – Computers now have floppy disks and hard drives instead of tape drives used by mainframe computers, and that data is usually sent via floppy disk. LOL!

I also engaged in an interesting conversation with my husband who works in IT about entities and relational databases, and how most library catalogues are just digitised versions of card catalogues and he thinks that relational databases are so logical for library catalogues and that our current systems don’t make any sense (except when you consider their 18th Century origins).



Module 3 (Part One) Metadata Quality

3.2 Metadata Quality

I cannot read far in the textbook without thinking of my friend Alissa McCulloch who (up to this point) has been my primary source of cataloging knowledge.  When Hider (2018) mentions not taking user experience into consideration and how controlled vocabularies can hurt marginalised groups, I thought of Alissa.  She’s blogged about using Aboriginal names to describe Aboriginal people (and got something changed!), how controlled vocabularies can further distress vulnerable patrons, and (in a post I can’t find) how much of the metadata she created was not visible to patrons.  I also am reminded of the book Cruising the Library (Adler, 2017) where the classification of homosexuality is situated alongside paedophilia and other sexual crimes, and has LCSH that are offensive.


The following are examples of abbreviations and jargon which were once routinely used by library cataloguers. Do you understand what is meant by all of them? You’ll find the answers later in this module!

  • t.p.
  • ill.
  • ports.
  • repr.
  • fl.
  • prelim.

Yep, a fun quiz to see how easy to understand jargonistic cataloguing acronyms are.

The second one, ill., would be an abbreviation for illustrated.  Prelim. would presumably be an abbreviation for preliminary but I don’t know why that’s a word we need in cataloguing?


One example of inconsistency between LCSH and user searchers are the LCSH “aliens” and “illegal aliens” which are commonly searched for as refugees or immigrants.  The Library of Congress has changed these, and associated headings because not only were they not useful (and inconsistent with user searches) they were also considered to be insulting to refugees and immigrants.

Authority Control

One good example of having a controlled vocabulary (albeit less controlled than library authority control) is Wikipedia.  In this random example from off the top of my head, the Wikipedia page for The Black Eyed Peas includes a disambiguation, indicating to users that this page is about the music group, and if they are looking for information about the legume, they need to look on another page.

Heading and disambiguation on wikipedia page for The Black Eyed Peas


Well, the first mistake I made when searching the LC Authority records is looking for an author with their first name first.  A search for Brandon Sanderson brought back numerous people with the surname “Brandon”.  I gave up after flicking through three pages and searched surname first to arrive at the author of fantasy and dystopian fiction, Brandon Sanderson.

When searching for a book called Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch, it took me a bit of searching to find the authority record. In my non-expert opinion, it doesn’t seem to be correct as it mentions one book in the series later in the record, but not all the others.  Either it is incomplete or incorrect.

Without too much difficulty, I found the subject authority record for autism.

Quality Assurance

While book covers aren’t typically recorded in metadata, a description may be useful in a school library catalogue, especially for primary school children who may not even be able to read the title of the book, but know they want the book with a yellow dog and a ball on the cover. However, that takes time and would not have the same controlled vocabulary that other metadata would have.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

Yes, creating metadata is time-consuming.  But it is vitally important.  See this post for an accessible example and explanation as to why metadata is essential.  Of course, SCIS is a way that schools can access metadata, however even SCIS records have their issues, especially with subject headings.

Quiz answers

Well I won’t give them away, but I was on the right track with the ones I guessed… and obviously didn’t get the other ones right 😉


Adler, M. (2017). Cruising the Library: Perversities in the Organization of Knowledge. New York: Fordham University. doi:10.2307/j.ctt1xhr79m

ETL505 – Module 2 Part 2

2.2 Other Tools and Systems

There’s actually not much to be said about this short sub-module.

I understand how crosswalks don’t necessarily give you an easy conversion, as I can relate it to foreign language learning.  Some things just don’t translate well word for word, especially idioms.  For example, we were watching Nailed It Mexico last night.  It’s a Spanish language program but has been overdubbed in English.  However, text on the screen is in Spanish, and translated with subtitles.  The screen read “unos momentos luego” which directly translates to “some moments later”, but was translated into the more familiar English phrase “A few moments later”.  Or, more obscurely, we could go with the phrase “patos malos” which directly translated means “bad ducks” but in Chilean slang means “thieves”.


Other Thoughts
WEMI diagram

I’ve been thinking about WEMI this past week, and I came up with a better analogy (for me to understand anyway).  For me, it makes more sense to explain it starting with a story that is “traditional” – that most likely came out of an oral tradition hundreds of years ago and is in the “public domain” with no known author.  In fact, an oral storytelling tradition would mean that there would be many different versions of the story before one was written down.  I made the diagram above based on the fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and used the examples of the Walt Disney movie and the short story Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman.

I hope this helps someone else!

ETL505: Module 2 Part One

2.1 Tools of Library Organisation

I began exploring the SCIS catalogue and started with a book my daughter got for Christmas, that I have read.  Wundersmith.

Screenshot of the catalogue record for Wundersmith

I found it interesting that there are four different ISBNs for this book, and there are two different versions that I can’t tell what the difference between them is.

I was also quite interested in the MARC record for the book.

MARC record for Wundersmith (screenshot)

I also searched “Maas” for books by Sarah J Mass – and was very glad for the quick link to results from 2014 onwards.  I looked at A Court of Thorns and Roses, and then clicked through to see books from that series, before more closely examining A Court of Frost and Starlight.

Finally I searched “Peregrine” in an effort to find a specific book from the series of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.  I settled on a book called “Tales of the Peculiar” which is by the same author and closely related to the series but not actually a part of the sequence of stories in the series.  It is also purported to be written by a character in the book (much the same way that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is written by Newt Scamander (while actually being written by J.K. Rowling).

Screenshot of the catalogue record for Tales of the Peculiar

I noticed that the fictional author and publisher are noted and the series is noted in “other titles” however it is not logged as part of the series and given a number in the series.

SCIS is a third generation catalogue – I am sitting at home to access it! All the libraries I access have third generation OPACs, although my children’s school libraries are not available remotely, although I understand they have the capacity.  So I would say that they are third generation OPACs without all their potential realised.

When comparing a journal database with a library catalogue, I searched the Library, Information Science and Technology Abstracts with Full Text EBSCOHost database, and searched for school libraries and took a look at the detailed record for the first result that came up.

Screenshot of record for Reflections on Managing a School Library

This has many of the same, or similar fields to the SCIS records, below this screenshot (not shown) there were fields for ISSN, DOI and an accession number.

Screenshot of the Trove record for the Press Dress

I love Trove. It is so useful.  Above is a screenshot of the catalogue record for The Press Dress (the actual dress; note that it is recorded as realia).  Trove gives us access to digitised newspapers, Government Gazettes and historical photographs.  I also love to use it to search for books I want to read.  Rather than individually search the catalogues of all the library systems I belong to (seven and counting), I can go to Trove, find the title that I want, and view which libraries hold that title.  Screenshot of Trove record for Calamity

Using Google image search, I uploaded an image of a Commodore 64 that I downloaded yesterday for my INF541 post.

Screenshot of Google image search

Google recognised what the image was of and found other similar images.  This can be useful when wanting to identify a flower or animal.

Next I searched Trove for a place in Australia, a local Aboriginal site called Red Hands Cave.

Screenshot of Trove picture, object, image search for red hands cave

Trove immediately found images relevant to this search.

I found the section on Sound Retrieval interesting, as it said that we don’t really have technology that can recognise sounds the same way.  But that’s not true.  We have Shazam. As an example, I used Shazam today to identify the song that was playing in the shop I was in (BTW I didn’t like the song).

Screenshot of Shazam result - Confess by Jack RiverThe module then asks for us to search for a favourite song on and Spotify. seems useless.  There’s no easily apparent way to search for a song, but only artist, and even when I search for the artist I can’t see how to find a specific song of hers. sia page - screenshot

The Spotify website doesn’t really work to find music.  You need the app.  However once I was in the app it was a simple task to find the song I was after.

Spotify screenshot of search results for "confetti"

For fun, I played the song on my computer and activated Shazam on my phone.  I took a screenshot and managed to capture the transition between the app “listening” and displaying the name of the song.

Screenshot of Shazam listening to Confetti

There’s other ways of searching for songs, such as by BPM. groups songs by BPM and the sort of time most people could run a kilometre if they run in time to the music. showing the BPM for Helium by Sia and others


Reading what I have of this module so far, I do feel like I am slowly wrapping my head around FRBR, but it is slow going.  I also have appreciated the quality of videos and audio content in this subject (contrasting with previous subjects I have completed.

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