There has been some interest this week on the Code4Lib mailing list (312 subscribers) about displaying MARC-21 records in a 'compact' format. Some of you will recognize the similarity of the accompaning screen shot to the format used on cards in the past.
While it is hard to defend card catalogs' retrieval capabilities, and the standard 75x125 mm cards (see note below) are a bit of a constraint for display, I always thought catalog cards, especially the typeset ones, were very readable. They especially excel at presenting a quick view, which made it possible to flip through a group of cards very quickly (something you often needed to do in card catalogs). I always suspected that card images got a bad reputation because people would set up trials asking users to 'identify the publisher' and then give them a card image with the publisher buried in it and a screen display with an explicit 'PUBLISHER' label in front of the publisher information.
I suspect it would be possible to construct a test where the more compact card image would do much better, and I still miss them after all these years. In the interest of nostalgia, possibly better bibliographic displays, and a request on Code4Lib, I brushed up something in XSLT I did a few months ago. Currently there are four files available:
- compact.tgz--a compressed tar file of the next three files
- compact.xsl--the XSLT that transforms the XML to HTML
- compact.css--the CSS file used by the HTML for formatting
- mudlumps.xml--a MARC-21 collection of 17 records from WorldCat
The mudlumps.xml file has a stylesheet call-out in it so that viewing it with most browsers should result in a formatted display, once you have the .xsl and .css files downloaded. With IE you might be able to point directly at mudlumps.xml and see a formatted display.
This is, at best, a work-in-progress. Many fields don't display and there are some formatting errors in the ones that do, but it does show what could be done with a bit of effort.
Note: Some people think library card catalogs use(d) 3x5 cards, but they've been 125x75 mm ever since our own Melvil Dewey persuaded ALA at its first annual meeting in 1877 to adopt a metric standard. Which in turn set the U.S. up for the distribution of printed cards by the Library of Congress in 1898. Thanks to Leslie Dillon for the information.
Related post: Adirondack Loj