April 20, 2018

Roy Tennant About Roy Tennant

Roy Tennant is a Senior Program Officer for OCLC Research. He is the owner of the Web4Lib and XML4Lib electronic discussions, and the creator and editor of Current Cites, a current awareness newsletter published every month since 1990. His books include "Technology in Libraries: Essays in Honor of Anne Grodzins Lipow" (2008), "Managing the Digital Library" (2004), "XML in Libraries" (2002), "Practical HTML: A Self-Paced Tutorial" (1996), and "Crossing the Internet Threshold: An Instructional Handbook" (1993). Roy wrote a monthly column on digital libraries for Library Journal for a decade and has written numerous articles in other professional journals. In 2003, he received the American Library Association's LITA/Library Hi Tech Award for Excellence in Communication for Continuing Education. Follow him on Twitter @rtennant.


  1. Bernie Sloan says:

    I’ll admit to being guilty of #5: “Violation of rules for local purposes (for example, putting data in a different element so it will display in a particular system)”. But I was very young at the time. :-)

  2. Bernie: Put your hand out — no, like this. *SLAP!*

    • Bernie Sloan says:

      Like I said, I was very young (and ignorant) at the time. *SLAP!* accepted penitentially!

  3. Bernie: Although it was hard to tell from the comment, it was just a friendly tap!

    • Bernie Sloan says:

      OK…even though my transgression might have muddied millions of MARC records? ;-)

  4. Bernie: AS IF. ;-)

  5. as long as MARC (or any other) cataloging rules are rather suggestions than constraints, one will always get such errors. Either every record is checked and rejected (!) or one cannot expect valid data.

  6. It would seem sensible (and efficient) for fields like this that have clearly defined defaults, that the *software* supply it as an option to be filled in (e.g., with the use of a pull down menu, right click menu, etc.). This would not only save time entering the data, but also cut down on input errors.

  7. Cecilia Preston says:

    Roy, If you need more examples let me know. As I continue to work with this data I am continually amazed at the creativity expressed in this field (Both the 260 and catalogers). What was wrong with [s.n.], [s.d.], or [s.l.]? Besides being what I was taught as a cataloger in the dark ages of the ‘upgrade’ to AACR2.

  8. Dodie Ownes says:

    Hi Roy, I was just at an OCLC presentation at the CO Association of Libraries, and several people attending were wondering what the current state of BIBRAME is – do you have an update?

  9. You mention “… we all need to own this problem and work against the forces of inconsistency …” but it seems to me that the current trends in cataloging don’t care much about consistency. Titles can now be in ALL CAPS if someone wants; additional authors can be traced or not; you can add a subtitle or not. Adding the relator codes are optional. Often, thousands of records are made into a semi-MARC format and dumped into the catalog with almost no controls at all. So, it is tough to say that we need consistency in something like [Place of publication not identified] when users probably won’t even notice it or care much about it if they do.

    I am a #1 advocate in favor of consistency, but it seems that information such as [Place of publication not identified] is a perfect candidate for allowing a measure of inconsistency, especially when compared to the other points I mentioned above.

    If we want to turn place of publication into an area for searching or limiting, that may be another factor, but there is such wide variation in the spelling of place names in the place of publication area that getting half-way decent results for place of publication would make the inconsistency found in [Place of publication not identified] look like child’s play.