Emflix – Part Two – Background Continued

Link to Part One

Why do this project? Three reasons:

  1. When classifying a film (or anything, actually) we can only assign it one number to give it a home on the shelf. Sure you can assign it some back-up numbers, or alternative numbers, but at the end of the day — if a resource has a home on a shelf, it will almost certainly have only one call number which puts it in a certain place with (ideally), similar resources. Remember that long list of Cutters from the last post? That was the system we had to work with, so if a movie were a comedy, it would be cuttered .C55, if it were a foreign film, .F67, etc. But here’s the rub: most movies are not one thing. There are funny foreign films, there are literature adaptations that are about country life, there are action films that are also sci-fi films, and so on. It’s not like people haven’t been placing movies into a single location for years, but even as a kid at a movie store I hate that Alien was in sci-fi or horror when it was clearly both!
  2. The second reason for the project was a frustration I encountered when patrons were looking for films they could borrow, i.e. take home. Emerson had the circulating media collection and the teaching media collection whose items could not be taken home by students. There was no way within the discovery interface to limit to a specific collection, and students would often be frustrated to find out that they couldn’t actually borrow the item they had come to the library to retrieve.
  3. Finally — as many of our students were studying film, they often wanted an individual filmmaker’s oeuvre , “all the movies you have directed by X”, “I need all the movies you have written by Y.” This was easier said than done — if you searched Steven Spielberg (filtering to media) you’d end up with 47 results, only 16 of which were actually films he directed. Our discovery interface simply wasn’t able to retrieve by roles.

I need to say pretty baldly here, that when I started this project in March of 2014, I had only taken 4 complete classes of my MLS, and none of the cataloging/classification classes. I wasn’t versed in RDA, linked data (not that I am versed in that yet…) or the various types of discovery interfaces. All I had was this IDEA, and I ran with it.

In part 3 — enter XML, which changed everything.

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