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Better Online Citations – Details Part 5 (MODS)

Monday, 22 Jun 2009 | by Mark Tucker

MODS

In this post, we continue our exploration through existing bibliographic standards to see how they might work as a format for online sites to easily share citation information.  To see the journey we have made so far, visit the page, A Better Way to Cite Online Sources.

From the Library of Congress standards page for MODS, we see the following description:

Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS) is a schema for a bibliographic element set that may be used for a variety of purposes, and particularly for library applications.

On the MODS overview page, we get more details:

As an XML schema it is intended to be able to carry selected data from existing MARC 21 records as well as to enable the creation of original resource description records. It includes a subset of MARC fields and uses language-based tags rather than numeric ones, in some cases regrouping elements from the MARC 21 bibliographic format. This schema is currently in draft status…
…the schema does not target round-tripability with MARC 21. In other words, an original MARC 21 record converted to MODS may not convert back to MARC 21 in its entirety without some loss of specificity in tagging or loss of data. In some cases if reconverted into MARC 21, the data may not be placed in exactly the same field that it started in because a MARC field may have been mapped to a more general one in MODS.

Compared to MARC, MODS is simplier and uses word tags (like name, titleInfo, and originInfo) instead of numeric tags (100, 245, 260).  There is not a 1 to 1 mapping between MARC and MODS, so conversion between the two might introduce some challenges.

Let’s look at the book example used in the analysis of the other standards:

Geary, Edward A. A History of Emery County. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1996.

The Library of Congress represents this book in MODS here.

The three key pieces of information (author, title, and publication) are represented in MODS as follows:

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Better Online Citations – Details Part 4 (MARC XML)

Saturday, 20 Jun 2009 | by Mark Tucker

MARC XML

Previous posts have explored a better way to cite online sources (Part 1), how citation information can be stored as a file using GEDCOM format (Part 2) and MARC format (Part 3). This post takes the next logical step and discusses MARC XML.

MARC was created as a machine-readable format many decades ago. In the last decade, eXtensible Markup Language (XML) has been developed as a standard format to allow validation, processing, and transformation of data. MARC XML takes the MARC format and represents it as XML. This is done in a lossless way so that conversions between MARC and MARC XML will not lose any data.

A book represented as a Source List Entry in Evidence Explained looks like this:

Geary, Edward A. A History of Emery County. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1996.

That same book listed with the Library of Congress is shown here as MARC XML.

Let’s quickly compare the MARC entries for author, title, and publication with the corresponding representation in MARC XML.

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Better Online Citations Video – Text Only

Thursday, 14 May 2009 | by Mark Tucker

I’ve been immersed in technology for so long, that sometimes I forget that not everyone has a high-speed internet connection. Thanks A A Bowen for reminding me of that.  Below you will find the text of the video, A Better Way to Cite Online Sources, in script form.  Before I recorded the video of the PowerPoint and demo using Camtasia Studio 6, I wrote a script to get my thoughts together and try to be more concise. The text is likely not 100% of what was said on the video, but it is close.  That is why I am calling it a script instead of a transcript.

Between the script and the detailed description of the demo, you should be in a good position to answer the survey questions without the need to see the video.

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Dick Eastman Spreads the News about Online Source Citation Video

Wednesday, 6 May 2009 | by Mark Tucker

I would like to give Dick Eastman a big “Thank you” for blogging about the online citation video. It appeared in today’s post titled “Video Teaches Correct Citations of Online Sources.” I very much appreciate his willingness to spread the word on this important issue.

There is one point of clarification that I would like to make: although the technology exists today to do this type of “one click” citation it has not been implemented. What I showed was a prototype proving that it was possible. What needs to happen next is for online organizations (like Ancestry, FamilySearch, World Vital Records, Footnote, GenSeek, etc.) and genealogy software companies (like the makers of RootsMagic, Legacy, and Family Tree Maker) to agree on a file format and implement it. The online organizations would need to start providing a file with a download link for each source on their site and the genealogy database applications would need to support importing of the files. One could view the video as a tutorial of how things could be. That is precisely why it is so important to get the word out.

This is a grassroots effort from the genealogy community to let genealogy software and service providers know what we want. Citing sources is important to us. There are inconsistencies and other problems that need to be solved. Let’s find a way to get together and solve them. I am just one voice trying to spotlight an issue and provide a way for others to get their voices heard. We have had 200 respondents to the individual survey with
83% classifying themselves as non-professional genealogists.

Here are a few more statistics:

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Better Online Citations – Details Part 2 (GEDCOM)

Sunday, 3 May 2009 | by Mark Tucker

GEDCOM support by Legacy 7, RootsMagic 4, and Family Tree Maker 2009

In Better Online Citations – Details Part 1 we examined how the QuickCheck model for “Book: Basic format” from Evidence Explained was coded in Family Tree Maker 2009, Legacy 7, and RootsMagic 4. From the screens we were able to identify implementation differences between the three applications. There are also differences between the applications in how citation information is conveyed via a GEDCOM export. The individual fields shown on the template screens are lost in the standard GEDCOM export making it impossible to create a rich EE-style citation in one application, export it to GEDCOM, and import it into another application while retaining that richness. In all cases (except when the exporter and importer of the GEDCOM is RootsMagic 4), the citation is changed from a “Book: Basic format” to a generic “old-style” (pre EE) format with important details lost.

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Better Online Citations Video Spotlighted by Genealogy Gems

Wednesday, 29 Apr 2009 | by Mark Tucker

In Episode 64 of the Genealogy Gems podcast, Lisa calls online downloadable source citations a “Gem of an Idea!”

She explains the issues clearly and interviews genealogy blogger, Stephen Danko to get his opinion. Lisa also gives the outcome of her interview requests with Ancestry and World Vital Records.

I was excited to hear the interview with Stephen as I have been an admirer of his work for years ever since the Genealogy Guys first mentioned him on their podcast.  Stephen’s genealogy blog is in actuality an online research log where he posts document images, transcriptions and translations from his research. Like all genealogists should do, he cites all sources following Evidence Explained. In fact, I had his website in mind when I created the sample site used in the video. For many months, whenever I visited his blog I would imagine a Download link next to each of his source citations. Stephen is somebody I would love to meet. Maybe NGS 2010 in SLC?

Lisa, thanks for getting the word out.  This is truly a grassroots effort and I cannot do it on my own.  Keep spreading the word and contact the providers of the software and services you use.

Thank you!

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