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Working for the Library During a Pandemic

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We have been thrust into strange and unsettling times. Due to events not of our choosing, we in the library are all working from home now. For some, working from home is something they’re used to as a part of their work routine. For others, like me, it’s a completely new experience. Here are some thoughts I’ve had during this first week:

  • Embrace new technology. A fortune I once got read “keep your mind open to new possibilities.” I am finding that is good advice for the current situation. Embrace opportunities to learn new technologies that will help you do your job. I am learning to use Zoom and Microsoft Teams and am having a great time with them, and I like seeing and interacting with my co-workers.
  • Take time to take care of yourself. During the day, take time to do things that are good for your soul and your body. Get out and walk or jog in the sunshine. Vitamin D is good for the immune system, and walking is great exercise. And while you’re at it, maybe give a wave or say a kind word (from a safe distance) to the neighbor you may have never spoken to, since they are home as well.
  • Don’t give in to fear. Try to stay positive, and let go of those things that you have no control of. I have found that I have had to limit my time on social media, because otherwise all the horrible news can lead to feelings of panic, which can keep me up at night. I am also trying to just be grateful. I am grateful to be working for the Duke Libraries, I am grateful to have the wonderful people I work with, and I am grateful, especially, for my family.

Hang in there folks, this too shall pass. We are all doing great work and learning new and wonderful things, both about each other and ourselves.

Cataloging the Edwin & Terry Murray Comic Book Collection

Our last blog post talked about the vast variety of materials from around the world that pass through Technical Services every day. Duke’s collections run the gamut from the most esoteric and scholarly to the most popular and mainstream. In recent decades, materials formerly considered to belong firmly in the realm of pop culture have crossed over to academia, however, and have become objects of study as well as entertainment. Comic books are perhaps the best example of this phenomenon, and the Duke University Libraries are currently cataloging the Edwin & Terry Murray Comic Book Collection, one of the largest sequential art collections held by any library in North America, if not the world.

The Murray comics were a gift from local collectors Edwin and Terry Murray to Duke’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library and consists of approximately 55,000 comic books from the 1930s to the early 2000s. While the collection has been described in an archival finding aid since its acquisition in 2003, over the past few years we’ve embarked on a project to catalog it at the title and item level. Now users around the world can see exactly what we have as well as find and interact with the collection in ways that weren’t possible before. Catalogers in Rubenstein Technical Services and DUL Technical Services have been working together to describe and provide access to this remarkable collection more thoroughly, perhaps, than any other comic book collection in the world. They are supplementing title and issue information with character names, creators, and genre headings, allowing users to search and find comics in variety of ways.

The Murray collection features some of the most famous comics ever published, like Flash Comics #92 (cover-dated February 1948), in which Black Canary, introduced a few months earlier as a minor supporting character, moves to a starring role in her own monthly feature. Seventy-two years later, she’s still one of the most prominent superheroes of all time, starring in 2020’s Birds of Prey movie and having inspired and influenced generations of readers, creators, and the hundreds of superheroines who followed her. For the Duke Libraries staff who are longtime comics fans, holding such incredibly famous, iconic, and valuable artifacts in our hands can be breathtaking, and we’re thrilled to be able to make them available for viewing and use in the Rubenstein Library reading room.


Items from this collection pass through the two Technical Services operations constantly, and at any given time we’re working on everything from funny-animal comics to spy thrillers to Westerns. The bulk of the collection consists of superhero comics, though, and includes practically everything published during the Golden and Silver Ages of comics and beyond by Marvel and DC as well as other publishers like Image, Milestone, and Dark Horse.

Right now one of the many titles we’re working on is the Legion of Super-Heroes, who first appeared in Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958) and have been one of DC’s flagship franchises ever since. Set 1000 years in the future and mixing super-heroics, science fiction, and soap opera, the team’s adventures have been published almost continuously for over 60 years. Originally supporting characters for Superboy, they became so popular that they eventually pushed him out of his own book, which changed its title from Superboy to Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes to just plain Legion of Super-Heroes. Like all the best comics, the Legion is weird and wonderful, brilliant and bonkers, and absolutely addictive.

Although the title is set 1000 years in the future, it reflects the social norms and mores of the time of its creation as well as hopeful visions of what society might look like in the future. It’s particularly interesting to look at the evolving role of women in the Legion from its beginnings to today. Early issues may have been set in the year 2958, but they were written in 1958, and female characters were portrayed as less powerful, less confident, and often less capable than their male teammates. While many of the male Legionnaires had physical powers such as super-strength, growing to colossal heights, and projecting lightning, the female Legionnaires had less showy (and less aggressive) powers like shrinking, intangibility, and thought-casting. (Even the weirder powers were gendered: Matter-Eater Lad could eat his way through anything, including metal, stone, and energy, while Dream Girl’s super-dreaming usually took the form of her becoming overcome by stress and passing out.)

Apart from Supergirl (an occasional Superboy stand-in), the only female character with purely physical powers was Night Girl, whose super-strength rivaled Superboy’s…but only in the dark, when no one could see her do it. As a result, in 1963 the team rejected her application for membership, declaring her powers too undependable.

Despite being the strongest woman in the 30th and then 31st centuries, it took Night Girl 44 years to take her rightful place among the galaxy’s greatest heroes, finally becoming an official member of the Legion in 2007.

Comic books reflect changes in society perhaps more immediately than any other literary medium, and as the role of women in the 20th century changed, so did the role of their 30th-century counterparts. New female Legionnaires were introduced who were more powerful, more capable, and more nuanced. Old characters such as mind-reading Saturn Girl and the ethereal Phantom Girl were redefined as among the toughest members of the team, and Dream Girl became one of the greatest leaders the Legion has ever seen after being elected to that role by a reader poll. Shrinking Violet, originally the shiest member of the team (hence the name), became one of its fiercest and most fearless fighters, while Princess Projectra, for many decades a spoiled illusion-caster with a towering bouffant, found new ways to use her powers in the 1980s as Sensor Girl, becoming one of the most powerful and fearsome heroes the team has ever seen.

As we catalog the Murray comics, we’re making special efforts to highlight titles featuring female characters. In addition to well-known characters like Wonder Woman and Storm, we want to make sure users can also find works about other female characters like Power Girl, Misty Knight, and Rogue. Sometimes it can be a challenge to make sure users can track characters through various titles over the decades, especially when they keep changing their names like Barbara Gordon/Batgirl/Oracle/Batgirl and Carol Danvers/Ms. Marvel/Binary/Warbird/Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel. Fortunately for them, and the readers who love them, the catalogers in DUL and Rubenstein Technical Services are experts in keeping track of people, places, things, and titles that keep changing their names again and again.

Cataloging of the Edwin & Terry Murray Comic Book Collection is an ongoing process. Clicking this link will display all the comics in the collection that have been cataloged so far, and more are added every week. Check the catalog regularly to see what new treasures have been made available!


Coming Attractions From the Non-Roman Acquisitions Team

Duke strives to have a diverse collection that supports the research interests of its students and faculty. What you might not know is exactly how diverse that collection can get! One of the best parts of working in library acquisitions is getting to be the first people to see the surprising and fascinating materials that get added to our collection every day.

Here is a quick tour of some material that might surprise you – inter-generational whimsy in the chill of Russia, humanity in propaganda films of North Korea, the co-existence of modern tension and long history in China, and effervescent, universal proverbs from Egypt.

(Disclaimer: Some of this material might still be in process when you read this. That’s OK – just think what else might be on the shelf waiting for you if you go looking!)


Arabic proverbs mirror the beauty of the Arabic language and Arab culture. These proverbs in the Egyptian dialect are part of everyone’s daily routine and life. Each situation has a proverb that fits it perfectly. It is Arabic wit and humor while at the same time the proverbs have lessons we learn from. Their meaning is universal as there are similarities found in other languages.

على رأي المثل      (Find it in the catalog)


Literal translation: If your friend is honey, don’t lick it all.
Hidden meaning: Don’t take advantage of your friends.


Literal translation: After his hair went white, he went to school.
Hidden meaning: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
Applicability: Used to criticize someone old trying to do things more suited to young people


Literal translation:  Wonders don’t please him, and even if we postpone Ramadan fasting until next year, he won’t be pleased.
Hidden meaning: Criticism of someone who’s impossible to please.
Applicability: To comment on someone who puts down everything or everyone (Fouzia El Gargouri)


Duke also purchases DVDs of North Korean films for many reasons. We have the opportunity to analyze them as avenues of propaganda and to experience them as humans who may have similar goals, needs, and hopes. Check out two examples of new arrivals below:

사랑 의 종 소리 = The bell of love (Find it in the catalog)
From the back: “Soldiers and people rebuild the branch school on the remote island which was destroyed by flood disaster with join efforts to that they could ring the bell of education forever.”


내 삶 이 닻 을 내린 곳 = My last home (Find it in the catalog)
From the back: “Myong Son is an unconverted long-term prisoner who is embraced in the bosom of the Republic after 45 years of struggle behind the bars in south Korea from the time of the Korean war which was unleashed by the US imperialists, holding fast to his conviction. It is only one year that he spent in the embrace of the Republic. During this period, what did he experience and what is the prop that has supported his destiny?”

These films (and the other films and books in the Duke collection from North Korea) are a great opportunity to consider the intentional and unintentional messages we send when we create literature and art. Piqued your interest? Browse the LibGuide on North Korean films at Duke. (Sara Biondi)


Бумажная архитектура : Антология / Юрий Аввакумов
(Paper architecture: Anthology / Yuri Avvakumov)
(Find it in the catalog)

A peek into an art book can be a window into the dialogue between generations—and into Russian cultural history more broadly. Russian Futurists of the 1920s designed avant-garde architecture to bring their cities into a post-revolutionary modern world. With a relatively clean slate but no resources, many of their designs remained as “paper architecture,” — utopian dreams and sketched images which were never realized in bricks or steel.

When Russian avant-garde architects and artists returned to ‘paper architecture’ during the late-Soviet glasnost’ of the 1980s, they adopted some of the same forms and tropes of the 1920s works–but they were no longer dreaming of a “communist city of the future.” Some images showed a focused collision of themes, as with “Sea Battle” and the (divergent) houses of cards. But sometimes the new generation “just dreamed”; their more personal drawings seem to express longing for the whimsy of private and natural life.

Александр Зосимов – Морской Бой (1985)
Aleksandr Zosimov – “Sea Battle”

Photomontage with images of buildings, a sea foreground, a sky background, and a ship.


Николай Ладовский – Коммунальный Дом (1919)
Nikolai Ladovskii – “Communal House”
A drawing of a house of cards with a prominent top spire, a surprisingly individual element for an architectural concept named to envision communal living.


Юрий Аввакумов, Сергей Подъемщиков – “Catapultower” (1982/2007)
Iurii Avvakumov and Sergei Pod”emshchikov’s house of cards, in 4 sequential images depicting the structure with a “self-raising” catapult-style architectural propulsion.


Никола Овчинников – Московский Парфенон (1995)
Nikola Ovchinnikov “Moscow Parthenon”

Ovchinnikov regularly uses the theme of native Russian birch in his art. Here its inclusion naturalizes the ancient architectural concept into a truly Moscow structure.


Николай Каверин, Ольга Каверина – Второе Жилище Горожанина (1985)
Nikolai Kaverin, Ol’ga Kaverina -“Second home of a city-dweller”
Usually such a living space is a tiny rural cottage (“dacha”) with a garden plot as the center of activity. Here the structure is set as a “still life” in multiple views—the table setting is among the topography of the land and then noted as features of the individual allotments. The land’s produce itself embodies the details of the apple-home and pie-garden spaces. (Robin LaPasha)


Duke’s East Asian collection contains more than 35,000 titles in Chinese. Plenty of those titles contend with the issue of modernization; certainly many are concerned with the long history of the Chinese-speaking world. Here are two recent titles that illustrate both the urgency of change and the long arc of history – both equally important context for China today.

自由係 … : 反送中運動「夢境」紀錄 (Find it in the catalog)
This title documents the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement in Hong Kong (2019-2020 Hong Kong Protests) in text and photographs. 71 citizens of Hong Kong speak directly to us about their pursuit of democracy and freedom in a direct and honest way.
Find this title in the East Asian Collection.


茶馆 (Find it in the catalog)
The movie Teahouse is based on a play by Lao She (Shu Qingchun), a 20th-century Chinese novelist and dramatist. The story spans fifty years of Chinese history, and follows Wang Lifa, the boss of the eponymous teahouse, as well as the many characters that make up the society around him. It’s considered not only one of Lao She’s most important works, but a monumental depiction of Chinese history, depicting the social turmoil and seamier side of society over three dynastic periods.
More of a reader than a movie person? Read the play in bilingual translation. (Yaoli Shi)


A Linked Data Primer

Unless you’ve been actively ignoring what’s going on in the world of Technical Services, you’ve certainly heard about linked data at this point. You’ve heard of BIBFRAME, you’ve heard that it’s coming, you’ve heard that it will change the library landscape, and you may have even taken a workshop on writing some triples. But what actually is linked data?

First, some brief (I promise) historical context on linked data. In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee had the idea of combining hypertext with existing internet transmission technology, essentially inventing the World Wide Web. Once HTML was developed shortly after, websites were able to embed links to other sites inside of them, linking documents together. The technologies have gotten a bit more sophisticated since then, but essentially this is still how most people use the Internet: they put an address into their browser, and then click the links to move between pages.

In 2006, Tim Berners-Lee began to work on what it would look like if our data on the Internet were linked together like our documents were. If your data references information about the state of North Carolina, instead of storing it you could link to an authoritative source that contains data about North Carolina, most likely much more data than you would have stored. He laid out some principles for best practices, but conceptually, that’s it — instead of storing data about things, store links to authoritative sources of data about those things.

An Evolving Model

Understanding what linked data is not can be a good place to start when trying to understand what it is. To help with this, I want to look at the layers of standards we use to catalog materials. Some definitions:

Conceptual model: An abstract way of looking at the entities of the bibliographic universe. It has no direct effect on the records we create, but instead it informs the content standards we create.

Content Standard: A set of rules that dictates what data we record and the manner in which they are recorded. A content standard answers the questions of what the entities, attributes and relationships are; what is recorded and what is transcribed; and what is mandatory or optional.

Data structure: The digital format that serves as a carrier for data. Follow the rules of the content standard to fill out the data structure.

The Old Model







This is the basis of our modern cataloging structure. For our data structure, we have good ol’ MARC. Created in the 1960s and adopted in the 1970s, its original purpose was to do two things: transmit catalog cards between libraries and facilitate the printing of those cards. MARC was able to be searched by ‘experts,’ but we’re talking about the 70s here. People who used computers to do this kind of work were, by definition, experts. We’ve repurposed MARC to do all sorts of things, from tracking our orders to creating exports for our discovery layer. Around the same time as MARC, we had AACR, the Anglo American Cataloging Rules, created to standardize how libraries created catalogs and catalog records. MARC was our data structure, and AACR was our content standard. MARC says we have a 245 field, with two single-digit indicators and different subfields. AACR says this is what a title proper is, this is where you find it on a book, and this is where to put the information into these different subfields of the MARC 245.

MARC and AACR work well together because they were designed with a unifying product in mind: a printed catalog card. Saving space was paramount — how much can we fit onto a 3×5 card before it’s too busy and unusable? As we’ve moved away from the print card catalog, we’ve started to adapt our models as well.

The Current Model

We’re still on MARC, but the rest have changed. To begin with, we see the introduction of a conceptual model, Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR). We don’t use FRBR to catalog per se, but it informed the development and understanding of our new content standard, Resource Description and Access (RDA). RDA updated how the entities, attributes, and relationships were defined and identified, and provided mappings to MARC.

MARC and RDA don’t really work all that well together. MARC is a very flat record structure. It takes all of the data and shoves it into one record, while RDA is all about splitting different levels of description. Romeo and Juliet, the work, is written by William Shakespeare, regardless of the publication date of the manifestation.

The Proposed Model

And that brings us to finally mentioning linked data. The model that we expect to be coming will update FRBR with the newly released Library Reference Model (LRM) with some mostly minor changes, and replace MARC with BIBFRAME, a data structure that is stored in a linked data format built for bibliographic data.

This has all been a very roundabout way of saying that moving linked data doesn’t really change RDA at all. All of those cataloging skills of identifying different types of titles (RDA has around 20 types of title), assigning subject headings, and figuring out if the book you’re looking at is the same as the record you’re looking at don’t really change. Eventually the changes made from FRBR to the LRM will inform some updates to future versions of RDA, but that has nothing to do with BIBFRAME or linked data. The changes only flow down.

Semantic Technologies

Linked data is a combination of several technologies that work together to help execute Tim Berners-Lee’s vision of a semantic web. Let’s start with graph databases. In a traditional relational database, like Microsoft Access, data are stored in tables and linked together by having the primary key of one record in Table A appear as a foreign key in a record in Table B. In a graph database, data are stored as nodes and edges, where every data point is a node and the connections between them is an edge.

Graph databases are where we start to see the concept of a triple play out. They’re great for when relationships are complex and not uniform.

Next we have ontologies. An ontology is a naming and definition of the categories, properties, and relations between the entities, data, and concepts that make up one domain of knowledge (taken from Wikipedia). Let’s look at an example.

Say I wanted to make one ontology to describe a single volume monograph, or book, and one to describe a piece of two-dimensional visual art. Here are two small ontologies I might design:


Now, let’s say I want to create an ontology for comic books. I don’t need to start from scratch, I can use existing elements in my new ontology and only create new elements when they don’t already exist. I can include a prefix to show which ontology a certain element is defined in.

BIBFRAME is an ontology. It lays out what the entities and attributes are and how they are all allowed to connect to each other. It’s replacing the MARC layer of our existing technology.

The next technology that goes into linked data is the triplestore. A triplestore is a type of graph database designed to store RDF triples. It is a piece of software that enables all of the normal database functionality you’d expect, like complex searching and fast retrieval. That’s all most of us need to know, which is very fortunate because understanding how they work on a deeper level is some pretty heavy duty PhD level computer science.

All of this brings us to our last piece, RDF, or Resource Description Framework. RDF is a metadata model that stores data in triples. As a model, it’s fairly bare bones. Every piece of data is either a class or a property, and triples follow the pattern of ‘class’ ‘property’ ‘class.’ Here’s a very basic example:

Our two classes are the name of the hotel and the address, and the property is the relationship between them. I made up an ‘omni’ ontology to help illustrate how you might model this.

In reality, things get a little more complex:

Here, I’ve split out the different elements of the address into its individual parts and grouped them all onto an empty node that represents the whole of the address. I’ve called it ‘OWPHAddress.’

And then things get even more complex:

Here, I’ve broken it out a few different ways. First, I’ve replaced the hotel name and address nodes with URIs. In RDF, every node is either a URI or a literal, which is an actual string that represents the value. The URI is just a string that uniquely identifies the entity, just like the 001 of a bib record does. I’ve also replaced the literals for city and state with URI out to Geonames, a triplestore that exists on the Internet and manages geographic data.

What does this let us do? This is just how I modeled an address of a hotel. If there is a restaurant inside of that hotel, I could attach it to that same address node, meaning I don’t need to duplicate the data anywhere. If you translate this to describing bibliographic resources, then multiply by a few million to scale up to our collection, you have a dataset of hundreds of millions of triples that represent all of the items Duke owns.

Linked data is a very technical concept, which can make it difficult to accurately talk about, both within our community and with other communities. I didn’t really go into the question of why we want to move to linked data, because I think that discussion relies on understanding what it actually is. I hope this helps as a bit of a primer for what is going on under the hood for linked data, and please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or thoughts you want to share.





Metadata Moves a Library

Library metadata does more than connect researchers to library resources.  It directs users to a specific building, to a specific floor, and leads them to a specific book.  With the renovation of Lilly Library fast approaching, Duke University Libraries Technical Services began exploring ways to leverage library metadata to facilitate the move of the collection from one location to multiple temporary locations.

For the Technical Services Team, preparing the Lilly Library collection for relocation translated into assessing its level of readiness, identifying and addressing gaps, remapping the collection to temporary quarters, and facilitating the return of the collection to its newly renovated spaces.

Addressing the Gaps

The good news is that the metadata, linking patrons to the Lilly Library collection, was in remarkably better shape than that of previous renovation projects.  Much of the credit for this state of readiness goes to the Lilly Team.  While there were a few issues that required our attention, the even better news is that much of this work could be automated.

Smart Barcoding

One of the questions to be answered was, “how many items in the collection lack a barcode?”  A review of an Aleph report revealed that only 6,000 volumes were unbarcoded.  Employing the use of smart barcodes would provide the most efficient means of addressing this task.  Unlike the generic barcode used at the point of cataloging, a smart barcode label contains a call number and a title. The application of the barcode is done by hand and the records in our ILS (Aleph) are updated in batch using an automated process.

With an Aleph report of unbarcoded volumes as our starting point, we contracted the services of Watson Label Products to produce the labels and supply a file with smart barcode numbers matched to our system-generated (“Dummy”) barcodes.  Once the file was received, we worked with Library Systems and Integration Support (LSIS) to develop a script to replace the system-generated barcodes with the smart barcodes.  The barcode labels arrived in sheets of 150 barcodes each, arranged in call number order, with bibliographic information to facilitate matching by the Lilly Team.

Smart Barcode Data File

smart barcode data file

 Spine Label Conflicts

In the process of organizing the data file for smart barcodes, another issue emerged.  A small group of Dewey call numbers appeared in the dataset for a collection that has no books labeled in Dewey.  The “In-Process LC” status in these records pointed to the LC Reclassification Project as the culprit.  From 2004-2008, DUL embarked on a project to convert 2.3 million volumes from Dewey to LC classification.  An automated process designed to copy the vendor-supplied LC call number from the bibliographic record to the holdings record had failed.

Typically, these problems are sent to Technical Services for resolution one-by-one.  At this juncture, was an automated approach even possible?  Some bibliographic records can contain more than one LC call number.  How could we proceed with confidence that the one selected in an automated process is an exact match to the spine label already on the book?  After confirming that every record with an “In-Process LC” status also contained a vendor-supplied LC call number, we turned to the Lilly Team to check the spine labels.  With their verification in hand, the next step was easy.  We used an existing Aleph Service to fix these spine label conflicts.

The method employed to solve this problem serves as a proof-of-concept that can be applied to all DUL collections that may have legacy Dewey call numbers in their holding records.

Weeding the Collection

The Lilly Team identified approximately 2,000 duplicates to remove from its collection.  Out of a desire to retain the copy in the best physical condition, they began the weeding process by retrieving and visually inspecting each copy.  The initial review of 160 books resulted in 80 to be withdrawn.  A file of the 80 titles was sent to Technical Services for records maintenance and the books were sent to Collection Strategy and Development for disposition.

Our Metadata & Discovery Strategy (MADS)  team suspected that library metadata could inform decisions about which copy to withdraw.  Would the number of times a book circulated correspond to its physical condition?   Could the manual selections made by the Lilly Team be replicated in the data?  To answer these questions, we produced a report of circulation history for the 80 pairs of duplicates reviewed by the Lilly Team.  MADS found that in 90% of the cases the items with the most circulations showed the greatest level of wear.

Remapping the Collection

From our perspective, we are not only planning on how to assist in moving the collections out of Lilly; we also have to focus on how to get it back post-renovation.  When we talk about the “Lilly move” we are really referring to the “Lilly moves” because not all materials are being temporarily located in the same space and they are all coming back.  Some materials will be temporarily at the Library Service Center (LSC) off-site repository, some in the Perkins stacks, current periodicals, or the East Asian Collection reference shelves; while others will be in a temporary space on East Campus that we’re calling the Satellite location for now. Immediately it became apparent that temporary location codes were needed for both moving the collections and controlling the display for patrons.

Cleaning-Up Collection Codes

In the process of setting up temporary codes for the Lilly collections, one of the earliest activities was defining what the Lilly Collections were, from a metadata perspective. Based on the collection codes in Aleph, we identified the number of materials in each code.  We discovered some codes were unused and had no items.  We also found a need to collapse multiple codes that served the same purpose, virtually transferring materials from one collection to more appropriate ones.

Part of that work was collaborating with members of the Lilly Team to collapse un-needed collection codes to the more correct codes.  In our clean-up we found out that there were codes that didn’t serve their intended purpose, so we removed them after updating item metadata.  After that, Metadata & Discovery Strategy Department (MADS) staff created temporary codes, determined how they should appear to patrons, and began changing metadata to the temporary codes so that the materials can be shipped. We worked with the Assessment & User Experience Department to adjust some of the public displays after the Lilly Team determined what those should be.  Once the building is empty, MADS staff will have updated all of the collection codes to temporary collection codes with batch processes.  This initial clean-up sets the stage for a more complete inventory.

There was some dissonance between intellectual collections, like the graphic novels, and the actual collection codes in use.  For example, we think of the graphic novel collection as a separate entity from the rest of the Lilly stacks, but there is no separate collection code (or shelving) for the graphic novels.  We just know they are there.  So, to get the metadata into shape so that patrons can see where things are during the renovation, and to be able to identify each collection later, temporary location codes were created for each sub-part of what we know as “the Lilly Collection.”

Throughout Technical Services, there have been a myriad of other changes to workflows in order to support the operations of the Lilly Library as it undergoes renovation.  Some of these changes are temporary, but others are a permanent reflection of our adaptability and flexibility.

Remember the first sentence in this post: “Library metadata does more than connect researchers to library resources?”  The Lilly Library renovation can now proceed with confidence that patrons can still explore its rich resources with ease.

Stacks of Jazz

The Music Library and Monographic Acquisitions are working on a project to boost the collections of Free Jazz and Spiritual Jazz (and Jazz Funk, some Fusion, some Spoken Word, Modal, Post Bop, New Sound, etc.), primarily from the 70s and with a focus on American jazz. Expect a brighter spotlight on these efforts in the coming months. But, for now, in the process of digging through the digital stacks, many many gems already in the collection were discovered. What follows is a rundown of just three of them, all LPs from the LSC. Take a stroll sometime through the Jazz at Duke Libraries and you will encounter numerous, and sometimes rare, wonders!

Human Arts Ensemble – ‘Under the Sun’  Universal Justice Records, 1974
(LSC: GX9430)

The 3rd release from the St Louis MO avant troupe, featuring Lester Bowie and Charles Bobo Shaw. Two side-long cuts, the B side is a more free and abstract original, while the A side is the true stunner. A funky one, it is “a free music symphony based on an Afghanistan folk melody, ‘Lover’s Desire’ (Folkways FE 4361) transcribed from radio Kabul.”


Julius Hemphill – ‘Dogon A.D.’  Mbari Records, 1972  (LSC: GX25087)

Another arch of brilliance from St. Louis, this one helmed by composer and reedman Julius Hemphill. The entire album wows, but the title track is a true powerhouse. Hemphill is on alto sax and joined by drums, trumpet, and most impressively: cello. Abdul Wadud commands the left channel with repetitive stringed brilliance while the drums hold down the right and the horns do as they please over everything.


Rufus Harley ‘A Tribute to Courage’  Atlantic Records, 1968  (LSC: GX8482)

Jazz bagpipes? Jazz bagpipes!! Harley (born near Raleigh, no less!) was adept at several instruments (the B side finds him on saxes and flute) but truly made his mark playing bagpipes in a jazz setting. The ears might need a while to adjust, but check out the lone elegiac original, and title track, ‘A Tribute to Courage (JFK)’, for a shining example of his unique stylings.