Unicode script proposals up for active review: Loma, Garay, Adlam

Recently drafted script proposals for the Unicode Technical Committee and IS0 10646 standard have been posted and are ready for review.  These are for the Loma script of Liberia and Guinea, the Garay script invented by El Hadj Assane Faye, primarily intended for the Wolof language, and the Adlam script of Guinea and Nigeria, invented by Abdoulaye and Ibrahima Barry, primarily intended for the Fula language.  Enjoy!

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WHO FAQs on Ebola in N’ko and Vai; CDC radio spots in other languages

The ongoing outbreak of Ebola does not seem to be letting up anytime soon.  For those who are affected in the region, effective public communication about resources and preparedness appears to be one of the major challenges.  Although communicating a message can only go so far, there are efforts being made to serve populations that don’t readily understand English or French.  Examples of those can be found here:



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Introduction to Inputting Amharic

For those of you who missed the Spring Africana Librarians Council (ALC) meeting, or are curious about how to input Ethiopic script into MARC library records, this may help serve as an overview.  It would work best for a user who has had some preliminary exposure to Amharic, or for someone working alongside a native speaker.  Ethiopic (or Ge’ez) script is also used for the Tigre and Tigrinya languages, among others.

Amharic Lesson

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Preview of Unicode 7.0 ()

Scripts of the Bassa and Mende languages are on tap for the release of Unicode 7.0 next month:
http://babelstone.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/whats-new-in-unicode-70.html. Early testing of Bassa Vah in OpenOffice has gone fairly well, and the user community is looking forward to being able to use it more widely. For more background on the Kikakui script of the Mende, see Tuchscherer (1995): http://www.jstor.org/stable/1771691.

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Using ISO 639-2 / 639-3 language codes in name authority records

Working through the relationship between MARC, ISO 639-2, and ISO 639-3 language codes, MARC language names and their relationship (or not) to submitting LC subject heading proposals for language names, and how that all applies to using the optional MARC field 377, “Associated Language”, in the RDA context when creating or updating LC name authority records.  And then a little musing about “to what end.”  Examples of personal name authority files incorporating Associated Language are provided.

Associated Language codes

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Very preliminary drafts of romanization tables: Bamum, N’ko

For the west African scripts of Bamum and N’ko, full romanization guidelines for the use of library catalogers have been evolving for some time. Here are a couple of preliminary iterations toward what should become, after due review from the Library of Congress and the American Library Association, stable guidelines supportable in the context of American libraries.  The timeframe for review will likely take up most of the rest of this year, first internally at the Library of Congress, then with a period open for public comment.  The Coptic romanization table is up for a final vote in committee, and if approved at ALA Midwinter over the weekend, will find its place among tables currently in use.

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Thought for the day

La principale difficulté pour vulgariser la physique quantique, c’est qu’on ne sait pas très bien comment en fabriquer des images dans notre monde. C’est en ce sens qu’elle est vraiment contre-intuitive.”  –Alain Aspect, quantum physicist and former teacher at ENS in Yaoundé, Cameroon.  (“The principal difficulty in popularizing quantum physics, it’s that we don’t really know how to create images of it in our world.  It’s in this sense that it is truly counter-intuitive.”)

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Guide to Extended Latin characters used in African Languages

As mentioned in an earlier post, OCLC has been expanding its support for African languages in recent months. Here is a friendly guide to some of the special characters that are commonly found in practical orthographies of African print materials. Please have a look, and do not hesitate to post your questions!


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Visualizing some of the structure of new data models

>A small raft of documents have been produced lately as the library cataloging community heads toward implementation of new cataloging instructions and data models.  Here is one attempt at a visualization of the changes that are happening, although it doesn’t show everything and there are doubtless far better ways to illustrate it.  Nevertheless, here we go. 



(Brief guide for the perplexed:  Numbers in circles 1-3 refer to classes of FRBR entities; circle 4 is for Annotations.  The BIBFRAME initiative would, depending on how you look at it, either split class 1 or merge entities from within it, while classes 2 and 3 are merged and would link to authority records via, e.g., URIs.  The column running down the middle with lines out from it represents what catalogers already work with, MARC, but shows how it aligns with FRBR entities following Tom Delsey’s 2006 report for NDMSO.)

(For the still perplexed:  This is an overview of the structure of legacy library data, with a newly proposed abstraction layer that surrounds it, rather than merely replacing the data format alone.)

Update: A version that will hopefully serve as more user-friendly, albeit a bit more rough, here.

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Ina moƴƴi!

Some good news to pass along in the runup to ALA later this week:

1.)  The OCLC report to the Committee on Cataloging: Asian and African Materials includes a note reiterating a statement given at ALC in Madison back in April:

“OCLC is making plans to add additional scripts during fiscal year 2013, including support for some African scripts.”

This is good news!  It will allow us to provide more accuracy in the bibliographic data we produce, linking more easily to fully digitized text, and improve access for users, through the use of Extended Latin and Ethiopic.

2.)  In the first set of five campaigns launched by Unglue.it (an initiative led by Eric Hellman, formerly of OCLC), at the top of the list for republication is Ruth Finnegan’s 1970 classic “Oral Literature in Africa”, which is so far drawing in 89 91 101 (!) % of the pledges it will need for its goal to be met.  The campaign closes in three days; if successful, it would mean free distribution of electronic copies of Finnegan’s work (558 p.), along with associated audio.  Please consider joining the effort to ‘unglue‘ it with your support!

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