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Monday, July 17, 2023

Secrets of library databases

Ah, ha, did I get you with the secrets part? I'll be honest, I'm not giving away any SECRET secrets, but for those who don't know how library catalog (databases) work, maybe this post will be of some interest.

Anyhow, this post came out of a twitter post (tweet) yesterday. I posted about how much I hate Microsoft Access and somehow asked why. The truth is I don't really HATE Microsoft Access; it works the way it is supposed to (ok, sort of) but when working with large database tables, things get complicated. So, it's not the product so much, as what I have to work with, with the product. Does that make sense?

Ok, so back to the library catalog database.
In order to understand a little about how complicated data in a library catalog database gets, you probably need to understand a little about what you see when you are searching a library catalog.

So, when you look at a record in the library catalog for a book (or movie or e book or whatever), you are actually seeing 3 pieces of 3 different records, which are related and hierarchical (generally, not all library catalogs are hierarchical and not all split their records into 3 parts, but a good majority do). These records of course, are populated by fields in the database itself. For those of you who understand databases, these are relational databases (you probably figured that out by now, right?)

Have I lost you yet?

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