Yes indeed, it is that time of year when Library 105 students go into a cold sweat. Ten or more weeks of cataloging goodness will do that to you. It is not just learning how to write and understand the concepts of MARC, it is that pesky punctuation that just kills the majority of the class.
I know, one doggone period in the wrong place and boom, there goes your grade. No worries. There is help. Check out Follett Software Company's Tag of the Month.
It goes into a description of what the tag is, the reason for the tag and most important how to punctuate the sucker.
Now if there is a discrepancy between what the Tag of the Month suggests and what Dawn says the punctuation of the tag is don't be a dope, go with Dawn! But at least this will help you to understand the syntax of the tag in question. Don't forget about spacing, that counts too but this will help you remember what goes where and why.
Background Information for Non-Library Folks
For those visiting from other parts of the blogosphere we ask for your sympathy and good wishes for every library cataloging student in the world. There is a whole bunch of technical stuff that happens long before you get your hot little hands on a book or library material.
One of the skills those of us who are interested in library work have to know (or should know) is Machine-Readable Cataloging or MARC. It is a process where the material, let say a book is described by a number of data points such as the name of the author, the type of material, its physical dimensions (if any) the publisher and a bunch of other stuff.
All of this happens in the background so when you step up to the terminal or log on from home you put in what you know about a book and bada-bing, you get results based on your search request.
There is no artificial intelligence at work - this is organic human brain power generated data. Why? Because every book, DVD, CD, Sheet Music, photograph, mp3 file, video or other materials is unique. Way too many variables for a (current) software program to account for automatic entry. The picture above is showing an example of a MARC 300 tag which defines a material by its physical description depending on what kind of object it is. .