Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Re: Pbk editions.

Hi ...,

I'm considering taking this back on list and changing the focus of the argument into a discussion of standards: what they are and what are their purposes.

For me, standards do not at all mean that everyone who follows them agrees with them. I certainly do not agree with everything in AACR2 and even less in RDA. Some sections I am passionately against, and while I can disagree personally with these points or not, it is my professional duty to follow those standards. If I want to try to change those standards, I can begin the process, but my job is to follow the standards.

The reason for this is not that the rules in the standards are the "best." There may be dozens or hundreds of ways of doing a task (e.g. building a wall, running electricity, doing mechanical work on an airplane, even baking a cake), but you cannot mix all these ways together at the same time because that is when you get chaos. Looking at anything individually away from the whole may look quite reasonable, but then looking at the whole (all of these separately reasonable decisions taken together) becomes nonsensical. Imagine a building with 5 prima donna architects. This rather subtle point, I believe, is not grasped by most of the modern and up-to-date "information management specialists."

This is the entire reason for standards: they all aim for a single goal, and that goal is reached by consultation and agreement through negotiation. So, while all your points about edition vs. copy may be valid (I agree with some points you make and disagree with others), in the final analysis we must both conclude: we must all follow the same standards no matter how we may feel about them personally. Therefore, when I worked at Princeton, I *absolutely had* to follow the standards whether I liked them or not or I would have been fired. I could complain about the rules; I could say how stupid and backward they were; but I could not simply ignore the ones I didn't like and do what I thought was best.

This is what standards mean. Many times, when something seems ridiculous to you, you discover that the reason it exists is that it is vital to something or someone "farther downstream." Certainly there are obsolete rules and practices (I've pointed out many myself) and they can and should be changed, but if everyone goes off and does what they want, as I have tried to point out above, the whole becomes corrupted.

And it is especially important that we maintain standards at this point in time. When people are using the new "information tools" and prefer them to our tools, we have in our favor one thing and one thing only: the quality of our information. And the reason that our information is of high quality is because it conforms to standards. I confess that right now , we are in a highly unfortunate moment. It is very difficult to demonstrate to the layman that our information is higher-quality than what they can find, e.g. on Google, because our data is locked up in our "high-tech card catalogs" where the searching mechanisms are primitive.

This is one reason why I am against RDA, because: 1) it is still primarily an academic exercise and it still has yet to be proven that RDA will solve any of the challenges facing us, and 2) more urgently, I feel that introducing it now, during the serious budget problems we are all facing, many libraries simply will not be able to do it for budgetary reasons. Therefore, one part of the library world will go one way, another will not. Which parts will go which ways, I do not know. No matter what however, this will cause a split in standards and necessarily, a drop in data quality, which is as I said, all we really have to offer. This could have truly disastrous consequences for the entire library profession. I don't think I am overstating the case.

I can go on, to discuss the need (and the methods) to bring varying standards of different communities together in the linked world (my own real interest), how RDA can help and what are some new tools we can build for real cooperation, but I've gone on enough I think.


> Hi James:
> Just a couple of comments on your post best taken off-list because
> of the
> furor this issue usually arouses (see below). I could post it (?),
> but I
> do not want to sound critical of your post.
> On Tue, 14 Jul 2009, James Weinheimer wrote:
> > For publishers, it is
> > vitally important to know if an item is hardback or paperback, since they
> > are supplying the items, with cost considerations and so on.
> This is also true for acquisitions librarians concerned with cost of
> purchases, durability, and preservation binding.
> > For libraries, they mostly follow the venerable LCRI 1.0, which states
> > quite clearly:
> Actually it is not all that clear, probably because it is effective
> to
> create separate records for publications issued in different years, no
> where do the rules even hint that records should be retrospectively
> modified to accommodate later issues (but some preferences are expressed
> for separate records in case of doubt), and any library can choose any
> record they wish and modify it locally nay way they wish.
> > LCRI 1.0 ...
> Remember that this is LC policy and it is not LC policy to acquire
> later-issued pbks. in addition to hbks. (or even pbks. at all, in most
> cases), so it is not written to cover that particular situation. Also, not
> everyone uses the LCRIs (which may be a source of disagreements-- not
> understanding that LC does function differently in some particulars)
> > ... consider that the item is a copy if the only variation is one
> > or more of the following:
> > 1) a difference in the printing or copyright date when there is also a
> > publication date;
> Semantics: This only applies when there are both printing (or
> copyright)
> dates *and* "publication" dates. It would not seem to
> apply to the
> reverse: a difference in "publication" dates when there is also a
> copyright date.
> > 3) the addition, deletion, or change of an ISBN;
> Semantics: the appearance of an entirely new ISBN for an issue
> somehow
> also otherwise distinct from a preceding issue is not (strictly speaking)
> an "addition, deletion, or change."
> > 4) a difference in binding;"
> Also, when a phrase similar to "Paperback edition"
> appears, one is
> cautioned (elsewhere) in the direction of not questioning whether there
> are distinct "editional" [fake word] differences: "For
> variations ... not
> covered ... consider that the item is a new edition."
> > ISBNs serve the publisher community and not the library community.
> They also serve segment of the library community and the public
> concerned
> with accurate relations with the publishers.
> > *If* we actually attempt to build this brave new world of metadata
> > interoperability and share records, we will have to deal with
> > differences in the very purposes of the records themselves
> .... and this can most effectively be done if we do not try to combine and
> homogenize records to an unnecessary or obscuring extent.
&g t; > If we are to work together and share our records ... to increase
> everyone's productivity
> Ah, there's the rub! The bean counters may never
> understand what havoc
> "simplification" can wreak!
> Cheers!

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