Monday, November 9, 2009

FW: [NGC4LIB] FRBR WEMI and identifiers

Ross Singer wrote:
<snip>
Jim, I get what you're saying here, but I also think you're missing a really important point: there is no universal, one true way, that all people will want all resources.

So let's go with the notion that the FRBR user objectives are antiquated (which I can't say I subscribe to, since this theory hasn't been tested as far as I know, but for the sake of argument...).
</snip>

I can point out that the opposite has never been tested either, i.e. that the FRBR user tasks are what our users *really* want and should not be accepted as a statement of fact. I'm merely questioning a basic assertion of FRBR, which I believe is such fundamental point for everything else that it must be demonstrated, but yes, let's continue...

<snip>
If our data was reconfigured into a more FRBR-like model, we would have
/significantly/ more freedom to construct, associate and index our resources in ways that /do/ work for /specific/ user communities for specific /needs, resources and activities/.

By simply applying another coat of paint to AACR2, this sort of flexibility is impossible. Only by breaking our "records" into the individual resources they represent can we begin to represent the data according to the needs of an activity or user group. And to date, FRBR (and, by extension, RDA) has been the only realistic attempt to accomplish this.
</snip>

This is where I have a major difference. If we want to do these things, and I agree with all of them, I don't see that the *rules for input* have to change, which should be the rreason for implementing RDA. By all means, let's revamp 100% the MARC format, put in the linked data wherever possible, share our data promiscuously, but does it follow that I need to have different rules telling how to determine a title or how to input it? No. Are they changing for entering publication information? No. Are they changing for counting the pages or determining extent of resource and how to input that information? No. Are the rules changing even in those areas that in an earlier time were necessary technologically, such as the need for a single main entry in a card or printed catalog? No. (I have discussed this at length in other messages) Will we be using modern technology more effectively, e.g. extent of resource will now be determined dynamically by word counts and file compares? No.!
Is RDA going to increase cataloger productivity to a significant degree? No.

And if the rules don't change for the actual inputting (which is the case with RDA, since it has extremely few changes from AACR2) why do they have to be completely reorganized so that I have to relearn my tools? Especially during times when there is very little money in the kitty?

I compare it to a mechanic, who has been working for several years with the organization of his(her) tools in the toolbox, then somebody comes in and "reorganizes" those tools. The mechanic asks why: am I getting radically new tools? No, they are the same tools. Will this reorganization make me more productive? No, we don't foresee that at all. Why then, must my tools be reorganized, and I have to relearn where they are?

And here the mechanic gets a theoretical argument.

The barriers to entering into the information world we both want are not problems with the ways we input our data: it's with our obsolete formats and the fact that we are reluctant to share our data in the first place. So, my argument is: even if we adopt RDA with all the internal upheavals that will cause, it won't make any difference because we will still be faced with exactly the same problems of obsolete formats and not wanting to share our data, and as a result we will present our users something very similar to Fiction Finder, which they most probably will ignore because it does not meet their needs.

So what is my solution? Why don't we just put our data out for general use in a format that people can work with? That means: non-ISO2709 and non-MARC. (That does *not* necessarily mean we have to completely abandon MARC for our own internal purposes) So, I maintain the opposite of what you stated: that adopting FRBR definitely will *not* give libraries the freedom that user communities need--that will only happen when we decide to share our data, and that the data that we do share is usable by non-librarians. I do not see that the rules for input (the cataloging rules or what is covered by RDA) need to change very much, if at all, since that is one of the most important ingredients of high-quality standards, which is one of the most important services libraries can provide.

Naturally, in the future, libraries will most probably come out with major improvements in their data and formats, after a lot of study and research, which most probably will lead to something radically different from what we have today.

OCLC has managed to do quite a bit right now by massaging the records we have. I have been quite impressed. This relates back to what Tim Berners-Lee said in his talk: step number 1 is to share your data in a format others can use. All of these are considerations I made when initiating the Cooperative Cataloging Rules Wiki at http://sites.google.com/site/opencatalogingrules/ (I just had to get that plug in! :-))

Certainly catalogers and librarians in general need to change the view of what they create and how their creations can all fit into the new world, but that is another task entirely.

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