RE: [alcts-eforum] Hidden Collections

Deeken, Joanne wrote:

What can we sacrifice in quality work on one description that would free us up to create at least some access to a broad range of material not hidden? Or could the question be better stated as “What is quality work?” When is “some access for a lot” better than “good access for a few?”

I have written a bit on this, and I think much of it has to do with commonly-accepted standard records. We are in this together and must cooperate; therefore, a record created by one library must be of adequate quality to be accepted by another library. If we don’t make records good enough to share, then each library is left on its own. When one library decides to go its own way, it hurts everyone else, as we saw with LC’s decision to no longer trace series. If everybody else had decided not to trace series too, then everything is OK, but otherwise it just offloads the work on everyone else.

While I believe AACR2 is a fabulous standard (and there is no need to get into RDA here), I think we need to face some realities. Although it can be done, it takes quite a long time to create a self-sufficient cataloger who knows the intricacies of AACR2/LCSH/LCC or Dewey/MARC21 to catalog at full-level, and there are changes all the time; witness only the weekly updates to LCSH, but everything is updated constantly. You can’t come out of library school as a fully trained cataloger. You can have some basic understanding, but there is just not the time, and only training on the job can do it.

It is my gut feeling, although I can’t point to anything, that libraries are either not willing or not able to continue this level of training. As a result, adherence to the standards has been going down anyway. I think we have all seen that. Therefore, I submit that perhaps we have to rethink the standard: is it simply too high that it is unachievable in the real world of today?

But I emphasize that any reconsideration of standards should and must be done in a cooperative way since otherwise, each library will decide on their own and any records that are “shared” will have to be reworked. Although I don’t believe it was mentioned explicitly in the report, I have wondered if this is what we are really seeing in LC’s “Study of the North American MARC Records Marketplace” in the section “Cataloging Capacity” (p. 10) where they discuss how the numbers just don’t add up.

Perhaps the quality of copy varies so much that catalogers just have to check everything closely or redo everything over and over again. Also, with RLIN gone and OCLC’s primary record, there is no longer a choice among different libraries and many times the updates from one library are not shared with others.