Thursday, December 3, 2009

[NGC4LIB] Open Reply to Thomas Mann

Bernhard Eversberg wrote:
> It was openly said that DDB is also intended as a "German answer to Google Booksearch", to counter the hazard of them becoming a monopoly. Contrary to GBS practice, DDB will ask rightsholders first before scanning their works, said cabinet minister Neumann. A noble intention indeed.
>
> As far as Google News reaches, there seems to be no news about it in the foreign press, whereas all German media carry the report and commentators seem to be unanimously pleased with the idea of a competition against Google. A fine idea indeed.
>
> No mention is made in the plans and announcements of library catalogs. Will they be considered "appropriate tools"?

Thanks a lot for this information. I haven't read about it either. When German and French publishers were excluded from the Google Books agreement, I was really concerned that their materials would just go unused because they will be much harder for people to access and people will generally take the easiest route available. I didn't know what the French and Germans had in mind: just to say "No, I don't like the agreement" or if they intended to build a competitor to Google Books. I applaud the effort.

And yet, it is hard to say if they will succeed. Using Europeana makes me rather skeptical. Here are some Alexa statistics. Percentages are total percentages of internet users who have visited each site. I must say, even though I have incorporated Europeana into my Extend Search function, and there are some very nice materials there, no user I have spoken with has ever heard of it.

Europeana:
7 day 0.0016
1 month 0.00114
3 month 0.00117

WorldCat
7 day 0.0168
1 month 0.0187
3 month 0.0178

LibraryThing
7 day 0.0309
1 month 0.0302
3 month 0.0278

Alexa only gives statistics for domains, and not subdomains (books.google.com, or catalog.loc.gov) and I can't find these statistics anywhere, but they could be very interesting to compare.

In any case, for libraries and catalogers in particular, I think it is clear that "finding" relevant materials in a reliable fashion is just as difficult as ever. There seems to be a real opportunity.

I am afraid that we will have to jettison the word "cataloger" though. As I read in a report: "The word 'cataloguer' is, rightly or wrongly, associated with the past and with one form of metadata only: MARC records. As one director commented: '... a 'cataloguer' is however sadly, a bygone relic."
See: "Directors' views on the future of cataloguing in Australia/New Zealand, 2007: a survey / Jenny Warren."
http://www.nla.gov.au/lis/stndrds/grps/acoc/documents/Warren2007.doc

I think that it is the word "cataloger" that is obsolete because it is related in the popular mind with physical materials, but the *task* of cataloging (updated to "metadata") is perhaps more important than ever. "Metadata" does imply a change in Weltanschauung, which has been discussed at length.

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