Monday, December 28, 2009

RE: Wrapping Our Heads Around the New World (in answer to Mac)

Posting to Autocat

A couple of comments here:

On Sun, 27 Dec 2009 12:51:48 -0500, Heidi Hoerman wrote:

>No, what I really think it should mean is that we not try to jam the concepts of RDA/FRBR into the MARC format and that implementing RDA at this point is an exercise in futile frustration and wasted effort.

Attached to this, and one of the main reasons why I believe RDA is already dated, is that we must realize we are not in this alone--not anymore. Perhaps when FRBR was being developed, we still were more or less alone, but not today. For the good of our users, and for our own good, we cannot simply ignore tools such as the Internet Movie Database. We do this to our own
peril, much as what has happened with newspapers who ignored Craigslist and have suffered as a result. There are lots of tools and potential partners out there now and the result must not be duplicating the work over and over and over again.

> That's what we want: searchable access to the holdings of our libraries. That's the major purpose of our catalogs.

But I ask: is searchable access to the holdings *of our libraries* what our patrons want? Or do they want to know what is really available to them no matter where it happens to be? I would say that, based on the increasing numbers of ILL requests, and the boom in internet usage among everyone, patrons feel rather constrained by knowing only what is available within a
collection (although that is still important) and this feeling will only grow in the future. For example, if someone wants US government documents, they should no longer look only in specific library catalogs--there are much better places to go for government documents. The same with materials from the UN or the European Union, or many other institutions.

These are some of the very serious issues facing cataloging and catalogs. Getting rid of the ISO2709 version of MARC format would allow us to share our information more widely and would be a step in the right direction, but how the implementation of RDA will solve any of them remains a mystery to me.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a patron and I agree with you. So far as patrons are concerned, the catalog has no purpose - it's an implementation detail.

    When I'm looking for (say) a book, the first thing I want to do is to locate it within the bibliographic universe -- basically to make sure that I've spelled the author and title correctly. For that purpose, the catalog is misleading, at best, because it can't distinguish between a typo and a correctly described book that isn't part of "holdings".

    Once I've identified a book I want, I want to know its availability. Is it in a particular building *right now*? How soon can it be delivered to me? There's no difference to me between "holdings" and ILL.

    Also, you're right to call out IMDb -- they're one place that's clearly working hard on accurate metadata with a simple and effective search interface. Do a search on "Paul Newman" for example. Other interesting approaches are Wikipedia's disambiguation pages, and LibraryThing's attempt at user-driven splitting and combining of author and book records.

    ReplyDelete