Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fwd: Re: Google Magicians?

On Tue, 22 Sep 2009 09:14:05 +1000,... wrote:

>I'm not convinced, nor do I see the relevance. If you ask a computer
>savvy guy "what's the best way to store this complex data", the answer
>would not be MARC with AARC2, nor denormalised records in a database.
>And if you asked a cataloger about the best way to record a complex
>title, it would not be a simple title field with a possible sub-title.

You sum it up pretty well. MARC was originally designed in the 1960s to
print catalog cards. I don't believe the video screen had as yet been
figured out, but output only onto paper and cards. Watch the comedy "Desk
Set" with Hepburn and Tracey to see the basic attitudes from back then. It's
funny, and some of it applies to us today.

But MARC was never rethought in terms of database structure. When cards
stopped being printed, many of the problems of the cards were simply
transferred into the computer. Since MARCXML is just another format of the
original MARC, the problems of cards, *and* of MARC, are transferred into
the new world. There are reasons for this, though.

For example, when you mention normalization of data, my heart just drops.
What an incredible undertaking that would be! This is only one area where
our current methods of manual updating fail completely. To combat this, we
have supposedly followed our "standards" but never enforced them, which
means that while there are many excellent records in there, there are also
lots and lots of lousy records, input by untrained, uncaring people. It
seems to me that normalizing this data must be done using automatic methods.
Then as a manager, I can then say if that stuff can be automatically
normalized, what about the new records?

Because libraries inhabited their own habitats, we have been able to ignore
a lot of this, but we can no longer ignore it today. Other entities such as
Google, but lots of other entities as well, want to use our data, but they
won't spend massive amounts of their time to make our information work in
their databases. To make our records fit into their databases is *our task*
if we want to be included.

And that is part of what I have mentioned about losing control.

Jim Weinheimer

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fwd: Re: [NGC4LIB] An article to warm the hearts of cataloguers

> On Thu, 10 Sep 2009 13:01:16 -0500, ... wrote:
> >I think: maybe OCLC shouldn't have given them everything (out of chips).
> There is a big part of me that agrees with Nathan: that this is *our* stuff
> that we shouldn't just be giving away. After all, it was made with the
> blood, sweat and tears of generations of experienced catalogers and is
> incredibly valuable. Simply giving it away seems crazy.
> I think this is the way that the music industry is looking at a similar
> situation, the book industry, the film industry, the newspaper industry, as
> well as the "scholarly-production complex." All are in a state of
> crisis. We
> have all of this "stuff" built up with such labor over such a long
> time and
> somebody ought to have to pay for it. If we just give it away, it's
> equivalent to saying that it's not worth anything at all, or if it is worth
> something, then someone else who uses it and profits from us should give us
> a piece of the action.
> But it's a new world, whether we like it or not. The music industry doesn't
> want to admit that they have lost control over all kinds of things and so
> they sue people in outrageous ways, but it doesn't stop anything at all. For
> a current example, see the Tenenbaum case:
> http://ars
> technica.c
> om/tech-po
> licy/news/2009/09/riaa-continues-to-squeeze-tenenbaum-wants-injunction.ars
> Whether we agree with the music industry or not in this case, it seems as if
> the old system can only be continued by threatening to throw people in jail
> or threatening to impoverish them. And even then it won't stop it. To me,
> the case of Tenenbaum and the consequences is precisely the same as the
> Catholic Church's attempts to control publishing through coercive methods
> and use of their "Index of Forbidden Books." The only people who were
> punished were those unfortunates who happened to be in their jurisdiction,
> and they were tortured and/or burned at the stake. But for *everyone else,*
> it was relatively free and open, like in Holland or Britain or Germany. And
> some printers used the "Index" as their guide for what to publish,
> something
> the Church thought was especially perverse. Of course, we see now that many
> of the main advances in human thought at this time came from outside Church
> lands.
> This is the situation we have now. Everyone understands that if you are on
> the web, you must be findable in Google or you will die. That's why "page
> rank" is so important and why companies pay so much to improve it. I submit
> that if we want to remain relevant, our cataloging information *must be
> used* in Google Books when the full-text becomes available. Do we really
> think that the majority of people will *not* use the Google Books interface
> but will prefer ours instead, where they will, by definition, get only a
> subset of the materials available to them. This is a moment of crisis for
> the catalog, itself. I think it must evolve into something bigger than ever
> before.
> To be honest, if Google decides to give money to OCLC or not is completely
> irrelevant to me. I'm sure my library won't see any of it, and I don't think
> any of us will profit from it personally, but it might help OCLC. Big whoop!
> But then push comes to shove, and our catalog records must be made useful in
> the Google environment -- somehow. This is something that we haven't been
> able to do ourselves in our current library catalogs where we had some kind
> of control. In that sense, Google will have complete control of it. What
> will they come up with? I don't have the slightest idea.
> Oh yeah, there's lots of other metadata in there too, like the Armenian,
> Brazilian etc. that the Google fellow discussed. Will our "better"
> metadata
> simply override theirs? When? And how will it all mash together?
> I can't escape the feeling that in a couple of hundred years when people
> look back at this time of transition, they'll find it rather amusing that we
> continue to try and try to force these new resources and methods into our
> old forms instead of focusing on how to take advantage of the new.
> A few thoughts,
> Jim Weinheimer

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fwd: Re: An article to warm the hearts of cataloguers

> On Tue, 8 Sep 2009 16:43:46 -0400, ...
> wrote:
> >Libraries had a chance with the web, but bad technology, bad thinking
> >and discouragement from OCLC and others stymied engagement, and more
> >than a decade we almost NEVER get a library in a search result.
> >Libraries had a chance with the open data, social networking and
> >mashups, and they dropped the ball. No top 1,000 website uses library
> >data, except Google Books (sort of), and even in social cataloging, of
> >the five sites, only one (LT) uses library data├Żand that's been a
> >constant struggle.
> >
> >Now we're moving past the web and metadata into the stuff itself├Żand
> >the Kindle may well be the coup de grace.
> >
> >Sorry to be a pessimist.
> I can imagine that I would agree completely *if* I were not a librarian, so
> I fully confess that I have a personal stake in this discussion. It's tough
> when others consider that you and your career should be consigned to the
> waste-basket of history, and it's even worse when you secretly think it may
> be true, yourself.
> Of course, I do not want us to go silently into that great goodnight, and
> from the larger point of view, I don't think that librarians should
> disappear. When I work with people, it turns out that they don't have the
> slightest idea how to go about finding useful information on the web, other
> than typing words into a Google box and watching what does and does not pop
> up. It's all a complete mystery to them; they don't understand how Google
> works any better than how the library catalog works. It's all rather like
> people watching a magician onstage, producing rabbits, cards and flowers out
> of their coat sleeves, hats, and from behind someone's ear!
> But libraries are threatened as they perhaps, have never been before. They
> demand a lot of money, which has been short for a long time and getting
> shorter as we speak, while libraries often have some of the most attractive
> spaces and buildings on a campus or in a community--space that others would
> prefer to have for themselves.
> This is the climate why I believe librarians must sit down and deeply
> reconsider what it is that they are *really* doing, doing something the
> horse-and-buggy folks did *not* do when automobiles were introduced. Those
> people thought they were in the horse-and-buggy business, but it turned out
> they were not. They were in the transportation business, but they
> couldn't--or wouldn't--see that at the time and everything passed them by. I
> think journalists are in the same dilemma today. They must reconsider what
> they are *really* doing, and it is not writing for a newspaper on a topic
> assigned by an editor to get some filler for the local section. I don't know
> what they are really doing, but that is their problem, not mine.
> I have spent some time at this, and I think that the business that libraries
> are really in is *not* maintaining and organizing collections; it's not
> selection, acquisition, description, organization, circulation, reference,
> preservation. I think the business that libraries are really in is:
> facilitating scholarly communication. But I use the term "scholarly
> communication" in a different way than what is commonly understood, but I
> can't find better term(s). In the sense that I am using the terms, a
> "scholar" is not just some dude with a PhD. It means anyone who is
> fairly
> serious and who wants to learn something. This can mean a 4-year old child
> to an emeritus professor. So, the emphasis is on helping people to learn,
> not so much for sheer entertainment, although they can certainly use our
> tools as well.
> I also see "Communication" differently: not just simply emails or
> hyperlinks
> between people and text, but communication that goes beyond time and space.
> In this sense, someone from today can "communicate" with Plutarch or
> Confucius, although it is rather one-way communication, but an 18th century
> scholar on Plutarch can also be included in this communication, as well as
> those today.
> So, once this idea of "scholarly communication" is seen, our task is
> to
> "help" in all kinds of ways. That's what libraries and librarians have
> always done. We *help* in determining useful vs. non-useful information,
> reliable sources, providing reliable search results, and so on. In the past,
> we controlled a lot of this process because of the intricacies of the book
> market and through our cataloging rules, but the new information environment
> means that a lot of the controls we have always enjoyed in selection,
> acquisition, description and so on have already disappeared. We must accept
> that--in some cases, gratefully!--and move on.
> There's still a place for librarians, their skills and I think perhaps most
> important is their ethical stance. But we've got to carve it out somehow.
> Jim Weinheimer