Wednesday, March 3, 2010

RE: [ACAT] RDA, AACR2 and a simple, commonsense implementation plan

Posting to Autocat
On Tue, 2 Mar 2010 10:59:42 -0000, jscsecretary wrote:

Thank you for taking the time to reply. I would also like to second the
excellent messages in this and the related thread.

>Transcription is a good case in point. In AACR2 there are many exceptions to the rules for transcription, including some which undermine the principle of transcribing, such as interpolation of cataloguer notes or corrections within the transcribed data. RDA's "take what you see" approach facilitates re-use of metadata from other sectors and also facilitates automated matching. I have also commented on the examples you cited in your message; each change contributes to the modernisation of the cataloguing rules.

I agree that this is a very basic point of difference. I will personally bow to Mac's and Mike's far greater experience with publisher ONIX metadata than I have and their experience seems to be that it is not accurate enough and is far from a transcription of the information that is really on the item. My own, lesser experience shows the same. The reason? For me, these records are made normally by secretaries (nothing bad with that!) but they have typically received only a few hours of training and then turned loose. The way they see this task is similar to "filling out a form" and not "describing and organizing information." Creating metadata to manage documents is a far different task from cataloging. Therefore, since there are no agreed-upon standards, each ONIX record has to be checked over and over and over--that is, if a library wants to maintain standards, and this represents absolutely no change from the incredible inefficiencies of what we have today. I do not see that RDA helps this in any way at all.

Still, I believe that my views on this differ slightly from Mac's and Mike's, in that they would probably say that I am a dreamer. I believe that in reality, everyone who makes metadata in the world are not enemies (library catalogers vs. secretaries, vs. document repository managers vs. whomever else). I think that really we are all on the same side and all very scared right now. The solution is not to create an entirely new set of rules which will prove to be highly divisive among ourselves and then expect the rest of the world to adapt to those and if they don't, we will just keep doing whatever it is we are doing. Such an attitude, in my opinion, is unsustainable and probably will not even be permitted in this Darwinian time we seem to be entering. The task is to have *cataloging rules* where all the interested parties can "cooperate." (Hint! Hint!)

We must reach, not the people in charge who have never made a metadata record in their lives and wouldn't be caught dead making one, but all of those who are actually making those records: the catalogers, the secretaries, the metadata specialists, the whatever they are called. The more there is opt-in into such a system, and the more cooperation there is, the greater the chance that people will follow the standards and hence, the reliability of the records we all receive, no matter what kind of metadata creator we happen to be. Everyone helps everyone else. This is the way standards work.

This is why whatever we do must be freely accessible, since it must reach the maximum of metadata creators. It must be simple, since if it is complicated, no one will follow it. I feel that we must create some kind of standards that more people must follow, since this task of rechecking every record has been unsustainable for a long, long time. If you decide to give up checking everything and let in lousy metadata, you have the problem that you are laying thousands of little land mines all over the place just waiting to explode. If every store in your neighborhood had to check every pack of candy before they sold it because some 10% or 20% (or more?) might have bugs in them (lack of standards), and they had to do it for all of their goods, modern society could not exist. It is far past time that we have the same sort of standards that our businesses have.

Considering your remarks on:

>"Elimination of the rule of three"
>The rule of three was a pragmatic response to the economics of card production, but it is very difficult to justify from the perspective of the user. ...
>"Changes in the abbreviations?"
>The use of abbreviations is another legacy of the card catalogue. ...
>"Using "place of publication not identified"?"
>"Place of publication not identified" replaces the abbreviation "s.l.", which, as every cataloguer has learned, stands for "sine loco". The use of Latin abbreviations was once thought to transcend linguistic boundaries. It would be very difficult to argue that this is still the case.

My point was that RDA merely replaces one bit of arbitrary text with another bit of arbitrary text. Although these changes may be positive or negative (I won't get into that), to me, it's nothing more than the next batch of LCRI's (Oh look! Now we combine the index note into the bibliography note. And here: we aren't counting the plates anymore...) and it is both unnecessary and unproductive to come up with an entirely new rule set. (BTW, concerning the rule of three, it was not so much a decision of too many cards in the catalog, but the work involved for the cataloger to do all the authority work. If you don't have authority work to do and check, adding 50 name headings is not that much work, but if you add authority control, it becomes a much bigger undertaking. See how much time it takes just to look up 50 names that are already in the authority file, some names such as "Johnson, Mary")

So, I think you and I are on the same side, we disagree on direction. I believe that changing how we record arbitrary text is entirely irrelevant to the issues facing us. We need to reach agreement with other metadata creators so that we can really cooperate without editing everything over and over and over again, which means we are not cooperating. But the solution is to cooperate instead of coming up with a new set of our own rules and presenting them to the world. For a price.

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