Monday, March 15, 2010

RE: Infrastructure for RDA

Posting to Autocat

On Sun, 14 Mar 2010 14:48:23 -0800, J. McRee Elrod wrote:

>You are also right, I fear, that ILS's will do no better job of
>displaying RDA than AACR2, particularly since RDA gives *no* guidance
>concerning display. We are advising clients to stick as close to ISBD
>as possible for display.

I don't see how the RDA *display of the individual bibliographic record* will change at all from what we have now. (Pardons for using the obsolete "bibliographic record") Behind the scenes, most of the the information will be imported from various other "records" work/expression and from the name, subject authority files, but the public display of an individual bibliographic record/instance/whatever will be substantially the same.

Where it will be different will be in the display of the various "manifestations." Instead of having separate and successive bibliographic records in a multiple display, similar to the card catalog, they will all be merged. The practical example I think that shows FRBR displays the best is FictionFinder http://fictionfinder.oclc.org/

If you look at anything in there (I am looking at the record for Stevenson's "Kidnapped") you will see the basic information, plus 468 editions in different languages and formats. You can arrange and limit these editions in all kinds of ways. They have all done a really great job and we can see more or less clearly the work, expressions, manifestations and items.

But we have to ask ourselves: is this what our users want? It seems to me this is what we are aiming for with FRBR and RDA, and if we achieve this generally for all of our materials, we can confidently claim success. Yet, would anyone outside of the library community consider such displays a success? If we achieve these kinds of displays, will we find our users coming back to use them? Ask yourselves: is this what you want when you do a search? That is, not as a cataloger, but as a user or researcher?

I have to say for myself: absolutely not. Such a display would never have helped me in my researches, and as a non-cataloger, such a display would probably be both obscure and frightening. In fact, I think these displays actually harken back to a much earlier time and are based on Panizzi's catalog. (I have been doing a lot of thinking about this and think it would be fascinating to reopen the discussion he began, now that we have some working prototypes based on his ideas)

To continue, I believe that users will find such displays very strange and of little utility. To me, the FictionFinder project shows very convincingly, that the FRBR declaration that users want to "find, identify, select and obtain: works, expressions, manifestations, and items" is definitively wrong.

What do people really want? I don't know but there is a lot of research going on right now. Obviously, the way people use the web is changing all the time. But FRBR seems extremely suspect.

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