Posting to NGC4LIB
Laval Hunsucker wrote:
I am personally in sympathy with the general drift of the last paragraph of your posting below, but can’t suppress my curiosity regarding what, specifically, you might have in mind as far as the borderline “outrageous ways” are concerned in which libraries/librarians would now have to cooperate.
What you understand under borderline “revolutionary ways”, on the other hand, is fairly clear to me from your previous postings.
Not just revolutionary cooperation, therefore, but even outrageous cooperation. Sounds potentially quite dramatic. Certainly for such a supposedly staid and reputable profession as ours.
What is outrageous to one group may easily leave another group completely cold. This is particularly relevant when it comes to standards. As a concrete example, here is a standard about something I know absolutely nothing about. This is from the US requirements for infant formula:
“(d) Vitamin B6 shall be present at a level of at least 15 micrograms of vitamin B6 for each gram of protein in excess of 1.8 grams of protein per 100 kilocalories of infant formula in the form prepared for consumption as directed on the container.”
Someone might come up and say that 10 micrograms of vitamin B6 is fine. To an expert in these matters, that may be an absolutely outrageous thing to even suggest, and would provoke a violent reply. I am not competent to judge.
Relating this back to cataloging and libraries, there are similar suggestions, e.g. that the original purpose of OCLC to allow libraries to exchange cataloging information has become completely obsolete in this new environment. In fact, an insistence on these outmoded processes is holding the entire field of librarianship back and if are field is to survive, other structures must be found and built. To a cataloger, this is a tremendous statement, but to an outsider, it may seem quite reasonable.
Another example. Here is a quote from Autocat: “The collective data of Worldcat represents the most extensive and highest quality metadata, and hence of bibliographic and identity linked data, that I’m aware of.” (attributed to Allen Mullen, but I can’t seem to find his original message with these words).
While I agree with this, I think there are lots and lots of people out there who would violently disagree. If we qualify this statement with: in the presence of the current expert system of standards, and in the hands of well-trained people who use and make these records, I shall agree, but that type of environment cannot be assumed today. There are, multiple users, multiple standards (throwing in RDA to muddy the water even further), multiple systems, multiple everything.
So, different people would find the above statement outrageous in different ways: those who agree or disagree will find the opposite assertion to be shocking. For someone who never uses our tools at all and uncritically relies only on what Google serves up to them (this represents an ever increasing percentage of the population) it’s not even an issue, just as my own relationship with the standard for infant formula.