Posting to Autocat
On Thu, 20 May 2010 12:43:50 -0700, Ed Jones wrote:
>I guess this is why I tend to view the introduction of RDA with more equanimity than many. Been there, done that.
I began my library career later, after the introduction of AACR2, but I have worked a lot with all kinds of earlier library rules as well as with rules outside libraries.
While I have no doubt that catalogers can deal with learning and implementing RDA if they are directed to do so, it still hasn’t been made clear exactly how this is supposed to help anybody. AACR2 and its massive changes really did open up the possibility of record sharing on an international basis–not just the ISBD areas, but taking the entire record became possible as the headings themselves became shared. That was a substantial improvement.
While I understand RDA as a theoretical construct, I personally have never seen any practical advantages of the RDA/FRBR theoretical datamodel over what we do today. I still do not see how it will lead to greater international sharing of records among libraries, and especially among metadata groups outside of libraries, who will *never* accept RDA or the datamodel, which really is a bizarre creation. Many of the RDA rules still follow card usage: a single main entry, emphasis on browsing headings (still atavistically termed “access points” when each word in the entire record now is equally a point of access), plus the refusal to deal in a constructive way with the power of full-text searching, the economic crisis and so on and so on. All of this leads me to believe that RDA will only split the cataloging world at a very inopportune moment. It will not improve accsss, increase productivity, nor will it be implemented by metadata creators outside the normal library community. Plus of course, you have to pay to access the rules.
Again, this is not to blame anyone. The world of information really is changing that quickly, and RDA is mired in the practices of the past. The problems with catalogs do *not* lie with the rules and guidelines for input; changing them will change nothing at all–I think we all realize that. The real change with the WWW is that people have discovered new ways to search for information and what they expect to do with the information once they have found it. The traditional library catalog no longer fills that need. Instead of dealing with this fundamental problem, FRBR and RDA still maintain that people want to: find/identify/select/obtain –> works/expressions/manifestations/items by their authors/titles/subjects. Yet, this is so outdated that I don’t need to discuss it. Is that how anybody on this list really searches when they are doing their own research?
Certainly the people I work with do not. Most people under 35 or 40 know only Google’s single text box and consequently, they don’t even know that they can search by author/title/subject! While I do search for authors/titles/subjects sometimes, it certainly is the exception rather than the rule, and certainly it is *extremely rare* when I actually care about works/expressions/manifestations/items. Since I am an historian and real book-lover, at least I do want this kind of information once in a very great while, but for 99.99% of our public, I doubt if they want it at all.
I am not saying that what catalogers make is useless–quite the contrary. Our records and methods represent a control over information description and access that is not replicated anywhere else. That needs to be recognized up front. But since the way the public interacts with information has changed so fundamentally, the way this same public interacts and uses the records we make must change as well. Otherwise, they will go elsewhere.
I am all for change, but not for the sake of change in itself *if* it demands a lot of labor and funding. There must be substantial advantages shown: that productivity will increase substantially; we will gain a lot of new and very useful records for copy; the need for training will go down substantially; even if access were improved significantly, that may be a reason. Whatever the advantages will be, they must be laid out in very practical ways, not just discussions of horrifying graphs that fill your soul with despair, along with vague promises of a bright future someday. RDA has not shown these things while AACR2 was clear in the improvements it promised.
That’s why I again suggest for people to consider the Cooperative Cataloging Rules at http://sites.google.com/site/opencatalogingrules/