Friday, June 25, 2010

ALA Session on MODS and MADS: Current implementations and future directions

Posting to NGC4LIB

Bernhard Eversberg wrote:

More generally, we need to look at how people and services on the Web use to refer to and talk about books (or "resources" anyway). The notion of "title" is not used and understood with any degree of formal consistency, to begin with. It depends on how long and specific or unspecific it is, if the author's name is more prominent than the title itself ("read the new Dan Brown yet?"). And if the "title proper" is significant, why bother with the rest of the verbiage on the title page when refering to the book?

Wow! And I thought I was radical! You are absolutely right, and now that people have a genuine choice on search tools other than the ones we create, we must deal with these situations, otherwise people won't use our tools at all.

This reminds me of something I read recently in an absolutely fabulous, scholarly, weighty tome by Elizabeth Eisenstein, "The printing press as an agent of change." (http://tinyurl.com/3yzwfgn It is taking me forever to get through because I pause and think after every few sentences!) It is startling that there are so many parallels from the period of the late 1400s to the 1500s and our own time. One thing I read recently in it was that as the Bible was translated into the vernaculars, the Catholic Church naturally tried to stop them all by forbidding vernacular translations. The problem was, they couldn't stop them everywhere, but this meant that when lay people were interested in some of Biblical teachings, the only materials available were Protestant translations. Many Catholic monks in Protestant regions saw this happening and wanted people to have a choice, so some went ahead and translated the Bible into various vernaculars even at the risk of being labeled heretics.

If libraries do not give the public what it wants, the public will easily do without libraries, while certain people bemoan what is happening, all the while predicting the end of civilization.

Yet, I feel that there is--or should be--a certain level of dumbing down that we should not transgress. Titles?! Still, many students that I have worked with do not understand searching by "author" or "title" or "subject". This is what we get with Google.


It's a difficult moment, but I think Alex is right: the first step is to come to some kind of mutual understanding--not agreement--over these different concepts.

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