Thursday, August 5, 2010

RE: [RDA-L] Cataloging Podcast

Posting to RDA-L

Karen Coyle wrote:

<snip>
Unfortunately, you, Diane, and Jonathan are not talking about the same thing. You, Jim, are talking about the rules, and Diane and Jonathan are talking about the data model. Unfortunately, both ISBD and RDA describe both data model and the rules for making decisions about the data.
</snip>

That's what I figured. The problem is, the data model is still unproven in various ways, as I wrote in my earlier message: (emphasizing the point)
"That doesn't make sense, *unless the idea is that we must shoehorn everything into an FRBR world* where everything has all those extra records for works, expressions and so on. That is an unwarranted assumption, I believe. The model was never tested for conformance to reality, for practical considerations, or for value to our users."

Obviously, the FRBR/RDA data model was derived from the traditional library-bibliographic model, with some leaps of the imagination that turned out to be rather large in some cases, e.g. Do all information resources have their respective works, expressions, manifestations and items? I don't know. In the traditional library-bibliographic model, these things are of no concern in the majority of cases, and we worry about works and expressions only when necessary. And what are the consequences if we say that all information resources do, in fact, have works, expressions, etc.? It turns out that these consequences are also rather large. Then are they all worth it for our purposes or for the public's purposes?

So far as I know, no one is asking these extremely practical questions, and is part of what my podcast was about: is it "change for change's sake?" Do many people consider RDA to be that kick in the behind that cataloging and catalogers need?

The traditional catalog was a pragmatic tool and above all, a practical one, built it had certain specific purposes in mind and was very much based on trial and error. It was also created before the Internet and virtual materials became important. Anybody who has cataloged a single website understands that our traditional methods, that worked pretty well for centuries, begin to break down. To take such a tool and expand it into a theoretical data model encompassing all types of information resources is unjustified without a great deal of testing.

Again, I am not saying that anyone is at fault. I also thought the FRBR data model was correct for a long time, but it slowly dawned on me that this was a problem in my own mind and I had to break away from it. The problems instituting it are legion, they are too obvious, and FRBR has yet to show either its theoretical validity or real value to us or to the public. We can change our traditional data model--I don't care, but there must be good, solid reasons for it, and it must be grounded on practical tests, not simply some theoretical, "It's the wave of the future" statements.

I don't believe it's the wave of the future.

1 comment:

  1. Hi
    I am a IS student here in Albany, NY, USA. I am slowly "mastering" AACR2...and now this RDA is coming about. My Professor, a published and intelligent cataloger, says, for us, AACR2/MARC is much more important than intro'ing RDA. Fair enough, but I have to know it I say to myself. Well, this site is a great introduction! I will record ALL the podcasts for personal listening, and will poke around this site from time to time. A blog/podcast about cataloging....I love it!

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