Tuesday, December 28, 2010

RE: New "Cataloging Matters" podcast

Posting to NGC4LIB
Alexander Johannesen wrote:
<snip>
The slogan *should* be; "Mapping knowledge for all humanity."
</snip>
and
<snip>
When the whole world will use http://library.org/person/samuel_clemens and http://library.org/person/mark_twain as persistent identifiers within a mergable identifier framework, there will be bliss, singing and dancing in the streets, and both librarians and normal folks looking for a semantic crutch in a world so complex will hug and drink mulled wined together, and all shall be well.*
* Oh, and extend (or refine) FRBR to take serious identification (like a canonical set of rules for merging and culling) into account while you're at it, and you've got exactly what the world needs.
</snip>
I completely agree that if we could only get the persistent identifiers out there, people would want to use our work, and I think the mapping--or much of it--would then be done almost by default. This is because the authority and bibliographic records have lots of references already, but the problem is that they represent what is in essence, a closed system, i.e. authority records link only to other authority records, or in the case of bibliographical records, only to other bibliographical records, to the items themselves, or to other pages created specifically by the publishers such as for author biographical information or summary notes.

As an example, see the Mark Twain heading http://authorities.loc.gov/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?DB=local&Search_Arg=Twain%20Mark%201835-1910&Search_Code=SHED_&CNT=50+records+per+page (click the first heading and keep clicking), and you will see lots of information, but not much of use to a patron, except that he or she can find the form of the name used in the catalog, plus discover some weird things about how they have to search under other names to get everything by Mark Twain.

In my own opinion, this "system" desperately needs to be broadened, which could be done primarily through automated means. There may be some relatively quick and easy way to include the records in the dbpedia project, e.g. somehow to include the page http://dbpedia.org/page/Mark_Twain. People would love to have the links available from there, including the "influences on" and "influenced by" (although I may or may not agree with all of them); or through something that I have attempted crudely with my Extend Search http://tinyurl.com/345mf9t, which attempts to help people find other related resources, but my attempt could be improved tremendously, especially if there were some level of cooperation.

In many ways, I think that what is needed is a change in the "World View" of the cataloger community, so that we see our primary task as making records that will help people discover the world of information that is *really* available to them--not only to related library records. This change in "World View" has already happened long ago with our patrons.

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