Posting to RDA-L
Barbara Tillett wrote:
James – If we just keep business as usual, I am convinced libraries will go the way of the dinosaurs, and very soon (as we’ve seen academic and public libraries shutting down branches and closing catalog depts to rely on vendors or technicians to do copy cataloging only).
The metadata we provide has tremendous potential for re-use in the internet environment in ways that will make libraries even more relevant to users everywhere, and that is what we are preparing for with RDA – when we can move to creating well-formed metadata following RDA’s elements and relationships, away from the AACR2 mentality of creating only linear citation listings with main entries and authorized headings (it can be done other ways, given labeling the data for machine re-use). We must break with that kind of 19th and 20th century thinking. It’s not just a matter of little tweaks to AACR2 and LCRIs.
We definitely need our vendors on board to make all this much easier for catalogers, and we can build a shared vision of where we are going with all this. Why not a shared datafile of the world’s bibliographic and authority data, freely accessible for all to use – not behind OCLC’s WorldCat with its costs and restrictions and the costly repetition of the same data in local OPACs around the world – why not replace OPACs with much better resource discovery systems? Ex Libris is moving that direction as is III. Those resource discovery systems of tomorrow will be able to answer all sorts of user questions, not just the author/title/subject index choices we give them now, and not just be proprietary to libraries but open to the entire information community. We could be doing so much more for so much less cost by sharing globally and using a structure of well-formed metadata, packaged in an RDA-based XML schema.
I would much rather be energized by such a prospect than wallow in the gloom and doom of today’s economic woes. Let’s make it less expensive and better than ever.
I agree with what you say almost completely. Libraries must update their “world views” to include what the general public actually uses by adapting to the new information environment, or as I described it in my talk at the RDA@yourlibrary conference, these are matters of Darwinian survival.
Where I disagree is that I believe the changes of RDA really are just little tweaks to AACR2 and the LCRIs; they are not indicative of any real change either for the sharing or production of our records, and will not help or hinder the new directions you outline. But catalogers themselves will be hindered since everyone will have to learn to use new tools and new terminology to produce what is the same product as today, except for a few cosmetic changes. I have yet to see how RDA will improve the situation for our patrons, while being incredibly disruptive–and expensive–for us. We need CHANGE–not typing out abbreviations and adding a few extra fields. Those are not the problems we face.
But I am repeating myself, and I hate to say bad things about RDA on this list. The more I think about it, I think Michael Gorman’s talk at the conference really makes the most sense in the current environment.
Still, I think we all agree about where we want to end up; we just disagree on how to get there.