Wednesday, March 9, 2011

RE: [ACAT] question about RDA: title capitalization and ME relator codes

Posting to Autocat

Brenndorfer, Thomas wrote:
<snip>
[James Weinheimer wrote]:
> What strikes me in these kinds of discussions is that we see an increasing complexity to reach what is precisely the same result.
No, the complexity is derived from the opacity in AACR2, where all of these terms have to be decided upon by catalogers in any case so they know what can be a main entry and what can only be an added entry. Instead of recording those decisions, we slot entries into 1XX's and 7XX's as if the only output that matters is card catalog sorting.
</snip>
The determination of a *single* main entry is a different, and quite difficult, matter, and as I have mentioned a number of times, selecting a *single* main entry is an anachronism left over from the physical forms of the catalog. Figuring out a single main entry really can be difficult, but if we could change it from what we have now (single 1xx and multiple 7xx) to something more like--even--Dublin Core with "creator" and "contributor", it would make it easier for us to work and train (e.g. no longer figuring out whether a corporate body should get main entry, although it is definitely a "creator").

But this is a problem of determining which of the many creators/contributors to place into the 1xx field, not figuring out which roles they have played. I don't think that has ever been much of a problem. Certainly not in my experience.
<snip>
[James Weinheimer wrote]:
> Adding the relator codes will not help anyone *find* anything more than they do now, it is that adding relators *may* help people *identify* a specific item they want.
Sure it will. Check out "Clint Eastwood" in Internet Move Database (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000142/). The results are divided by his role-- actor, director, producer, and so on.
</snip>
No, what this shows is not *finding* but "identification". In the IMDB, you can *find* only by "All; Titles; TV Episodes; Names; Companies; ..." (from the drop down box). Once you have *found* in this way, then you can *identify*, in this case of Clint Eastwood, by Actor, Director, Producer. If you could choose in the drop-down box, by actor, director, producer, etc. then you could *find* by more, but as it is, it only helps with identification after the search result.
<snip>
How is it easier to wade through all results lumped together to find the movies he just directed? Currently we have to scan the entire record to find statements that indicate that relationship (and we put those statements in because we claim they're important for the end-user, yet we certainly don't make it easy for users to sift through results !!).
</snip>
This shows a larger area of concern. From a theoretical, even utopian point of view, I agree, but there are basic--even brutal--facts that state otherwise. What are those facts? 1) there is a finite number of library catalogers; 2) that number is not growing appreciably and may be heading downward; 3) library budgets are in great trouble; 4) yet the numbers of materials needing cataloging is growing, and perhaps exponentially. Conclusion: sooner or later, something has to go "POP!" In other words, what we have now is not a sustainable situation.

Does it make sense that we make the cataloging of individual records even more complex? Does it make sense to spend our resources to recreate a functionality currently available to everyone in the IMDB, while admitting that our product will forever be incomplete since we cannot retrospectively update our records? (What a waste of resources that would be!) What would be the patron's view if we decided to add the relator codes for films to our new records anyway? They would conclude (correctly) that our work was inferior to IMDB since the results would be complete in IMDB and not in a library catalog.

Libraries have only so many resources and there *definitely must be* a tradeoff: would our public rather have catalogers add this kind of role information (that they can find in the IMDB and scads of other sites online), or that we spend our time making more records?

There is a third way possible today: to admit that library catalogs are not separate, but exist within a tremendous universe of information that can be exploited in all kinds of ways. How can we use that universe of information? Would there be some way for libraries to use (interoperate with) the "superior" information in the IMDB or in one of these other sites, instead of redoing the same work?

We must focus on what is practical today, even if it may be unpleasant. It is a fact that people have many problems using our catalog records (as I tried to point out in my previous post). Is relator information one of the problems? Perhaps or perhaps not, but if it is, it is definitely far, far, far down the list. We need to focus our energies on the important problems.

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