Posting to Autocat
This has been an especially engaging thread for me, since I have been out of the US. Certainly, people need to understand what a catalog record is and how it works, but if the purpose of library school is to prepare students (i.e. relatively young people) for an entire career, it does seem as if there is a need to prepare them, not only for traditional library cataloging, but for the entire metadata infrastructure. I think we all know that our formats will change relatively soon (that is, in the next 10 years I hope!), our rules may change very soon (although RDA is not much of a change). As authors create more and more resources for electronic access through the world wide web, or whatever it evolves into, I think that what library students will need more than anything else is to learn to be flexible, because nobody knows what is going to happen.
For the moment, library cataloging is still based on AACR2/MARC21 and even ISO2709! And so for the moment, people are still needed to create these kinds of records.
People can be trained/taught to be catalogers that can get a job today, but that is not enough, although it was fine 25 years ago, which was a period of much less change. Today, the future is completely unpredictable. Who predicted on January 1st of this year the problems in the Middle East that have toppled governments that had always seemed immovable? Who could have predicted that newspapers would be threatened with extinction? Who can predict what the information environment will be in 10 or 15 years?
In my opinion, what is of vital is that library students learn how to be important parts of this change, otherwise it will all take place without us. To me, the idea that everything will be decided by the Googles and Yahoos and Bill Gates’s and Steve Jobs and Sylvio Berlusconis is the real nightmare.
In the meantime, traditional library cataloging needs to be continued, and they need to have a good understanding of that. But in order to be a part of the coming changes, they need to understand how people really find information (which is absolutely *not* as it is laid out in FRBR!) and what they expect to do with it. In this sense, there is just as big of a need for reference work with the public, and it will be far more important for the librarians of the future to keep up with the latest research.
Librarians need to create a genuine, semi-united community that may actually make a difference.