Wednesday, April 20, 2011

RE: Conference names : use of annual, etc.

Posting to RDA-L

Amanda Xu wrote:
<snip>
Adopting and implementing RDA standards and technologies is different from fixing "a broken motorcycle or automobile." In the later case, you have to replace parts that are not working or need to be modernized. The pipes or wires that connect to the parts may not be durable any longer.
In an ideal RDA implementation scenario, we will extract what is working out of the old engine, transform and load them into the new platform or simply add a plug-in or appliance between the old and new interface if we can't afford the new platform.
If we did right, the end users shouldn't even be aware that such transformation had occurred except some nice UI features. It happened just like when we migrate from Windows XP to Windows Vista or later version.
The new arrival collections will mount directly into the new platform under the new standards and technologies governed by RDA as the universal content model for the discovery of library resources, and the support of user tasks as defined in FRBR/FRAD. That is why we are learning from each other and the RDA toolkit right now.
Backward compatible tools, e.g. from RDA to AACR2 are needed as well. For those libraries who can not afford the upgrade. This should be surprised at all for those of us who have years of experience with the info ecology systems.
Technically speaking, the implementation of RDA is not about fixing. It is about extracting, transforming, loading (a.k.a. ETL), etc. Of course, to do it right, doctor-like diagnosis and analysis of the library's resources, workflows, etc. is critical.
</snip>
The question being discussed was: what is the purpose of adding the frequency to a conference name? This does not involve extracting, transforming, or loading. I mentioned that I could not see any reason for adding the frequency that would be useful either for patrons or librarians, and I asked: what is broken that this proposal attempts to fix? I pointed out, in fact, that such a rule would very possibly make it more complicated for end users to find conference names and some sort of way would need to be found to bring the variant names of the same conference together. This would be getting really complicated and somebody, somewhere should have to say why we need to add the frequency. Where is the evidence that end users or librarians are having problems that this would fix? If there is no evidence, there is no problem and therefore, nothing to fix. We should not assume that just because there is a proposed rule change in RDA, or in any cataloging rules, that it is either useful or needed. Evidence should be given.

Many of the changes with RDA seem similar in their utility to the end users and to the librarians, at least that's how they seem to me.

I have nothing against extracting, transforming and loading, but this is not what I see the changes of RDA doing. Those would be tasks mainly for systems librarians. Such tasks will demand changes in our formats and to establish some levels of interoperability with other systems out there, while questions of abbreviations, eliminating O.T. and N.T., changes in conference names, and others, have nothing whatsoever to do with ETL.

And I must repeat that if the end users don't even notice these changes except for some UI features (that can be debated whether those features will be nice or awful), the usefulness of the final product will be highly questionable. I won't mention again my doubts about the validity of the FRBR "user tasks". There needs to be some major user research and a business plan that makes sense.

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