Posting to RDA-L
Kevin M. Randall wrote:
James Weinheimer wrote:
I don’t think I am missing the point of RDA, and the abbreviations are a great example. Do we really believe that a simple rule change will “solve” whatever “problems” the public supposedly has with abbreviations in the catalog? Sorry, but I find that very naive.
Did you read the rest of my post? This response shows that you still do not understand at all. The “simple rule changes” are *NOT* the changes that are significant in RDA. What is significant and has great potential is the entire concept behind RDA, creating a framework that brings metadata into the current age of information technology
Well, if you insist so strongly that I don’t understand, it certainly must be true! 🙂
But please bear with me and let me insist that I do understand. The underlying structure of RDA, which tries to envision the FRBR structure, is still something that is highly debatable. First, there is still no evidence that this structure is wanted or needed by our patrons. Every FRBR-type project I have seen is of limited use for our patrons, in my professional opinion, since our patrons are moving away from such things into the world of “search”. Certainly people will look at and play with the displays, but there is still no evidence that it provides what they need, especially WEMI. And WEMI is one of the main products we will be making. I think very, very few people need that. The second point, and of course the most important, is the business case that demonstrates that all this is actually worthwhile in the business and financial sense. Both of these points have been advanced over and over throughout the years and certainly didn’t start with me.
In any case, I think the library world has to demonstrate some kind of substantive advances, and I think we have to demonstrate them soon since the information world is moving away from us faster and faster, and along with that world goes a lot of the funding. Instead of swallowing the promises of a future Eldorado, the powers that be are starting to ask: what can you do now? This is why I mentioned the abbreviations “problem” and the changes to the Russian headings. We can change everything in our new records but there is still a massive amount of legacy data out there that our patrons will be seeing and working with every day just as much, or probably far more, than with the newer records we create. So, whether it’s some completely insignificant rule change about abbreviations, or something bigger with new frameworks and structures, it all comes down to the same thing: our patrons will be working with both every day in every single search they do. This is why I say we have to look at it through their eyes, and not ours. From that point of view, things look much less revolutionary.
Now, we can either convert the older records, or we could place those older records into a separate database, in essence, archive it all. This would be one idea that I may go along with, and then start fresh with a brand-new format, rules, and so on and the task would be to get the two databases to interoperate as closely as possible. Of course, all this assumes that RDA and FRBR is useful and needed by our patrons AND that it’s worth the costs.
I am certainly not saying that I know what people want when they search for information. That can only be discovered after research, especially in times as dynamic as our own. To begin creating an FRBR/RDA structure on the assumption that it provides people with what they need (otherwise why would you create it?), without any evidence for it, is unwarranted. So, the FRBR/RDA structure may be revolutionary and great, or it may just be a continuation of the 19th century structures, placed into the 21st century, which is my own opinion.