Posting to RDA-L
On 05/20/2011 04:20 PM, Christopher Cronin wrote:
>> James Weinheimer wrote: “It is simply unrealistic to think people will do more than the minimum.”
> It is? I have yet to hear of a single library in the test, or that subsequently implemented RDA, that has made a policy to limit description and access to the first named creators just because RDA says we can. In fact, I have heard and seen evidence demonstrating exactly the opposite. RDA’s elimination of the ceiling that was the ‘Rule of Three’ has freed catalogers to transcribe full statements of responsibility, and as a BIBCO institution, we are providing access points and authority control with the same mindset as we always have — if it is important for discovery and access, we do the work. But even if another library did do just the minimum, perhaps because that’s truly all they could afford, or all they required to meet their particular needs, or all they felt was warranted by the resource for their purposes, I’m certainly not going to malign it. I say great — contribute your minimum to the collective and we’ll add to it. That’s why we have a collective.
> I simply do not understand this impetus to underestimate the ability of catalogers to put what they do into a larger context. I don’t employ any robots here at Chicago, I employ professional catalogers with the capacity to use their best, experienced, reasoned, and well-informed judgment. And I certainly don’t equate the application of professional cataloger’s judgment with “Do whatever you feel like!” nor have I have seen evidence that the catalogers do either. If bosses need to be subverted because they don’t understand what catalogers do, why they do it, and for whom, that’s the boss’s problem, not RDA’s. Communities don’t write content standards to subvert ill-informed bosses. Implementing RDA, and understanding the FRBR model behind it, has only heightened, not diminished, Chicago’s catalogers’ focus on the needs of the user — even if meeting those needs is at the expense of the cataloger’s (i.e., taking time to spell things out rather than abbreviate, and transcribe full statements of responsibility, etc.).
> We are arguing for the same thing — providing the best possible level of access for our users. But “minimum” and “best possible” is relative to the resource, the institution, and the user — the RDA instructions for minimally providing the first-named creator simply recognizes that relativity and allows an institution to make choices to go beyond it. With the ceiling removed, the sky is the limit. In the 2,000 or so RDA copy cataloging records we have imported since October 2010, we have not seen evidence of a problem with this instruction. Metadata has been very robust so far in our exeprience. But again, if you think it isn’t working, then it would be helpful not just to read the complaint, but also a proposed solution or alternative to the instructions in question.
Of course, no library is going to advertise something like that, just as the food industry is not advertising how they are shrinking their packages and raising prices at the same time (lots of articles out there, here is a recent one http://www.nj.com/business/index.ssf/2011/04/food_prices_costs_packages_con.html). People do these things quietly so that they don’t have to hear a lot of howling. Also, although a catalog division or individual cataloger may start out having every intention of being ethical, doing it “right”, etc. these intentions change over time as everyone feels the increasing pressure for more productivity, and catalogers will most probably be pushed hard in the future. These sorts of pressures happen all the time in all fields–and that is precisely why the government established minimums for the business world, to guarantee specific levels of quality, so that when times are tough, the quality doesn’t go down too far. This is only being realistic. The standards are based on what people need, not on what resources a company has available at the moment, and if a company cannot produce a minimal quality product, they shouldn’t be allowed to muck everything up for everybody. Perhaps this
is not very nice, but critical in society.
RDA has determined that a single author is good enough. I wonder what the faculty would say about the single author rule where their co-authors can legitimately be left out, along with editors and other contributors? I doubt if they would like it very much at all.
And although you may not want to equate cataloger’s judgment with “Do whatever you feel like!” it nevertheless remains true, because it will follow the standards. (I wrote a post on this to Autocat