Friday, May 20, 2011

Re: Plans for Existing Bib Records?

Posting to RDA-L

I guess we have probably exhausted our respective points. I will only discuss one here:

On 05/20/2011 09:17 PM, Christopher Cronin wrote:
> Jim wrote:
>> "I wonder what the faculty would say about the single author rule where that co-authors can legitimately be left out, along with authors and other contributors? I doubt if they would like it very much at all."
> Exactly, couldn't agree more. And that's precisely why we have CHOSEN not to apply the minimum at OUR institution for the vast majority of what we do. Eight months and seven thousand records later, I can say with some confidence that RDA has presented no barrier or hindrance for Chicago to accomplish exactly what you are arguing for, James. But that doesn't mean that a different institution will make, what is for them, an equally-valid but different treatment decision for the same resource; the contribution they make to the collective is no less valuable. If a resource is peripheral to their collection and they don't need to invest in creating as robust metadata as we need for the same resource, which may be central to our collection, then we will add what we need. That's why we are here.

This shows a completely different attitude toward standards than what is in the other professions. For one thing, newer versions of standards should seek to provide improvements from what they were before, not something worse. Allowing a worse product actually says a lot. Companies whose business is storing and canning corn cannot decide on their own, without any research or discussion from the communities, to declare that the older standards were too high, that now lower standards will be allowed, say which standards they want to follow, and which standards they won't follow. But never fear, the community can "trust" whatever this specific organization makes because based on the "expertise" and "professionalism" of their own employees, nothing bad will happen. This is not how standards work. Any company who tried that with corn or wheat or automobile maintenance or electrical connections would be shut down, no matter how much they might proclaim that "their own employees will decide to do even more than is required." Yeah, sure. I don't know how many outside would believe that.

This isn't saying anything insulting about catalogers or the profession. It's merely saying that catalogers are no better, and no worse, than anybody else in the world. They are just human beings.

Again, RDA's standard was made arbitrarily--unless somebody out there can point to some kind of research done that showed our patrons wanted only a single author, plus a translator, plus an illustrator only of childrens' books, although I have never heard anybody suggest this--and then dropped it all into the lap of the cataloger. Just a couple of years ago--even right now, that is considered to be *not good enough* and can only be considered a huge step backward from what it has been.

Certainly, each institution can edit any record they receive, but then they stay on that crazy merry-go-round we are on now, where everybody is expected to edit each other's records because they just aren't good enough, and I am sure institutions will do it for a little while until they give up (again) from too many records to update and too much work to do. I certainly don't see how this is any kind of advance at all. You sure couldn't sell candy bars that way, checking each and every one for yuck inside before somebody got it!

What will you do when massive numbers of records come in--all following the RDA standard--that only have a single author? Or do you really think this won't happen because catalogers are too "professional" to allow standards to fall? Why not fault the standard itself? Why even allow it to happen and then have to clean up afterwards?

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