Posting to Autocat (concerning a number of terminations in libraries in Texas)
On 05/04/2011 05:51 PM, Truitt, Marc wrote:
Where I disagree is in trying to drag RDA into the conversation. This only confuses the issue. It doesn't matter what cataloguing code you use, the results in the current climate will be the same. Most administrators, politicians, and bean counters wouldn't know AACR2r from RDA from a hole-in-the-wall. They (think they know) costs. They (think they know) user preferences. They (think) that "good enough" will suffice.
Point taken. Still, I think it is important to include RDA since, so far as I know, it is the only profession-wide initiative that is being touted as a solution that will help our users. And that has yet to be demonstrated.
The bigger consideration however, as you point out, is the more general idea among the powers-that-be concerning the value of “human expert created metadata records”. Among a significant portion of the world, there is the idea that metadata is still important, as the Language Log blog, “Metadata Train Wreck” showed since it got so much discussion in the press, http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1701 including a spirited discussion with Jon Orwant from Google Books. The discussion stayed pretty elementary, as I remember, focusing more on accuracy of information than on correct name or subject headings. Such discussions fall on deaf ears when the bean counters are facing a budgetary crisis. The problem is: finding and fixing errors costs probably 5 or 10 times more than it costs to do something right in the first place, but there is no budget line for that.
But no matter what, I personally believe that if a library catalog fails, so will the library. The two are tied together. People go to a library for its collection (study halls and public rooms notwithstanding) and the *only* way into that collection is the catalog. Otherwise, you are left browsing the shelves, an act that completely falls apart if a collection takes up over a couple of rooms, and now with electronic materials, you don’t even need to do that.
I still believe that the main problems facing cataloging can be solved through automated means and a change in the library catalog’s “information architecture”. Our methods are still based on the card catalog, with the left-anchored textual browses and so on. This absolutely has to change. Plus, we need to completely rethink selection (but I won’t go into this).
Anyway, RDA addresses none of the major issues we are facing, but to be fair, neither does AACR2.