On 05/14/2011 06:12 PM, Marian Veld wrote:
<snip>I won't discuss the political situation, but I do think that in these transitional/semi-emergency times (as discussed in "Permanent Shift?: Library Budgets 2010" http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/communityfunding/849932-268/permanent_shift_library_budgets_2010.html.csp), *everyone* will be entering a period of "prioritization" and there is no telling how libraries as a profession, or how any individual library will emerge. Therefore, to me the task seems clear: libraries must figure out ways to make themselves more important in the lives of their paymasters. It is really my belief that in the future, the primary contact that the public will have with libraries will be through virtual means, and consequently, the library catalog will become increasingly important. But in its current incarnation, it's just too difficult to use and nobody will sit still long enough to go through hours of training.
The problem is, given the American political system, those non-emergency changes never happen. Politicians and the media know they have to manufacture a crisis to get any real change to happen. So we end up being manipulated by whoever is best at getting our attention for their*emergency.*
I know, I know, education is the answer to this. Except it isn't because our education system is designed to produce sheep who believe everything they're told. I suppose in a way libraries are better educators than the education establishment. At least we usually make a pretense of neutrality and try to help people evaluate information for themselves.
For the present, I think what we need to do is make this primary contact with the catalog much less complex and more appealing for the patrons (also our paymasters). The vast majority of these changes can and should be done through innovations in systems and improved "information architecture". These are changes that can be enacted the most cheaply and quickly, and would certainly have more impact on our patrons than any and all the changes promoted with RDA.
But it is difficult to see how any of this will play out.