Posting to Autocat
On 07/07/2011 15:35, J. McRee Elrod wrote:
I think Hellman brings up a point that is highly important where he says: “We don’t need surrogates” …
This assumes that (1) all library resources are available in electronic form, or (2) if not, the title accurately reflects the content. “Puritan in Babylon” says nothing about Puritans or Babylon.
Not all library resources are textual these days. A surrogate is certainly needed for a work of art, a motion picture, or an electronic device.
I don’t know if Hellman would disagree with this. He apparently does assume everything digital, which I think is a fair assumption, in the sense that “if it’s not digital, it doesn’t exist”. The same thing happened with printed documents, where if something was not printed and remained only in manuscript, it was ignored by society. Something similar seems to be happening today but we are in a time of transition. (It’s too bad since I am a bookman!)
As I understand Hellman’s presentation, he is arguing that there may be a place for metadata, but not as a “surrogate” for the item–rather the metadata should serve to improve the Search Engine Optimization. This next point comes from me and I don’t know if he would agree: this metadata can be added in various ways, as embedded metadata, or now there is microdata, although these “metadata-type improvements” could probably exist separately. Still the user would probably never see the “surrogate” since it would be used only by the search engine to optimize the result for the searcher in various ways.
I am not saying I agree with this, but I can certainly understand how non-experts, who have been frustrated by traditional IMLSs, and comparing them to what they can do with a Google search or some other modern electronic database, would have few qualms concluding that our ILMSs don’t work.
Brian is absolutely right what he says about subjects, and I will add, searching for the other “concepts” as well: authors, titles, places, corporate bodies, and so on. This is a nightmare on Google. For instance, there happens to be a James Weinheimer in NYC, who apparently works as a nightclub singer. I’ve listened to some of his songs and he must be my evil twin. Sorry James! When I sing, I sound like an old toad croaking. You don’t sing any better than I do, but at least I don’t inflict myself on anybody! Anyway, I state here and now that he and I are NOT the same person!
The problem is, to get into this power of navigating “concepts” in the catalog, especially to use the power of the subjects to their fullest, you have to use it like a card catalog and that has completely fallen apart today. The cross-reference structure, so vitally important, doesn’t even work most of the time with keyword searches. So, people wind up comparing our searching tool with the Google-type searching tools and draw the logical conclusions.
These are the areas where I think substantive improvements should be made to improving how our library catalogs work, not with RDA and FRBR. Unfortunately, those initiatives although well-intentioned, are pointing us into detours where there will be no users in the future. They are going in areas such as SEO and other areas. I think we need to work with those kinds of developments… somehow.