Posting to Autocat
On 07/07/2011 19:32, J. McRee Elrod wrote:
James Weinheimer said:
The same thing happened with printed documents, where if something was not printed and>remained only in manuscript, it was ignored by society.
There was a lot of writing and reading before movable type printing was developed in Korea and Europe, as well as libraries with catalogues.
We still pour over manuscripts. Remember the Dead Sea Scrolls?
All of the recorded intellectual and artistic expression of humankind in the province of libraries.
Yes, there are many documents in manuscript–but they get genuinely acknowledged and used by society only after their contents can be communicated to others, and this always meant: being converted into another format. Before printing, copying manuscripts was expensive and time consuming, and could be done on a highly limited basis. It was also incredibly prone to error. It turned out that printing of various types was the only real way of making information generally available until computers and the web appeared.
Before a new and more useful format appears on the scene, people have no choice except to use the old format or go without. This happened when people had to use manuscripts locally–the vast majority had no access to those materials. But when the new, “improved” format arrives, those documents that never get converted into the new format are left behind. They practically stop being used, or are used by even fewer people than before. Once these same materials have been reformatted, they can be reproduced, communicated and used over and over again. This happened with printing and today we see the same thing happening with, e.g. JSTOR–now that so many older journals are available electronically, they are being used much more than when their contents were only in paper and people had to dig it all out by hand.
Suzanne Graham said:
I understood his point here to be that we don’t just need to describe the item as it is (create a surrogate), but we need to further enhance …
Yes. That’s why we add 505s and 520s to MARC records, particularly items which can not be picked up and examined with one’s bifocals. Clients tell us use of e-books rises sharply when 505s and 520s are supplied. We’ve had less positive feed back for 653 or 695 keywords.
This still assumes that people will use the surrogate (or catalog) record. Hellman’s argument (as I understand it) is that people will not use the surrogate *when given the choice* and full-text gives them that choice. To this I must agree. For example, I wonder how many people even know about the complete metadata record in Google Books? When people make a search and click into something they immediately find themselves
in the midst of full text, e.g. the search for “iraq war media” http://www.google.com/search?q=iraq+war+media&hl=en&safe=off&prmdo=1&tbs=cdr:1,cd_min:2000,cd_max:2099,bkv:f,bkt:b&tbm=bks&source=lnt,
click on “The media and the Rwanda genocide” and you go directly into the text, http://books.google.com/books?id=nJT54Oe2D08C&pg=PA436&dq=iraq+war+media&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDcQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=iraq%20war%20media&f=false.
But there is another page “About this book” http://books.google.com/books?id=nJT54Oe2D08C&dq=iraq+war+media&source=gbs_navlinks_s which has lots of metadata, far more than catalogers could ever supply. How many people even know about these pages? (I discuss this in much more detail in my chapter in “Conversations with catalogers” now in the E-LIS archive http://hdl.handle.net/10760/15838. I am just shameless in these things!)
Even if people know about these metadata records, how many would look at them? The “library metadata” record, which is actually a very strange thing, comes at the very bottom of the page. I personally think that people would find the “references” the most useful, but the word cloud is a semi-amazing creation.
It seems that Hellman believes that as full-text improves and gets richer (and hopefully, there will be more and more full-text available) this is the functionality that people will come to expect, not to find themselves looking at the metadata page. It does not mean that metadata won’t exist, people will just not interoperate with it like they do today.
I don’t know what I think. He may very well be right. Of course, the purpose of traditional library metadata changes in such a system and FRBR and RDA become practically irrelevant.