Monday, July 25, 2011

Re: Progress on tasks?

 Posting to RDA-L
On 25/07/2011 13:26, Bernhard Eversberg wrote:
On the other hand, fee-based, commercial services are not to be excluded and may provide all sorts of added value, obtainable only by subscription or purchase, pricing entirely left to their discretion. They would, however, receive the same level and scope of access to the text as everybody else: No monopolized access to the textbase. Now that RDA has to be rewritten anyway, the chance is within the scope of possibilities.

I am aware that this excludes the familiar ways of commercial funding of code development and the subsequent monopolized, copyrighted access to the text. This is a thing of the past, definitely, budget crunch or not, and any scheme still based on it can no longer succeed. At least not in a good enough way to result in mentionable, communicable improvements. And not in a big enough way to overcome the AACR2+MARC21 octopus. Just look at the test data if you don't believe this.

This is a fundamental point that needs to be emphasized. Just because something is made "open" does not mean that people still don't need a lot of help that they will be willing to pay for. For instance, if someone needs information on MARC format, it is not enough just to hand them the manual (as I have seen before). If people are going to use MARC format they need help with it. The "added value" is the expert(s) who can actually help the person who needs the information. This holds for all the cataloging rules and procedures that are incomprehensible for those who are untrained.

Someone may want to implement the "free" catalog Koha, but they find that they are paying for someone else to install and host it, plus do the basic maintenance. There are many places around the world that host Koha--and making money at it--as well as hosting many other open source programs. It still costs, but normally it costs a whole lot less than a proprietary version. Plus, you are free to make your own changes as you need.

If all of the cataloging rules were made open, other communities could actually think about using them or adapting them. But every one would all need help. That sounds like an "unserved market" and this market could be huge. I think that the metadata rules and procedures from the library community are the greatest in the world and I can imagine that a lot of other metadata communities would want to utilize them in many ways, but currently those library cataloging rules are a closed system. A lot of people could make a lot of money from providing all kinds of services: training, providing translations to and from various languages (as each community adds their own versions and interpretations), and many other services as well. ALA/OCLC could coordinate a lot of this, supply server space (perhaps for a reasonable price), provide varying levels of training leading to *certification* and so on. The sky is the limit.

But, it really means heading off into new directions.

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