Re: Cataloging Matters Podcast #12

Posting to NGC4LIB

On 10/08/2011 16:25, Brenndorfer, Thomas wrote:

As Crocodile Dundee, armed with his gear in the film of the same name, once said when being mugged in New York City: “A knife? That’s not a knife. Now, this is a knife!” No, those examples from WorldCat barely scratch the surface. Huckleberry Finn in LibraryThing comes a little closer to what FRBR can lead to: The work-to-work relationships which are absent in WorldCat are present here: Work – Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: “is contained in” “has the adaptation” “is abridged in” “inspired” “has as a study” “has as a commentary on the text” “has as a student’s study guide”

So, you are suggesting that we should aim for full-scale FRBR relationships? Without any research that this is what our patrons need? Of course, these relationships cannot happen in reality since in order not to avoid the unfortunate effect that the millions of records we now have would be left out and more difficult to find, there would have to be major work done to those records, probably on a one-by-one basis, to decide that this one “is contained in” or “abridged in” or whatever. Unless there would be flotillas of catalogers hired to update these older records, the results of adding those relationships will forever be unpredictable. Plus, a business case must be demonstrated not only that the public actually needs to be able to do this, it also needs to be demonstrated that they need those tasks at the expense of other possibilities: e.g. cataloging more items. All this at a time of decreasing staff. Of course, it could be crowdsourced, but that is difficult to rely upon. A compelling business case has always been lacking with FRBR/RDA, as the latest report highlighted.

If there were convincing evidence that the public genuinely needs these relationships and that the results we see in Worldcat are truly not adequate (and Worldcat can’t be improved enough such as adding word clouds to the results), I would be the first to agree because then, we would *know* that we are genuinely providing a service where the public has spoken very loudly that it wants and needs. However, I seriously doubt that if given a choice the public would want us to add relationships such as “abridged in” “has a study” “inspired” etc. as no. 1, even at a major cost to productivity–but I could be wrong! (By the way, some of those work-to-work relationships in the LibraryThing example seem a little strange. A lot of them look like variant
expressions to me)

I would also suggest reading up on what a “strawman” fallacy is:

Well, I thought they both remained very polite and respectful toward one another. For example, the patron did not fly off the handle when looking at all of this meaningless, incomprehensible gobbledygook and asked some very pointed questions politely. The librarian was not patronizing and did not wind up proclaiming that the catalog actually does give the information the patron needed–that is, if she only worked harder and knew more about what she really wanted; then suggest that she sign up for a multi-hour tutorial that he or one of his colleagues was teaching on how to search the catalog correctly. I have witnessed both of these types of encounters and the reactions on each side have not been positive.

The “library catalog” gave the only answers it could.