Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Re: Justification of added entries

Posting to RDA-L
On 23/08/2011 17:25, Kevin M Randall wrote:
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James Weinheimer wrote:
When discussing practical issues, it's not out of place to mention that latest research reveals that user knowledge and abilities are very low. This article was just announced "What Students Don't Know" (referred to on another list, but there have been other similar research projects with very similar results), catalogs are already overly complex, and therefore, the display of the $e will be *only within the individual record*, and the records do that now more accurately with the 245$c.
James, I'm having a hard time following this argument. I can't figure out how the "therefore" connects connects the phrases before and after it. I don't see anything in the article cited that has anything to do with the matter of including relator terms in subfield $e--not the mention the idea that the relator terms will be displayed only in the individual records (where did that last argument come from?).
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Sorry for this poor writing. Essentially what I was trying to say is that research has shown that people find our catalogs very complex already (which indeed, they are) and people have little comprehension of what they are looking at. Increasing the complexity of the displays will only make it more complicated for the searchers.
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Have you ever used IMDb (Internet Movie Database), which is often mentioned in discussions on this list? I would be *extremely* surprised (shocked, even) if I were to find that the relator terms were not used in that resource. For instance, search for the name "Clint Eastwood" and under "Filmography" you get a list of his credits, arranged in categories: Actor | Director | Producer | Soundtrack | Composer | Miscellaneous Crew | Camera and Electrical Department | Writer | Thanks | Self | Archive Footage. This is exactly the kind of function that relator terms make possible.

I find it rather curious that you complain about people not using catalogs because they are not providing the kind of functionality that other internet resources provide, yet if we argue for doing something to include that functionality it's something that people don't want or need.
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I understand how relator terms can function, and I had already mentioned that people in graphic arts say that this is important to them. My statement is: somebody must show that a substantial majority of people want and need these capabilities so badly instead of just taking it all for granted. We only have so many catalogers with only so much time, and numbers are not going to increase any time soon. We'll probably be lucky to keep numbers relatively stable. Any additional work we undertake will necessarily be at the expense of something else, therefore, there must be some kind of prioritization, otherwise we risk overreaching ourselves and inevitable collapse. It is obvious that even maintaining the current levels of cataloging standards has been too much for many libraries, so it only makes sense to question what would happen in reality if we take on additional responsibilities. If we do not consider practical issues everything remains safely locked away in the fairy land of theory and conjecture, while real people--both patrons and librarians--will have to suffer the consequences in the real world.

Perhaps in some areas, this information is more important, perhaps in films, but it still remains to be shown that it is so vital that we must devote the additional resources to adding that information at the obvious expense of productivity. Be that as it may, I cannot imagine that very many people would need to search texts by editors vs. authors.

In the case of the IMDB, if it is determined that people need relators so desperately, we can look at it in another, more modern, way: do we really have to redo all of their work, or would it make more sense to cooperate by inter-operating with their database in some way?

As I keep trying to point out: we have what we have. Catalogers stopped adding relator codes and maybe they shouldn't have but we don't have a time machine to travel back and convince them otherwise. Too bad in lots of ways, but that's the breaks. The first, very practical, task should be to make what we have *now* more useful to people. Then, once we have helped people substantially, to figure out what is missing or what needs to be changed. There is plenty of time to figure out eventual changes, but little time to demonstrate how we can really make a difference in people's lives.

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