Thursday, August 25, 2011

Re: Justification of added entries

Posting to RDA-L

On 25/08/2011 00:26,  wrote:
<snip>
Quoting Casey A Mullin:
Regarding the "extra time" argument, I will just say this succinctly. At Stanford, we did not use relator codes/terms under AACR2. We do under RDA (though, as previously stated, we have the option to leave them out if choosing one leads to agonizing). After our initial training period, in which the "burden" to add relator terms was only one among the suite of new/different practices, my productivity has
returned to previous levels. Several of my colleagues have reported the same.
...
Put yet another way: it's not a question of taking extra time, it's a question of encoding the fruits of our intellectual work in way that is friendly to humans AND machines, and thereby making better use of the precious time we have.
And IMO the time, even if significant, is worthwhile. In music, the roles of vocalist, instrumental performer, conductor, composer and editor are all significant, and one person may well occupy several of those roles in a lifetime. In textual works, the roles of author, editor, translator are likewise significant.
...
It's all very well to say that catalogues are too complicated; but that's because of the nature of the resources, reflected in the data. We need to begin to insist on plain, straightforward features to help users get the best out of our intellectual effort. Relationships need to be easier to follow; simply leaving them out is no benefit.
</snip>
But my point is: adding relators goes far beyond the creation of original records. We are in a shared environment, and ideally, we should be able to share more widely. I shall accept that adding relators may not add much additional time to original record creation (although it has to in the aggregate: look at how we type only "Includes bibliographical references" instead of more indepth information to save cataloger time); I also accept that adding the relators when creating a record may be worthwhile. But that is far from the end of the affair. We are in a shared environment: what is someone supposed to do when they get copy? Are they supposed to add the relators? That will definitely take significantly more time, and who will be authorized and trained to edit those records? In the future, these records will hopefully come from many more sources than just libraries, with many more, perhaps very difficult, decisions to make.

In addition, we have catalogs without relator information now, so someone will click on e.g. Clint Eastwood as director and only get one or two hits because the majority of the records will have been made earlier with no relators. So, we run into exactly the same problem as we do with typing abbreviations in full: it will make absolutely no difference *to the users* of our catalogs because after any search, they will *always* be seeing older records with the abbreviations or no relator codes, so we cannot proclaim that this is a solution.

I agree that the idea of full abbreviations and relators would be mostly a positive thing for our users, but we must always see matters from *their* viewpoint. Changing what we do from one day to the next will certainly change things for *us*, but it won't change things for the *users*. This fact absolutely must be accepted and cannot be ignored. If we could snap our fingers and magically update our old records, and to ensure that copy received would not demand too much updating, that might be one thing, but we know that will not happen, and the result will be more inconsistency in the catalog which, from the user's point of view, the catalog will become, probably, weirder than ever. There will be bizarre links for, e.g. Clint Eastwood as director that they *know* don't work correctly, and can demonstrate it to you simply by going to IMDB where it works. How will we explain away that kind of problem, when every searcher can point to similar incoherence with any search result?

What is the real solution to this? In my opinion, these are the arguments of old solutions and must be avoided as much as possible. We are in another environment that may be able to solve the problems for our *users* instead of continuing to pretend that if we simply adopt a new rule, the problem is solved. Those old solutions have led to a lot of anger toward cataloging in the past because non-catalogers conclude that cataloging is focused only on itself. Why? It ignores the user and this fact can be demonstrated easily, as here.

How can we solve the matters of relators for our users? *Not* by proclaiming, "From this date onward, we shall add relator information to records we create originally" since our users obviously will see much more than that. Still, cooperation with other databases that already have that information, e.g. IMDB, may be possible. Why redo the work that someone else has already done?

I've already talked about abbreviations in earlier posts on some lists, somewhere.

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