Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Re: Objection to author's birth year

Posting to Autocat

On 26/09/2011 22:58, Prejsnar, Mark wrote:
<snip>
This disambiguation approach still relies to some significant extent on dates, however (which leaves the original concern unresolved). Would you want to try to be certain you were attributing a title to the *right* John Johnson if only the 2 or 3 word description of vocation were available?
</snip>

Why does it have to be *only* the 2 or 3 word description? There are almost untold possibilities available today.

I didn't mean to imply that dates weren't useful, but wanted to compare using only the dates vs. using additional information. Using only the dates made perfect sense for a long, long time but those days are gone now. At some point, as I keep pointing out, we must begin to look seriously at the catalog record, the search results, and all of the catalog's functions through the eyes of our patrons, and not just through our own eyes. While we understand how authority control works and the kind of information in each of the various records, most patrons couldn't care less about any of it. They would rather forego any interaction with the catalog at all and go straight to examining the resources. Reference librarians experience this every day when they are asked, "Where are your books on business (or art, or law, or whatever)?"

In addition, the public has far more experience of tools such as Wikipedia, Google Scholar, Youtube, ITunes, and all kinds of more specialized sites that are built on the premise of being "easy to use", which is certainly not the premise of the library catalog. It is only natural that people compare the tools they see and come to some conclusions.

At the same time, I think it's obvious that what people *believe they want* is not what they *really do want*, e.g. people really do want to search for the *concept* Dostoyevsky, but we understand that the reality of such a search is far more complex than a general layperson will think it is. All this is complex for a huge variety of reasons that librarians, and especially catalogers, will readily understand. 

People want many of the controls that a catalog provides. Still, it is vital that we look at records and search results through the eyes of people who are not expert in the catalog and have absolutely no desire, if not outright antipathy, to become experts. This is why I am so much against both RDA and FRBR, since they both continue the ancient mindset.

No comments:

Post a Comment