Monday, September 5, 2011

Re: Others' opinions of librarians (was: Fw: Re: [textualcriticism] Lorenzo Valla, Distigmai, and Trikles)

Posting to Autocat

On 05/09/2011 02:47, Michael Borries wrote:
A short portion from another list with a non-librarian's view of the need for librarians (in this case, catalogers).

And perhaps this would be a good place to state that in forwarding Peter Daniel's post (I think it was his), it was not my intention to "bash" any particular library, but both that post and this are meant to show that others outside the library are concerned about what we do. I think if we "dumb down" too much, we may loose support in some academic circles.
The reason for the error is simple (which again shows that GB needs to slow down a bit and cooperate with good librarians): three books are bound together in one volume; the data in GB belong to the third entry (BH MSS 41-3), but what you see is the first (BH MSS 41-1)
This reminds me, once again, of the Language Log post, "Metadata Train Wreck" and the associated discussion in various places. Here is a newer post from Scholarly Kitchen "The Terrible Price of Free: On E-reading Jane Austen via Google's Ebooks":  ttp://

The real complaint in both of these postings however, concerns accuracy in its various guises in cataloging records or OCR, rather than some of the "higher matters" of Web2.0 and 3.0. The post you mention seems to be similar. While I completely agree that these matters are highly important, from the cataloging point of view, matters of accuracy are considered rather elementary. In the Language Log discussion, he does mention "classification" e.g. how some editions of  "Jane Eyre" are classified under "Architecture" or "Antiques & Collectibles", but in neither article is there a discussion of difficult issues of name authority control or uniform titles, let alone more complicated subject analysis.

Still, the need for simple accuracy is apparently becoming important to the average reader and therefore, the inventory aspects of a library catalog seem to be consider more important than previously. This is certainly a positive development.

My concern however, is that these are the easiest sorts of problems to fix and I will venture, rarely need the talents of a professional cataloger. Are searchers equally concerned about lack of personal name authority controls, or of corporate names, or subjects? I would hope so, but I fear the very idea is becoming lost among people--that is, if they ever had it to begin with.

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