Posting to RDA-L
On Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 12:42 AM, Kevin M Randall wrote:
By “one catalog”, are you referring to that little thing I keep bringing up, the Ex Libris Voyager system? That is one product, but many thousands of “catalogs” around the world. (Including a catalog at this quaint place you may have heard of, the Library of Congress.)
Why the records are stored (and used) in Voyager in that format, I don’t know for sure. But I can only assume it is because that happens to be the most efficient way of using system resources. Yes, there are many other tables to support indexing, but the full bib record exists ONLY in the MARC 21 ISO2709 format (albeit placed within a field of an Oracle table, and sometimes broken up into multiple rows of the table, depending on length of the ISO2709 string). When exporting, the records are not “recompiled” but are rather copied directly from the ISO2709 strings.
Actually, I would be rather surprised if it turns out that Voyager is alone among the major players.
I have no special love or hatred for the ISO2709 version of the record. I honestly couldn’t care less. We could retain it for our communications format IF we could show that it is as flexible as XML and also, widely utilized by the different software developers out there. I don’t see that happening with ISO2709. Plus, how a specific database/catalog wants to store its information internally is a matter of practically no concern to catalogers but is a concern to the database designers. Catalogers should care that the system stores and retrieves everything reliably.
While I also agree that numbers and other language-neutral tags have their advantages, I really don’t think it’s necessary to have them in a new metadata carrier. If things are done right this time around, catalogers will NOT, NOT, NOT be working with records in the “native” language of the metadata carrier. Just as there is absolutely no excuse for requiring catalogers in this day and age to have to work with MARC tags, indicators, and subfield codes, there should be absolutely no excuse for requiring them to work with constructs such as (to quote an example from Diane Hillmann’s “Getting Real with RDA” presentation):
That is how it might look behind the scenes, but the cataloger should NEVER have to see this unless it’s explicitly asked for! But if that’s what catalogers end up being given to work with, then I will really be convinced that systems vendors really do have the utmost contempt for catalogers…
I don’t know if I agree with this. With codes and numbers, everybody knows exactly what it all means. With words, it gets messy. For instance, I discovered that in ITunes U people can add metadata. http://tinyurl.com/5v3gz5p Well, if you look at it, you find a table of suggested uses for the fields and one is highly interesting:
“Name: Track title, for example, Easter Island and Darwin or Digital Storytelling”
Name???!!! And then it immediately says “Track title”. And if this makes little sense to us, imagine someone with very little English trying to figure it out! Standards demand rigor and the reality is, much of it winds up being communicated in, what seems to an untrained person, to be gibberish since the purpose is to communicate very precisely.
So, while I don’t care about the coding, be it in words or numbers or musical notes–it’s just computer codes, after all and literally the same to the computer!–I do care very much about how people interpret those codes. For someone who sees 245$a, they will be forced to look it up and find “Title proper” which they will not understand, and then they will have to look up what a title proper is, on the way learning about alternative titles, uniform titles and all kinds of other titles that the non-librarian does not know about. After ITunes U, how will people interpret “Name”?
Yet as I said, I fought the good fight to try to get people to retain the numbered fields and subfields, but gave up. The method of communication will be in “words”. One of my concerns with words is a vision I have had that each language group will eventually want to free themselves from the English language and very logically demand the equality of their own languages. Then, all these versions will be made, and the final situation will be just as bad or worse than all the versions of MARC….
Oh well, I lost that one.