Thursday, December 8, 2011

Re: Editing record for additional copies of popular fiction titles

Posting to Autocat

On 08/12/2011 20:21, Marian Veld wrote:
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On Mon, Dec 5, 2011 at 3:51 PM, Audrey Driscoll wrote:
Isn't this what FRBR was intended to address? :-)

We "lump" fiction editions, similarly to what has already been described. Because I began my cataloguing career in an academic library, this practice still bothers me, even though I understand the reasons for it. I especially dislike the fact that the bibliographic record describes a specific edition, even though only some of the items attached to it belong to that edition. It would be better if the record was more generic, but we don't go back and rework it when adding other eds.

We also have a practice for "children's classics" which is similar, except that 700s are added for all the different illustrators.
I was waiting for someone to bring this up. All the hoopla of RDA not being based on what patrons actually want completely misses this point. While RDA might not be exactly what patrons want, for public library patrons at least, it's a step in the right direction.
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The problem with this, as I see it, stems from the fact that the library catalog is supposed to serve (at least) two equally important functions: 1) to give the public some basic access into the collection, and 2) a complete inventory tool for the library managers. An additional point today is that catalog records can be shared much more easily than ever before, and by all kinds of people in all kinds of ways. For instance, one major use of catalog records today is to provide automatic bibliographic references for reference management software (all available for free, so long as you have a computer). Therefore, a student now tends to rely on a catalog record for bibliographic references, so poor catalog records could impact them very seriously. Telling people that they should be careful with automatic bibliographic references can (and has with me) found the retort that the records in the catalog should be better.

It is vital to remember that today's systems are very powerful and at least as found in library catalogs, a tiny percentage of the potential of these powerful systems is used. For instance, the public view of the catalog records can be radically different from the view of librarians. While the catalog records can be complete and accurate--for a cataloger--there is a lot of information that members of the public may not need or want. All kinds of views can be generated today, including FRBR displays and other merged types of displays, but I am sure, that there are lots of other displays would be far more innovative and interesting. Consequently, everybody *can* be happy today.

In the long run, as library catalogs will have to deal with full-text automatic indexing, which we can all assume will get better and better while becoming cheaper and cheaper, it seems to me that catalogers will have one advantage they can definitely point to: while our records will probably never be "more, cheaper, or faster," than automatic full-text,and I even think an insistence that our records are "better" will fall on deaf ears, the one point that we will have in our favor will be our *consistency*, the *reliability* of our records that follow shared standards, and that our records can be retrieved equally well from one day or one week or one year to the next. I don't think I am the only person in the world who gets driven crazy by the lack of indexing/cataloging consistency in tools such as Google, where "tweaking" occurs constantly. I often have extreme difficulty finding a site I had seen the day before, and sometimes a week later, I don't even try if it's not all that important.

This would be just one single step toward making the library catalog more useful to the public, but it would be an important one. Library cataloging provides consistent and reliable access. It is something that people can rely upon, and if the public comes to understand this, perhaps it may come to be appreciated much more than it is at present.

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