Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Re: What's at Stake in the Georgia State University Copyright Case

Posting to NGC4LIB

On 30/05/2011 23:56, B.G. Sloan wrote:
> From the Chronicle of Higher Education:
> "A closely watched trial in federal court in Atlanta, Cambridge University Press et al. v. Patton et al., is pitting faculty, libraries, and publishers against one another in a case that could clarify the nature of copyright and define the meaning of fair use in the digital age...The plaintiffs are asking for an injunction to stop university personnel from making material available on e-reserve without paying licensing fees. A decision is expected in several weeks. The Chronicle asked experts in scholarly communications what the case may mean for the future."
> Full text at: http://bit.ly/igSYAj
I can only hope that this will be the catalyst to bring open access into full acceptance, as pointed out by Mr. Smith of Duke. If the publishers win the case, they will probably lose the war, which would be just as
well. More and more academics appear to be asking: why pay licensing fees to publishers who received the materials for free from the academics who created them, and who were practically forced to give up  all their rights to their own creations as well? Why should only one side pay and not the other? The centuries-old business models just don't hold true anymore. With the internet and digital documents, it makes much less sense for a publisher to risk the expense of paying for the printing and distribution of physical books around the world, when a large percentage of them will never be sold and will be returned.

Scholarly journals have almost all become digital because it only makes sense; sooner or later it will be so with monographs as well. I personally think that the main reason it hasn't happened yet with monographs is just habit and inertia.

These changes are not restricted to publishers, but other fields are having to adapt as well: newspapers, films, radio, and of course, libraries. I am sure that each of these agencies has an important role to play in the new environment, but undoubtedly, those roles will be quite different from what they have been.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Re: Future of Academic Libraries: Taiga Forum 2011 Provocative Statements

Posting to NGC4LIB

On 27/05/2011 18:25, B.G. Sloan wrote:
"On 11/1/2010, Taiga Forum 6 met in Palo Alto to begin developing a new set of provocative statements regarding some future challenges to academic libraries. Another group discussed the draft statements at ALA Midwinter in San Diego in January, 2011. The Taiga Forum Steering Committee has taken that input and created this third round of Taiga Forum Provocative Statements. As before, the statements are intended to provoke conversation rather than attempt to predict the future."

See: http://bit.ly/l1URO1

While the Taiga Forum is always diverting, one of the problems I have with the statements is that they are almost always negative for the future of the library. One of them, e.g.
"5. no more collection building
Within five years, information needs will be met through on-demand purchasing. Big deals will have been eliminated and collection building will only be meaningful for a select few designated libraries."

could be worded as
"Within five years, the definition of the "collection" will have changed for libraries, to include the totality of the information universe. New methods of dealing with this inclusive environment are being devised, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive from the public, while librarians themselves feel as if they have regained a bit of control and have garnered new ares of respect within society."

Re: Open data's role in transforming our bibliographic framework

Posting to Autocat

On 27/05/2011 20:43, Mary Mastraccio wrote:
Kevin M. Randall wrote:
[re.] the AUR catalog.

That's great, it shows the concept definitely can work. Although, in this implementation, it's translating data in the entire record, including things that really shouldn't be translated. Transcribed data and headings (most everything but fields such as 300, 310, 321, 362, 5XX) should remain as originally input.
I disagree. The translation is only in the display so anyone that needs to know can revert to the original transcription but for most users the current implementation of translating the entire record is acceptable if not desirable. It is true that it is not necessary to translate the entire page--using Google "Translate this page" often leaves some data on the page un-translated--but I would think most users would prefer James Weinheimer's current implementation and it doesn't really break cataloging rules because the record doesn't change only the display.
The AUR example is a demonstration of trying to provide additional help using tools that have not been available before. If you know what you are doing and (more important) you have the authorization, which almost requires open source catalogs, it only takes a few minutes to implement. The hard part is figuring out how and where to place it on the record. I cannot emphasize too much that this tool is *free*--something that should be of immense importance today. And while it may not be "perfect", it is certainly a help to many out there, and I will suggest, may even be a step in the "solution" of transliteration.

This also shows a problem I find with the RDA initiative which is based on earlier times. Our profession must assume that catalogers will lose the almost 100% control they had over their records in the past. I think it is our task to adapt to the new environment using every possible advantage we can find, and we should start by adapting automated tools to achieve their utmost possible. Revising manual cataloging rules should come later, only as a result of discovering that the automated tools can't do what we need.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Eli Pariser on "The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You”

Posting to Autocat

Librarians will probably be very interested in this book talk with Eli Pariser, (former head of MoveOn.org) about modern search algorithms, how they are built to "give you what you want" but in another sense, hide just as much. As a result, different people searching exactly the same words will get different results, and there are consequences to it. His experiences with Google and Facebook are particularly pertinent.


Re: Bill Clinton: Create Internet agency

Posting to NGC4LIB

On 27/05/2011 08:18, Bernhard Eversberg wrote:
> Am 26.05.2011 17:41, schrieb Laval Hunsucker:
>> The point is that libraries know how people work.
> 'It's very important that we find a way to link library resources to the whole world of information resources not focusing exclusively on bibliographic information,' Deanna Marcum in a statement about the "Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative"
> http://www.loc.gov/marc/transition/news/framework-051311.html
This statement of Laval's really surprised me. I don't know if libraries know how people work. And I completely agree with Deanna Marcum.

I view libraries in a much more mechanistic fashion--literally. To me, a library is a machine, needing fuel, lubricating oil, has an exhaust, mechanics to replace parts and keep everything running smoothly, while  people of all sorts come to use the library machine for whatever purposes they have. So, perhaps a decent analogy is to think of a library like a train station, where there are all kinds of people hurrying to and fro, people who work there as baggage handlers, ticket takers, train mechanics, engineers, etc. and then there are the passengers. Some passengers have more experience than others and can get through the chaos of the train station more quickly than others with less experience. Each train station is a little different and even highly experienced travellers must acquaint themselves with a new station and may need help. Yet, before automobiles and airplanes, if somebody wanted to get from one place to another relatively quickly, there were precious few choices except to use the trains, and if you wanted to use the trains, you had to adapt yourself to the entire railroad system. This was the situation for a long time.

Then came automobiles, and then airplanes and airports, and there are lots of conveniences of these choices over trains, often including much cheaper prices. Trains had to completely rethink their purpose and some did not do a very good job at it. I think that libraries are in the same situation as the train stations back when airplanes and automobiles were becoming popular. Still, people have to adapt themselves to the automobile system by learning to drive and getting licenses, car insurance, learning how to do basic maintenance on the car, and so on, or learn the airplane system with all of their rules for what can and cannot be taken on board, what documents you need, etc.

What is important to keep in mind, and this relates to Laval's "libraries know how people work" is that patrons coming to the library are focused on getting the information they want, *not* on the means of  getting it. They want the means to be easy, cheap and with very little stress. This is like autos, trains and airplanes, which are all *means to an end* (arriving at my destination) and are not the end in itself.

Once we accept these sorts of what I think are facts, facing the future may become easier. I really like train stations, at least some of them. Some love cars or airplanes. But most just want to get where they are going safely, quickly and easily. Some searchers really like libraries but the primary focus in libraries should not be on the means available to the patrons, but on their ends. When we can provide the ends that  they want, the means we should provide will become clearer.

Re: RDA and ISBD

Posting to Autocat

On 26/05/2011 19:55, Marian Veld wrote:
I just finished a webinar on RDA. In it, we were told that RDA follows ISBD, but not necessarily for order of elements or punctuation. This sounded like nonsense to me. Take away the order and punctuation from ISBD and what do you have left? Nothing, I would think. So maybe someone can help me with this. What am I missing? In what sense does RDA follow ISBD?
Well, it depends on what you mean by "follow". (This reminds me of Bill Clinton's explanation about why his statement about Monica Lewinsky "there's nothing going on between us " was not a lie, he mentioned the meaning of "is". See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4XT-l-_3y0)


If we say that RDA follows ISBD, then in certain areas, it definitely does not, e.g. the use of [et al.] See ISBD Rule http://www.ifla.org/files/cataloguing/isbd/isbd-cons_2007-en.pdf#page=85 where the ISBD rule is very clear that you use "et al." or its equivalent in another *script*, e.g. cyrillic.

Still, I will go so far as to say that if we are going to say that AACR2 followed ISBD, and there are so few substantive changes between it and RDA, that we could conclude that it follows ISBD "almost" as well as AACR2.

Re: Article recommendation: OPACs, Google, and cataloging theory

Posting to NGC4LIB

On 26/05/2011 02:48, Steve Casburn wrote:
> For an intelligent comparison of the effectiveness of OPACs with that of Google, I recommend this article (available in full text through EBSCO's > Academic Search Premier as Accession Number 17663772):

Campbell, D. Grant and Karl V. Fast. "Panizzi, Lubetzky, and Google: How the Modern Web Environment is Reinventing the Theory of Cataloguing." _The Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science_ (Sep 2004), vol. 28, no. 3, pgs. 25-38. [at http://kentstate.academia.edu/karlfast/Papers/346311/Panizzi_Lubetzky_and_Google_How_the_Modern_Web_Environment_is_Reinventing_the_Theory_of_Cataloguing]

The authors observed 16 college students search for information using both an OPAC and Google, and interviewed each student in depth immediately afterwards. Based on those observations and interviews, they posed two questions: "Does the OPAC do justice to cataloguing theory and practice?" and "Does cataloguing theory have relevance to search engine design?" Their answers to those questions are clearly written and thought-provoking.
Thanks for pointing out this article. I hadn't known about it. Their results match my own experience with patrons and how they use (or don't use) the catalog. They don't use it very well; they know it; and in general, it makes them feel stupid and inferior. Yet, none of that should be surprising since people have always had problems with the catalog--that's why reference librarians exist. One difference that I have seen is that the arrangement of the catalog records, which make it a useful tool, were probably much easier to divine when everything was still physical. The printed book catalog was much clearer to use than card catalogs, but even then the arrangement of a physical card catalog was pretty understandable. The good point--or bad point depending on how you look at it--was that anybody who searched a card or book catalog was forced to browse it in an alphabetical way, and to browse it according to heading. So, if you saw, e.g. Fascism--Albania and Fascism--Bulgaria, you could figure out that there would probably be a Fascism--Italy or Fascism--United States. Therefore, when everything was physical the arrangement was at least somewhat understandable for a non-expert.

Today, the overwhelmingly used search is keyword. I use keyword too. People have grown more accustomed to Google-type search results than anything we do. And the problem (among others) is that with results of a keyword search, any arrangement based on alphabetical browsing is much more difficult to see and to understand. For instance, cross-references are normally not seen in keyword searches.

In the article, there is an illustration on p. 31 (I stubbornly choose to continue to use the obsolete abbreviation "p."), it is a keyword search, and I am sure a searcher cannot understand what is going on with the results, much less be able to see and figure out the rules and arrangements in underneath. It makes as much sense for a user to understand the cataloging rules and catalog arrangement from the results of a keyword search as it would for them to understand it from a bunch of cards taken out of the catalog.

Now that I can actually do a little research (incredible to have so many wonderful resources on line for free!) I have been working on the idea that Panizzi's cataloging theories were based much more on the needs of his library and much less on his users. One of his main aims was to get books to users as quickly as possible (no open shelves at the British Museum); five minutes is mentioned over and over; and this would have meant that the "back rooms" had to be as efficient as possible. This obviously has a lot of consequences. Also, people did not like a lot of what he demanded from them, but of course, he won.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Re: Open data's role in transforming our bibliographic framework

Posting to Autocat

On 25/05/2011 18:59, MULLEN Allen wrote, quoting Karen Coyle:
> -Use data, not text. Wherever possible, the stuff of bibliographic description should be computable data, not human-interpretable text. Any part of your metadata that cannot be used in machine algorithms is of limited utility in user services.
> -Give your things identifiers, not language tags. Identification allows you to share meaning without language barriers. Anything that has been identified can be displayed in language terms to users in any language of your (or the user's) choice.
> -Adopt mainstream metadata standards. This is not only for the data formats but also in terms of the data itself. If other metadata creators are using a particular standard language list or geographic names, use those same terms. If there are metadata elements for common things like colors or sizes or places or [whatever], use those. Work with international communities to extend metadata if necessary, but do not create library-specific versions.
I agree with this basically, although the first part: "Use data, not text. Wherever possible, the stuff of bibliographic description should be computable data, not human-interpretable text. Any part of your  metadata that cannot be used in machine algorithms is of limited utility in user services." can be taken to extremes.

This is true only in general terms. First, in a 245 field, is this data or text? I suggest that it is, and must be, text although it may be exactly the same text as another 245 field. This is because in the ISBD/AACR2 (and I guess?) RDA standard, the 245 field attempts to transcribe as exactly as possible the information on the item. It's difficult to reconcile this with "data." It cannot be data, but information related from (transcribed from) another source. There is other information like this as well in metadata records. Plus, there have been some incredibly great cataloger notes, especially on some horribly complicated serials that I have dealt with, where some great catalogers figured out what was going on and saved me. I was never able to figure out exactly which library/librarian was responsible for which updates in those incredible serials-related 040 fields, so I couldn't offer my sincere thanks, but here I go to those serial
catalogers out there: THANK YOU!

Although it is true we should tend to use data, much of our information is based on the standard of transcription from individual items. I will also not agree that metadata that cannot be used in machine algorithms is of limited utility in user services (catalogers are users, too!); the text may be the most important parts of the record.

Re: Symbol question

Posting to Autocat

Joel Hahn wrote:
Tim Skeers wrote:
Is there an ALA character-set character accessible in OCLC for the "section" symbol used in legal citations? Which is § (assuming this will replicate when this email posts). I can't find it in the "insert character" dialog box in OCLC.
OCLC's guidelines instruct one to follow LCRI 1.0E. LCRI 1.0E(4) indicates one should use "[section]" for English-language material, "[paragraf]" or "[paragrafen]" for German-language material, etc.
The LCRI is at the Cooperative cataloging Rules http://sites.google.com/site/opencatalogingrules/aacr2-chapter-1/1-0--decisions-before-cataloging---rev/1-0e--language-and-script-of-the-description---rev#TOC-Matter-That-Cannot-Be-Reproduced-by.
This page--by the way--was very tough to make!

According to the encoding standards for character sets at http://www.loc.gov/marc/specifications/speccharucs.html, the entire UTF (Unicode) standard is valid now. Maybe you should consider using the
actual symbol by using Character Map on your computer, or even with the entities encoding at
http://www.unicodemap.org/details/0x00A7/index.html, where the code is &#x00A7;

Actually, the LCRI is about "Matter That Cannot Be Reproduced by the Facilities Available" but now it can be reproduced with Unicode. Perhaps this RI should be rethought.

Re: Bill Clinton: Create Internet agency

Posting to NGC4LIB

On 24/05/2011 22:56, Laval Hunsucker wrote:
David H. Rothman wrote :
Maybe we can say that the role of librarians is for them to encourage patrons to be their own truth-seekers, just so the users have the facts to be intelligent about it.
Maybe we can in fact better refrain from saying that. It still sounds pretty patronizing ( and condescending ) to me, though possibly I'm misreading just where you're coming from. Anyway, for my money, James Rettig ( the well-known reference specialist and former ALA president ) was much more nearly on target when he wrote almost twenty years ago, as an admonition to all over-zealous colleagues : "every information seeker should be free of the librarian's expectations"
If it is patronizing, I would agree, but I don't see it as patronizing at all. It is offering a helping hand to those who want it. If people think they know it all--how information is organized in libraries and on the web, that they already know all the best websites and the best everything, then that is absolutely fine. If somebody believes they know how a catalog works even though they have never learned how--that's OK. I thought I knew how libraries worked (I had a master's degree by then) and in library school, I realized I didn't understand much at all.

Librarians may offer their help, but they do not force themselves on anybody even when they see a person floundering around helplessly.

But the fact is, many people--including real, live scholars(wow!), approach matters from a far more humble attitude, realize that they don't know it all, that they can get help from others and not only from others of their own kind. In many cases, a part of helping is providing encouragement. There is nothing strange about any of this and there is nothing to apologize for.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Re: [NGC4LIB] National Digital Public Library (was: Bill Clinton: Create Internet agency)

On 05/23/2011 11:07 PM, Eric Lease Morgan wrote:
I believe a national digital library can be successful sans the inclusion of licensed material.

Bravo! I completely agree, only I would add an additional point: "a useful national digital library". A tool like this will obviously grow and evolve. Creating something that linked to *reliable* resources in a quick and easy way, plus resources that are *free* would clearly be popular with each and every person on the face of the earth. In business thinking, a resource with that many "eyeballs" would be very attractive and allows many options. There are millions and millions of these things, many of excellent quality and many others of the same quality as you will find in the copyrighted materials.

Certainly it would be nice to include copyrighted materials, but if a tool for free resources began to get popular, I have no doubt that the copyright holders would want their share of those "eyeballs" and come to you. I keep referring to a paper by Marcia Bates "Improving User Access to Library Catalog and Portal Information" written some time back, but it seems to continually make more and more sense. She writes:
"Principle of least effort.

Probably the single most frequently discovered finding on information seeking behavior is that people use the principle of least effort in their information seeking. This may seem reasonable and obvious, but the full significance of this finding must be understood. People do not just use information that is easy to find; they even use information they know to be of poor quality and less reliable--so long as it requires little effort to find--rather than using information they know to be of high quality and reliable, though harder to find. Research on this behavior dates at least as far back as the 1960s, when a major study demonstrated that physicians tended to rely on drug company salesmen for drug information, rather than consulting the research literature. (Coleman, Katz, & Menzel, 1967). Poole reviewed dozens of these studies in 1985 (Poole, 1985); Mann has a more recent review (Mann, 1992)."
This completely reflects my own experience of my patrons' behavior as well as (I confess) my own. Make it easy, make it free and you make something that the public will love.

I hated that movie, but in this case I really believe it:
"Build it and they will come"

Re: LC's plans

Posting to RDA-L concerning "Transforming our Bibliographic Framework"

On 05/24/2011 01:27 AM, J. McRee Elrod wrote:
So it would seem both RDA implementation and MARC21 replacement is anticipated, and cataloguing as we know it will change dramatically, if not cease.
I don't know if this really anticipates RDA implementation, but it seems as if MARC's days are really numbered. Quote:
"Spontaneous comments from participants in the US RDA Test show that a broad cross-section of the community feels budgetary pressures but nevertheless considers it necessary to replace MARC 21 in order to reap the full benefit of new and emerging content standards. The Library now seeks to evaluate how its resources for the creation and exchange of metadata are currently being used and how they should be directed in an era of diminishing budgets and heightened expectations in the broader library community."
Once again, this can happen in a huge variety of ways and it can take place in gradual steps, one step can be getting rid of ISO2709 format, which absolutely must happen before much of anything else can change. This should have happened long ago. Once that is done, replacing MARC *could* be almost as painless as when catalogs changed from MARC-8 to UTF encoding where most catalogers never even noticed it!

There was that report Library of Congress study of the North American MARC records marketplace that demonstrated many problems, but still that MARC records were in much demand, that is, by libraries.

Basically however, I think this shows that decision time is approaching. It seems that a serious business case finally is being undertaken for/against the costs and benefits of RDA, plus they seem to be reconsidering the practice of cataloging as we have known it. Certainly our current techniques and methods must change in answer to the changes in the information environment, and although I have met several administrators who initially wanted to just simply get rid of "manual metadata creation" they all changed their opinions to the point that they believed manual methods are still necessary. How important they considered the standards to be were another matter.

One point I applaud in this statement is the realization that the library catalog can no longer be considered outside the rest of the metadata environment, but as part of it and therefore, it must change in ways that will make it more widely useful. The questions I ask are: what kind of standards will we follow and how rigorously will they be enforced?

Re: Bill Clinton: Create Internet agency

Posting to NGC4LIB

David Rothman wrote:
Jim, thanks for your reflections, and here's something of interest. Nate Hill of the San Jose Library and the PLA blog wrote of the three Cs--collections, conversations and context--as functions of libraries. I like that mix.
Collections, Conversations and Context. I like that too: simple, clear and with a punch. Maybe that could be our new "Tune in, Turn on, Drop out" (!)

Currently, the systems have been trying to provide some of this, but nothing I have seen is really successful yet. One of the best I have seen so far is Doris Lessing's "The Golden Notebook" that allows experts, and others, to comment on each page. http://thegoldennotebook.org/book/p1/ This is nice, but somehow, something seems to be lacking to me.

Concerning the Protocols, it is important to understand how the library supplied context in the old days. It worked in an ingenious way. In the old card catalog, you would open the correct drawer, browse, find the heading and flip through the groups of cards as you see in these searches in the LC catalog: (title) http://tinyurl.com/3gcggnw and if you knew enough, subject search http://tinyurl.com/3vb37al.

Just browsing the cards gives the searcher a context for the item--you see pretty quickly that there is some kind of controversy. Then, when browsing the shelves, you see a lot more. The thing is, people today very rarely browse catalog records like they browsed catalog cards and a lot of this is lost. Also, browsing the shelves is lost too. While there are advantages to keyword, there are serious problems as well, since the catalog was designed to function best in the other environment, and a lot has been lost in the transfer onto the web.

On the web with keyword access, you can wind up right in the middle of the item: http://www.archive.org/stream/TheJewishPerilTheProtocolsOfTheLearnedEldersOfZion/JP#page/n6/mode/1up and who knows what someone will think?

In a relevant case, I worked in a collection that had quite a number of books on globalization, but all were anti-globalization. My own political opinion is also anti-globalization, but since I am a librarian, my personal views are irrelevant, so I wound up buying a number of books that provided a much more positive view of globalization even though I personally disagreed.

Concerning appropriate texts, I hadn't thought about it in this way before, but the problem you mention of appropriate texts may be fairly new (or maybe not!). While the concern of appropriateness was always there for librarians, it was more circumscribed in the sense that a specific institution had more circumscribed patrons, high school or middle school, research scholars or undergraduates perhaps, but now it's potentially *everybody* (pre-school to senior researchers) using the same system (as they do with Google). Public librarians would have much more experience than academic librarians. It's amazing that the systems work as well as they do, but there is still a lot more needed.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Re: Bill Clinton: Create Internet agency

Posting to NGC4LIB

On 05/22/2011 10:41 PM, David H. Rothman wrote:
I agree with worries over censorship even if that isn't Bill Clinton's intent. And, yes, both librarians and journalists are solutions. No policing or corrections agency, though. I hate the idea.
My own concern is that so few non-librarians have an understanding what library selection (collection development) really means today. A good overview of the U.S. theory of selection is Peggy Johnson's "Fundamentals of collection development and management." 2nd ed. ALA Editions, 2009, available on Google Books (this section for free in the preview!) http://books.google.com/books?id=BVQhMEKf3pUC&pg=PA13#v=onepage.

Bill Clinton's idea is to provide the truth, whatever that means. As the above book describes, there has been a tension to provide "what the public wants" vs. "what is good for them." Part of this is the latter is the need for a librarian to provide "the truth," which is extremely difficult--not only trying to determine what "the truth" happens to be, but also trying to define "what is the public?" in a non-stereotypical way. So librarians have focused instead on trying to provide "balanced coverage" as much as possible, and no librarian would ever want to say that their collection contains "the truth". In this regard, you may beinterested in reading a section of an online book I wrote, "What is a Library?" at http://aurlibrary.wetpaint.com/page/What+is+a+Library%3F

In my experience however, these considerations of library selection may need to evolve into something different (somehow). It seems that it is slowly dawning upon people who use the resources on the Internet that they are being manipulated in all kinds of ways, not only through the resources themselves, but the Google-type searching and how it is all being manipulated in turn. As I have worked with people, especially younger students, they like one-stop shopping and want what I call a "Sam's Club for Truth" where they can go to this great big place and find truth on the shelves just for the taking. The library information literacy programs are seen as big pains and are relegated to other classes students don't want to take, and forgotten just as quickly as their basic algebra. In any case, people are not going to research the authors and corporate bodies in the books and articles they want to use. That's too much work; nobody has that much time to do it, and in any case, that was what the entire bibliographic structure was supposed to achieve in earlier days: the author's work was vetted using peer reviewers assigned by the publishers, the publishers were rated reliable or not, and libraries bought overwhelmingly from the reliable publishers through book jobbers, who did a lot of vetting themselves.

For all kinds of reasons, this relationship is breaking down and nothing has replaced it, primarily (I think) because selection processes for resources on the web have not been monetized yet. I personally consider the Google/Yahoo etc. tools as a modernized "Books in Print", i.e. an essential tool of use mainly to bibliographers and librarians, never used alone but best used in conjunction with other tools. Google/Yahoo etc. misses a lot and hides much more, but nevertheless, they are the best we have. The newer tools such as Mendeley and specialized Web2.0 resources show great promise but are not coordinated yet. I have considered such coordination and management to be among the tasks of the future librarian.

Re: Bill Clinton: Create Internet agency

Posting to NGC4LIB

Both views are quite interesting to me.

First, the idea of Todd Puccio that:
Any agency, no matter how well intentioned, will attempt to protect its funding by keeping its funder happy.
In this case, whatever federal government administration is in power at the time. I certainly would not want to give any agency (How could it possibly really be independent ?) this kind of power.
Even our old advocate friend Sandy Berman accused the LC of being biased.
How much more would an agency of this kind be?
I agree that there is bias in anything created by human agency. Of course LC is biased: it is an official part of the U.S. government and absolutely must reflect its positions in many areas. Nevertheless, funding must exist and therefore it must come from somewhere. Where there is funding, there is power. This is just in the nature of things and cannot be avoided, no matter how we try.

If there is going to be a government, it involves getting funding and directing it toward initiatives. The question is: should there be funding for something like what Bill Clinton suggested? Is there a need for what he suggested? It all depends on if you think what he is suggesting is a type of censorship or not. I would be completely against censorship, but as far as creating a tool to help the citizenry, I would be for it, since that is the ultimate task of librarianship.

Laval Hunsucker's view:
It is certainly not my experience that not-for-profit organizations or units therein ( including libraries ) are any less vulnerable to all kinds of manipulation than are private, for-profit corporations. Perhaps they are even more vulnerable.
I had in mind public entities that are subject to open scrutiny by the populace. Google's algorithms are completely secret and they punish websites that overstep their "rules". (See
http://catalogingmatters.blogspot.com/2011/02/dirty-little-secrets-of-search.html) In any case, I think his statement that funding from taxpayers would be a worthwhile investment is fine, and similar to public funding of libraries themselves.

Also, Laval Hunsucker wrote:
If what you are talking about is the selecting in general of what should come to the attention of a creative researcher/scholar, then I doubt in fact whether there's a competent and self-respecting scholar or researcher anywhere who would really agree.
We have discussed this before at length. The idea that a scholar has not needed help in finding worthwhile materials, thereby rendering library selection irrelevant has never been my own experience. I've worked in all kinds of institutions. I am fortunate to have some really famous  researchers as my friends so I am not just spouting smoke. The fact is, the moment someone searches a library catalog, they are utilizing the selection of librarians, who in turn use publishers, book vendors, their own scholars, and many others. There are all kinds of tools to help librarians select. Someone has to be responsible to decide which materials a library's budget purchases, therefore, selection is unavoidable. My own experience (seconded by others) is that the creative researcher/scholar all too often concentrates only on his or her own preferences, and anything else can go hang or at least is of far less importance. The idea of maintaining a coherent *library collection* very often is difficult to understand.

Online materials have only made it more complicated. Anyone using Google relies on the selection done automatically with its page rank mechanism since nobody is ever going to look at item number 2500. (OK, maybe .001% of people will, but that only proves the point that the vast majority of  researchers need and want help) Selection of free, online resources is a completely different thing from the traditional library selection, but it is still necessary at least for the moment. Otherwise, people are left only with secret algorithms. Perhaps someday the Web2.0 tools will obviate the need for librarians in selection, but that will be awhile yet.

The problem is, many people equate selection with censorship. Too bad.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Re: [RDA-L] Plans for Existing Bib Records?

Posting to RDA-L

On 05/20/2011 10:51 PM, Pat Sayre McCoy wrote:
> Can we really compare our product (metadata/bibliographic records) to a can of corn? One is simple--I want a can of corn. Supermarkets are organized with the canned vegetables together (usually) and for those who cannot read English, there is a picture of corn on the can. One could confuse corn and creamed corn, but that's about as far as it goes.
> Catalog users want a book/video/CD that they learned about somehow, through a book review, a radio program or in conversation. They remember part of what they need to identify the book--maybe the author or title or part of the title, and they remember the item was published/issued recently. It was about corn. Will they really be happy to browse "corn" in our catalogs or will they want to combine the author name (or part of the name) they remember and the part of the title they remember and then limit that to the more recent materials the library has concerning corn. Oh yes, it was in English. Never mind the Spanish stuff. Another limit. And then they find that the thing they were looking for is a book and see it's charged out but there's an electronic copy they can view. After reading a bit, they decide that this isn't what they wanted, but something else that turned up in the search list is. Back to the list to look at the next title. And the next, and the next,...until they find one they want. They might also discover by looking at other records with the author's name that the author of the book on corn they found is also the author of a book on beans, or was somehow involved in a documentary about corn. Not quite the same as picking a can off the shelf.
We can certainly compare what makes up a metadata record and what goes into that can of corn. That can of corn on the shelf, seemingly so simple, is actually the final product of a highly complex process. It did not just appear there. There are multitudes of standards for how it is grown, what kinds of pesticides can be used on it, the quality of the water and soil, the grading of the corn, how it is stored and canned. There are standards for the cans themselves and how they are sealed. There are standards in the labeling, and how long the cans may sit on the shelves before you see it on the shelf. There are also standards for the shelves. There are probably many more that I do not know about. Why are there these standards? Because otherwise we must all rely on trusting people we don't know and who we will never meet. History has shown this cannot work, and standards were instituted.

As I keep trying to point out. These things are vitally important to the functioning of our society. In the case of the can of corn, if the standards are not followed, massive numbers of people can die from ptomaine poisoning. So, taking that can of corn off the shelf, something that seems so simple, hides an incredible number of people, processes, experts and standards that people simply *take for granted* are all doing their jobs competently. If someone does not do a good enough job, e.g. the farmer uses the wrong pesticides, there will be consequences all the way down the line, not least for the farmer himself.

Almost everything we buy follows incredibly complex and detailed technical standards: *everything* you eat, all your medicines, automobiles, construction, and on and on. How is such an incredible system instituted? That's much of what my last podcast was about.

My stance is that metadata standards should approach those of the other products in society. Although I realize that messing up a bibliographic record is not nearly as bad as a community getting lousy water--the worst my bad record will do to someone is perhaps a person won't find the resource, mess up their thesis and wind up shining shoes; still, I think it is important that bibliographic records be considered in a similar way, and we need to follow standards that--although they do not have to be as rigorous as the standards for a can of corn because ours are really less important--our standards should be considered in the same light and similar requirements to be followed and enforced.

I think that if this happened, the entire profession would gain a lot more respect in society.

Re: Plans for Existing Bib Records?

Posting to RDA-L

I guess we have probably exhausted our respective points. I will only discuss one here:

On 05/20/2011 09:17 PM, Christopher Cronin wrote:
> Jim wrote:
>> "I wonder what the faculty would say about the single author rule where that co-authors can legitimately be left out, along with authors and other contributors? I doubt if they would like it very much at all."
> Exactly, couldn't agree more. And that's precisely why we have CHOSEN not to apply the minimum at OUR institution for the vast majority of what we do. Eight months and seven thousand records later, I can say with some confidence that RDA has presented no barrier or hindrance for Chicago to accomplish exactly what you are arguing for, James. But that doesn't mean that a different institution will make, what is for them, an equally-valid but different treatment decision for the same resource; the contribution they make to the collective is no less valuable. If a resource is peripheral to their collection and they don't need to invest in creating as robust metadata as we need for the same resource, which may be central to our collection, then we will add what we need. That's why we are here.

This shows a completely different attitude toward standards than what is in the other professions. For one thing, newer versions of standards should seek to provide improvements from what they were before, not something worse. Allowing a worse product actually says a lot. Companies whose business is storing and canning corn cannot decide on their own, without any research or discussion from the communities, to declare that the older standards were too high, that now lower standards will be allowed, say which standards they want to follow, and which standards they won't follow. But never fear, the community can "trust" whatever this specific organization makes because based on the "expertise" and "professionalism" of their own employees, nothing bad will happen. This is not how standards work. Any company who tried that with corn or wheat or automobile maintenance or electrical connections would be shut down, no matter how much they might proclaim that "their own employees will decide to do even more than is required." Yeah, sure. I don't know how many outside would believe that.

This isn't saying anything insulting about catalogers or the profession. It's merely saying that catalogers are no better, and no worse, than anybody else in the world. They are just human beings.

Again, RDA's standard was made arbitrarily--unless somebody out there can point to some kind of research done that showed our patrons wanted only a single author, plus a translator, plus an illustrator only of childrens' books, although I have never heard anybody suggest this--and then dropped it all into the lap of the cataloger. Just a couple of years ago--even right now, that is considered to be *not good enough* and can only be considered a huge step backward from what it has been.

Certainly, each institution can edit any record they receive, but then they stay on that crazy merry-go-round we are on now, where everybody is expected to edit each other's records because they just aren't good enough, and I am sure institutions will do it for a little while until they give up (again) from too many records to update and too much work to do. I certainly don't see how this is any kind of advance at all. You sure couldn't sell candy bars that way, checking each and every one for yuck inside before somebody got it!

What will you do when massive numbers of records come in--all following the RDA standard--that only have a single author? Or do you really think this won't happen because catalogers are too "professional" to allow standards to fall? Why not fault the standard itself? Why even allow it to happen and then have to clean up afterwards?

Re: Plans for Existing Bib Records?

Posting to RDA-L

On 05/20/2011 05:34 PM, Myers, John F. wrote:
So, when AACR2 makes an arbitrary determination that "a single author is good enough" when there are more than three, it is OK.

However, when RDA affords catalogers the option to follow that historical arbitrary determination to its logical end (by extending its application to numbers of authors less than three) or to break with the pattern of arbitrary determinations (by allowing all authors regardless of number), that is now a problem?

On a local basis, I routinely disregarded the Rule of Three in order to incorporate descriptive elements and access points for college faculty. In the future, regardless of whether the "restrictive" option allowed in RDA is initially employed, the agencies where such access is important will improve the record to meet their constituents' needs and expectations. Those agencies that use the record "as is", in its pre-improved state, will do so because it meets the needs of their own constituents and hence needn't worry about the subsequent changes.
That was what AACR2 determined: that a single author was good enough when there were more than three. Do I agree? No, and I never did. So what? There are lots of people who don't agree with what is mandated in the standards, but it doesn't matter: they are still the standards and must be followed. Otherwise, they are not standards. In normal standards, they mandate minimums and you can do more. When cataloging, lots of catalogers made additional access points. I have too. Unfortunately, according to AACR2, that goes outside the standard because AACR2 is not so much a standard as much as it creates a template, as RDA does too in a lot of ways as well.

The rule of three could be improved and turned into a real rule of three by turning it into a minimal standard: "trace at least the first three authors". This is simple, easy to teach and even adds access because we would trace three authors when there are four or more, while if somebody added the fourth, it would still follow the standard. This is the concern that I have, here is an item with 3 authors and 2 editors, and all I have to do is trace the first one and still be in the standard. That is going the wrong way!

I keep quoting myself, but I hate to repeat everything. I talk about the same issues in my last podcast.

Re: Plans for Existing Bib Records?

Posting to RDA-L

On 05/20/2011 04:20 PM, Christopher Cronin wrote:
>> James Weinheimer wrote: "It is simply unrealistic to think people will do more than the minimum."
> It is? I have yet to hear of a single library in the test, or that subsequently implemented RDA, that has made a policy to limit description and access to the first named creators just because RDA says we can. In fact, I have heard and seen evidence demonstrating exactly the opposite. RDA's elimination of the ceiling that was the 'Rule of Three' has freed catalogers to transcribe full statements of responsibility, and as a BIBCO institution, we are providing access points and authority control with the same mindset as we always have -- if it is important for discovery and access, we do the work. But even if another library did do just the minimum, perhaps because that's truly all they could afford, or all they required to meet their particular needs, or all they felt was warranted by the resource for their purposes, I'm certainly not going to malign it. I say great -- contribute your minimum to the collective and we'll add to it. That's why we have a collective.
> I simply do not understand this impetus to underestimate the ability of catalogers to put what they do into a larger context. I don't employ any robots here at Chicago, I employ professional catalogers with the capacity to use their best, experienced, reasoned, and well-informed judgment. And I certainly don't equate the application of professional cataloger's judgment with "Do whatever you feel like!" nor have I have seen evidence that the catalogers do either. If bosses need to be subverted because they don't understand what catalogers do, why they do it, and for whom, that's the boss's problem, not RDA's. Communities don't write content standards to subvert ill-informed bosses. Implementing RDA, and understanding the FRBR model behind it, has only heightened, not diminished, Chicago's catalogers' focus on the needs of the user -- even if meeting those needs is at the expense of the cataloger's (i.e., taking time to spell things out rather than abbreviate, and transcribe full statements of responsibility, etc.).
> We are arguing for the same thing -- providing the best possible level of access for our users. But "minimum" and "best possible" is relative to the resource, the institution, and the user -- the RDA instructions for minimally providing the first-named creator simply recognizes that relativity and allows an institution to make choices to go beyond it. With the ceiling removed, the sky is the limit. In the 2,000 or so RDA copy cataloging records we have imported since October 2010, we have not seen evidence of a problem with this instruction. Metadata has been very robust so far in our exeprience. But again, if you think it isn't working, then it would be helpful not just to read the complaint, but also a proposed solution or alternative to the instructions in question.
Of course, no library is going to advertise something like that, just as the food industry is not advertising how they are shrinking their packages and raising prices at the same time (lots of articles out there, here is a recent one http://www.nj.com/business/index.ssf/2011/04/food_prices_costs_packages_con.html). People do these things quietly so that they don't have to hear a lot of howling. Also, although a catalog division or individual cataloger may start out having every intention of being ethical, doing it "right", etc. these intentions change over time as everyone feels the increasing pressure for more productivity, and catalogers will most probably be pushed hard in the future. These sorts of pressures happen all the time in all fields--and that is precisely why the government established minimums for the business world, to guarantee specific levels of quality, so that when times are tough, the quality doesn't go down too far. This is only being realistic. The standards are based on what people need, not on what resources a company has available at the moment, and if a company cannot produce a minimal quality product, they shouldn't be allowed to muck everything up for everybody. Perhaps this
is not very nice, but critical in society.

RDA has determined that a single author is good enough. I wonder what the faculty would say about the single author rule where their co-authors can legitimately be left out, along with editors and other contributors? I doubt if they would like it very much at all.

And although you may not want to equate cataloger's judgment with "Do whatever you feel like!" it nevertheless remains true, because it will follow the standards. (I wrote a post on this to Autocat

Bill Clinton: Create Internet agency

Posting to NGC4LIB

Ex-President Bill Clinton has suggested the creation of some kind of agency that would "be independent" to seek out and "correct" factual errors on the Internet, and has come under a lot of criticism for it, with critics calling it a "truth regulator" or a "Ministry of Truth" etc.
(a more neutral article is at Politico) http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0511/54951.html

But he makes a valid point with: "Somebody needs to be doing it, and maybe it's a worthy expenditure of taxpayer money." As I have mentioned in several posts, one "user need" that I have heard requested very often, from little children to advanced researchers, is the need for selection. People are gradually becoming suspicious of Google and its algorithms (at last!), while private, for-profit corporations are vulnerable to all kinds of manipulation from the public, from their competitors, and from all kinds of forces in the world. Their business aim of "make the customer happy" is not always the same as telling people the truth. Besides, people still find a lot of junk in the search results of Google and Yahoo while missing a lot at the same time. But let's face it: people find a lot of junk in libraries and miss a lot there too, but the perception is completely different.

I don't believe that Bill Clinton was suggesting any kind of censorship, but more of a "reliable space" to find out what the current thinking is on certain topics. This is not a new idea, but was suggested by H.G. Wells in his book "World Brain" where he suggested the idea of the World Encyclopedia. Here is an article where he wrote about the Encyclopedia https://sherlock.ischool.berkeley.edu/wells/world_brain.html

Wells did not foresee the Internet, and compared his encyclopedia it to the Britannica, but I am sure he would agree that the Internet would certainly make it far easier. His idea was not like Wikipedia, although many have suggested it. It would be much more like Citizendium, written by experts, but still with important differences since according to Wells, articles would be written differently, with sections (summaries) for different readers in mind: researchers to journalists to interested laymen to children.

When looked at in this way, I think that everybody would like it because it would be designed with everyone in mind, and if the true global collaboratory powers of the Internet could be used today, plus significant government funding to keep it independent, I would agree with Bill Clinton: it would be a worthy expenditure of taxpayer money.

Of course, Clinton's idea is to build a place to verify facts. There are some sites like that now, http://www.factcheck.org/, http://www.politifact.com/, http://www.snopes.com/ and
http://www.opensecrets.org/ are the ones that I know. Some would include Wikileaks in this list but I doubt if he would. I think more is necessary, but his idea would be a good first step.

Naturally, librarians would be important parts of this....

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Re: Plans for Existing Bib Records?

Posting to RDA-L

On 05/19/2011 07:22 PM, J. McRee Elrod wrote:
Jennifer Sweda quoted the Paris Principles:
... when access is deliberately left out of the record for a given author, then the catalog will not be an "efficient instrument" to find out "which works by a particular author ...
RDA requires only the first author and illustrators of children's books as author mainn or added entry. You can have main entry under first author, a statement of resonsibility giving that author plus "[and<nn> others]", with no author added entries. There needs to be a minimum standard number.
Absolutely! The standard as it reads now is that all you have to do to follow the standard is to trace main entry, translators and illustrators of children's books (which is really weird!). Everybody seems to assume that this allows the catalogers suddenly to start tracing *additional* headings. Why? It is simply unrealistic to think people will do more than the minimum--especially in this economic climate. Why would anybody believe it would increase, except in really exceptional cases of projects with special funding, or the cataloger just felt like doing it because he or she liked the resource and maybe the bosses won't notice?

What are the cataloging managers going to decide? Will they just say, "Do whatever you feel like!"  There will have to be at least some local policies on specific materials, such as dictionaries and encyclopedias, wikis, serials and other resources.

Also relevant to the discussion are the scandals in the authorship of scientific materials published by "too many people" http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/19/science/after-two-scandals-physics-group-expands-ethics-guidelines.html. Here are some articles I have found quickly, "Ethical Abuses in the Authorship of Scientific Papers" http://www.scielo.br/pdf/rbent/v51n1/01.pdf and guidelines for biomedical journals http://www.icmje.org/ethical_1author.html.

Provide a minimum number of authors. It's clear and simple. Otherwise, each institution will have to decide on its own. It makes as much sense to standardize it as to let it all go down to one author, which it probably will, unless catalogers just continue the practices as they are now.

Public Library: An American Commons

Posting to NGC4LIB

I watched a public lecture by Robert Dawson given at San Francisco Public Library for the opening of a photographic exhibition "Public Library: An American Commons" and it is just wonderful. I found it moving. http://sfpl.org/index.php?pg=1006175801 I also discovered a slideshow at http://places.designobserver.com/slideshow/public-library-an-american-commons/26228/1768/

Mr. Dawson has been photographing all kinds of libraries around the country for the last 15 or 20 years and some of his photos are great. The spaces are always interesting, and in short, Mr. Dawson is obviously a great lover of libraries so I appreciate his artistry.

What becomes clear from his work though, is how widespread the smaller public libraries are. It provoked me into look up some statistics. According to "Public Libraries in the United States: Fiscal Year 2008" by the Institute of Museum and Library Services http://harvester.census.gov/imls/pubs/Publications/pls2008.pdf it turns out that in public libraries, 56.6% have less than five FTE staff, while 72% have less than 10 FTE. (This assumes that I am reading everything correctly, but I believe I am. p. 94) Of course, these statistics are from 2008, before the economic meltdown, so we can assume even smaller levels of staffing today.

I am sure that these libraries are having a very difficult time. The huge changes in information are hitting all libraries, but especially those with small staffs, who now have to do more and more with less and less. While larger libraries may lose staffing, when you have 3 staff and you lose one, that's a loss of 1/3. There are so many things that could be done to help these small libraries and their patrons with open source and open access, by building tools that would really help everyone, but we seem to be concentrating on other tasks. When I look at some of those people in these photos, I think: how is RDA supposed to help them? How are they supposed to deal with it? What will they get in return? Many in those small libraries are probably too busy with other matters and will just ignore RDA until it hits them like a tornado or tsunami. Unfortunately, we still have seen no business case justifying what will clearly be sacrifices on the part of many.

In this talk and slideshow are some of the faces and places.

Re: Authority records purge?

Posting on Autocat

On 05/18/2011 04:19 PM, Todd Grooten wrote:
We were all set to send our database to Marcive for a clean-up, then we had a reorganization that lead to a new department head, who feels that authority control is a waste of time. (I'm not going to bother to try and change her mind on that one...)

We are reviewing our contract with our automation vendor and have decided to not pay for the authority control component. We currently have 51980 authority records loaded in our catalog. These haven't been updated since 1994. No one here cares about authority control. I'm wondering if we can just delete these authority records from the catalog.
These are the sorts of decisions that management, along with regular people, will be faced with in our straitened times, no matter their own feelings. It could be that it's a matter of laying off staff or updating authority records. Every library will be facing *exactly the same type of tradeoffs* when and if they decide to implement RDA. These are not easy decisions and some rather wild suggestions come out occasionally.

For instance, I thought it was a joke but it was not, that in Maine and Missouri, lawmakers introduced bills to bring back child labor.... I never thought I would ever see something like that. Thankfully, I believe both bills were shot down. But this is the kind of world we are entering. How do libraries find their way?

Also, if our tools highlighted the power of authority control and made it easier to use instead of making it such a pain for everyone, there would be much more appreciation of it, but....

Concerning the authority maintenance, it's too bad that libraries still have to pay for it when these are the things that should be done locally. In my opinion, in the greater universe of the World Wide Web, blind references are not nearly so serious as they used to be, because while the local collection may not have anything by or about someone, there can be *lots* of valuable materials online, so perhaps there would be a way to turn them all around and instead of suppressing them, to make them useful.
Although I had no authorities module, this is how I designed my Extend Search to work, however inefficient it may be.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Re: A replacement for MARC?

Posting to Autocat

On 05/18/2011 12:05 AM, J. McRee Elrod wrote:
I am sufficiently put off by the unilingual nature of XML, and past errors and failures in linkage, to be unintrigued by either.

Linkage within a given system, or linkage via the web for acquiring or updating data, is great; but depending upon outside linkage for each OPAC display?

It's all too fragile for my taste, particularly in this time of increasing natural disasters due to climate change.
While I agree with the sentiment, it's just the nature of the beast we are dealing with now. For every step we advance, we lose something as well. So, our society would pretty much collapse without electricity just for a few weeks. I confess that I'm sure I couldn't survive, but I know that my grandparents or great-grandparents would have made it, although they might have thought it was a  pain.

Nonetheless, libraries either will get on the boat or stay at home. Concerns always remain but the tradeoffs are worth it. For instance, I grew up in a tiny town in the middle of New Mexico and if I had had the full-text books available on the web today, and I had access to the entire courses of study put out so wonderfully by our colleagues in India http://www.youtube.com/user/nptelhrd, not to mention the Open CourseWare from all kinds of universities and learning institutions... why, my life would probably be quite different. That is, if I had been smart enough, and disciplined enough, to reach out and take advantage of them.

One of my best friends is a very well-known archaeologist, and he believes that our society will disintegrate just like Rome did. He thinks that all of this internet stuff can, and will, disappear just as quickly and as permanently as what happened with antiquity. Only a tiny percentage of what they created is still around.

That still doesn't stop him from making some really great materials for the web!

To mention it once again, it is fairly easy to introduce redundancies into the system we would create so that if one site went down, another would become available. Information can be cached in a whole variety of ways, or saved in various ways, as we see in web browsers (the more modern ones) which allow you to save only the web page (HTML), or all of the files associated with the web page (COMPLETE). Various solutions can be implemented.

Re: Upper case in records

Posting to RDA-L

On 05/17/2011 10:43 PM, Jonathan Rochkind wrote:
Yeah, if RDA _required_ all capital titles, that might be bad.  I don't think anyone thinks all capital titles are preferable.

But in the actual real world eco-system, where we're often going to be harvesting data from other sources rather than creating it ourselves from -- and not going to have time to individually review and fix each record -- and that's the environment we're going to be in like it or not (and it's got some positives, that environment) -- it does not seem a bad choice to me to ALLOW you to take titles in the capitalization they are provided in.

It certainly does not seem disastrous.  Certainly if any catalogers do have the time to fix those before or once the record is in a cooperative cataloging store, that would be a service to the rest of us.  Nobody is arguing that they like all-capital titles.

Jonathan points to the exact problem: we are supposed to be "harvesting data" from other sources rather than creating it for ourselves, *and* not review and edit each record individually. I agree that we absolutely must do this, but something highly important is assumed here: that the information in the records you are harvesting is of *sufficient quality*.

When an experienced cataloger sees a record such as have been mentioned here--all caps, when *no standard* allows it: not ONIX, not AACR2 or any previous library cataloging rules, no citation guides, or anything else that I am aware of, the cataloger immediately become suspicious. In the past, there has been a great deal of variation allowed in these standards just as there are in in the library catalog: I remember seeing cards that were in all lower case except for the first word. It made German look very strange. I even found an example: http://tinyurl.com/67vt5z6 (I don't know if this was Princeton specific or not, but probably not, but obviously a Taylorist procedure, just as the RDA acceptance of all caps also betrays a Taylorist mentality) Also, using all caps for acquisitions records provided (still provides) information in itself: BEWARE! This is an order record!. The major variation in all of these methods is Title case, which seems to be followed in most of the citation guides, but no bibliographic standard I have seen allows all caps.

So, the experienced cataloger will look at a record with this kind of absolutely elementary error and immediately think: "What else is wrong with this stinky record?" because if the elementary part is so obviously bad, what about the parts that really are difficult?

I agree that our records must interoperate with other metadata records on the web, and harvesting is certainly one way to do it, although the methods will vary. Ultimately though, the methods don't matter: the records must work coherently with the others and the idea of data standardization in some sense becomes unavoidable. It seems to me that a record in all caps provides a clear indication that it *does not follow any standards at all* and if we want our standardized records to interoperate with these other records in a coherent way, editing will be unavoidable if we want to provide some level of standards (which I think is absolutely vital). Otherwise, we just throw up our hands, harvest any kind of junk that comes our way and hang the consequences both to ourselves and our patrons. We wouldn't stand for something like this in our water: "Well, only 25% of the wells have typhoid," or that only 50% of the rubber that goes into making the tires on our cars is reliable. 

How can we try to resolve this in the real world? By trying *very hard* to coordinate metadata creators into following some basic, minimum levels of shared standards. Otherwise, I see the only option as chaos and when there are no standards the only remaining choice is probably the Google/Yahoo/Bing/etc. algorithmic solutions. The one thing, and the one thing only, that catalogers can provide to automatically-created metadata records is standardization. If that is not seen as important, it seems that we might as well throw away our cataloging manuals and look for other jobs.

Apologies for being so gloomy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Re: Dystopias by Karen Coyle

Posting to Autocat

On 05/16/2011 05:49 PM, MULLEN Allen wrote:
I find Karen Coyle always worth reading and considering. She is both a visionary thinker and a practical nuts and bolts doer and her influence on trends and developments in library information discovery is considerable. This post deals with the danger that library discovery will be eclipsed by Google and other commercial resource discovery/use entities:

Quote: "Really, if we don't do this, the future of libraries and research will be decided by Google. There, I said it."
For a somewhat different take on this, read Stuart Weibel's It's too late:
"But, if we want libraries (as she also says) to be of the Web, then why paint Google as the bugbear that threatens our future? Indeed, I would argue there is no single organization in the Age of the Web that has done more to improve access to information in general, and research specifically, than has Google. Google Books is something we didn't have the wherewithal to accomplish, even if we had had the vision. Google Scholar on the other hand, we have no excuse for not having done within our own community. It was doable. A failure of imagination. In a sense I suppose Karen and I are converging on the same position from different sides."
My own opinion is that librarians still have to figure out exactly what it is that we provide that nobody else does. If we declare that it is the job of libraries to store and organize resources of information, I  think Karen and Stu are right--libraries won't stand a chance. Certainly libraries must be on the web, of the web, in the web, for the web, up the web, and people can add whatever prepositions they prefer.

But what is even more important is to figure out, once we are on, of, in, etc. the web, why anybody will want to come to our place as opposed to the Googles and Yahoos and Bings? It won't be because of searching or because our information is "better", although they will continue to come if they absolutely have to, e.g. to get a resource for free that otherwise they would have to pay for, but that will not be much of a reason to retain separate libraries.

Concerning metadata creation (or cataloging), there is one reason and one reason alone why somebody might prefer to use our metadata: the data itself is standardized. It isn't that there is so much more of our metadata than anyone else's or even that it's "better" in some sort of absolute sense in that it gives you "better results", but it is supposed to follow standards of AACR2 where you can get more or less guaranteed results by searching on headings. (Much of the bibliographic description is important primarily for the collection managers, and much less to patrons--but this doesn't mean it loses any of its importance!)

Yet, this focus on standards assumes that the metadata creators are trained and genuinely following the standards--something that we can't assume any longer. And I cannot see how anybody will be more likely to follow RDA standards than they have been following AACR2 standards.

I believe that when librarians figure out what they have to provide that *nobody else on the web* does, then they will be able to settle down and chart out a future for themselves. That is when librarians can begin to regard the Googles and Yahoos and Bings not as competitors, but as mere tools that they can take and mold for their own profession and their own purposes.

Reconceptualizing matters on such a grand scale is not easy when you are in the midst of them. As a first attempt, I think we must reconsider what the terms "libraries" "information/knowledge" "librarian" and "librarianship" really mean today and how their meanings have changed in the last 20 years or so. Each individual in the newspaper industry is certainly thinking about this, as they reconsider what "newspapers" "news" "journalist" and "journalism" mean.

Perhaps in 20 or 30 years, everything will be much clearer than today, but at this point in time, things are in too much flux to make any decisions.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Re: A sad Friday

Posting to Autocat

On 05/14/2011 06:12 PM, Marian Veld wrote:
The problem is, given the American political system, those non-emergency changes never happen. Politicians and the media know they have to manufacture a crisis to get any real change to happen. So we end up being manipulated by whoever is best at  getting our attention for their*emergency.*

I know, I know, education is the answer to this. Except it isn't because our education system is designed to produce sheep who believe everything they're told. I suppose in a way libraries are better educators than the education establishment. At least we usually make a pretense of neutrality and try to help people evaluate information for themselves.
I won't discuss the political situation, but I do think that in these transitional/semi-emergency times (as discussed in "Permanent Shift?: Library Budgets 2010" http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/communityfunding/849932-268/permanent_shift_library_budgets_2010.html.csp), *everyone* will be entering a period of "prioritization" and there is no telling how libraries as a profession, or how any individual library will emerge. Therefore, to me the task seems clear: libraries must figure out ways to make themselves more important in the lives of their paymasters. It is really my belief that in the future, the primary contact that the public will have with libraries will be through virtual means, and consequently, the library catalog will become increasingly important. But in its current incarnation, it's just too difficult to use and nobody will sit still long enough to go through hours of training.

For the present, I think what we need to do is make this primary contact with the catalog much less complex and more appealing for the patrons (also our paymasters). The vast majority of these changes can and should be done through innovations in systems and improved "information architecture". These are changes that can be enacted the most cheaply and quickly, and would certainly have more impact on our patrons than any and all the changes promoted with RDA.

But it is difficult to see how any of this will play out.

Re: Upper case in records (fwd)

Posting to RDA-L and Autocat

Apologies for cross-posting, but this is pertinent to both lists.
On 05/13/2011 02:09 AM, J. McRee Elrod wrote:
On Autocat there has been a discussion of all upper case titles in RDA test records. Most find them objectionable, whether a result of "take what you see", or ONIX harvesting.
Considering ONIX procedures, I would like to point out that the ONIX Best Practices document
(http://www.bisg.org/docs/Best_Practices_Document.pdf) states very clearly on p. 12 that capitalization of titles is important:
"Titles should *never* [their emphasis] be presented in all capital letters as a default. The only times that words in titles should be presented in all capital letters is when such a presentation is correct for a given word. Acronyms (e.g. UNESCO, NATO, UNICEF, etc.) are an example of a class of words that are correctly presented in all uppercase letters. When acronyms are made possessive, however, the terminal "s" should not be capitalized."
Then comes a list of examples.

So, it would seem that through ONIX harvesting, we would get records that more or less correspond to our own practices, that is, if the ONIX metadata creators follow their own procedures.

Capitalization does seem important to the general community, e.g. in addition to ONIX, see the in-depth rules for Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(capital_letters),
for a nice discussion, the Web Style Guide at http://webstyleguide.com/wsg3/8-typography/5-typographic-emphasis.html, see also the Yahoo Style Guide at http://styleguide.yahoo.com/editing/treat-abbreviations-capitalization-and-titles-consistently/capitalization.

As the last one mentions, all caps tends to send an alarm, and be interpreted as shouting (as I myself interpret it).

Therefore, from this it seems that a title (or anything else) in all caps would tend to come from the item itself through scanning and OCR, or in some other way.

I realize that the rule for accepting capitalization as it is actually hides a Taylorist attitude of aiming for greater mechanical productivity, since a rather time-consuming manual activity, akin to drudgery, could be avoided. Still, although in one sense, it shouldn't make any difference to people (although searching for "who" and "WHO" and "The Who" are conceptually different), it appears that  capitalization really is important to the public at large. Therefore, it should be important for us as well.

My own opinion is that people already have enough problems with our records and we shouldn't repel them even more. Correct capitalization is too complex to do 100% automatically, and human editing will be necessary (as it is taken for granted by other agencies as shown above). Therefore, methods should be found to help make the human cataloger more efficient. For example, if something is all caps, there should be the option of making it all lower-case or sentence-case automatically (very possible to achieve right now, e.g. http://thesentencecase.org/) so the cataloger at least does not have to retype everything, and just edit a few special words that would need adjustment of some sort to the capitalization. These kinds of capabilities would be extremely easy to add to a catalog. I am sure more would be possible once we thought about it in these terms.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Practical solutions (Was: Publishers and ebooks)

Posting to NGC4LIB

On 05/12/2011 02:14 AM, john g marr wrote:
On Wed, 11 May 2011, James Weinheimer wrote:
The statement that "none of us can take the time to learn everything to make deeply informed decisions" is a statement of absolute, 100% fact.
Actually, that is a false statement in many ways. Perhaps closer to the truth is the concept that: "Those of us who *chose* to take the time to learn *enough* to make deeply informed decisions may be rewarded with more success and a better reputation for veracity than those who do not."

Of course, there is no such thing as "absolute, 100% fact" anyway, particularly when one sentence (the original statement as a "loaded remark") contains 6 imperfectly definable concepts [#...#] interrelated by 7 absolute generalizations [i.e. exaggerations] not even logically subject to verification [*...*].

There is no exaggeration ... unless you can demonstrate that [the original statement] is indeed false, but that will be very tough.

1st, a statement does not have be false to be an exaggeration. Exaggeration can be read as emotionally manipulative rather than important for its content (e.g, sometimes it can make people laugh and sometimes it actually stops the brain from thinking, etc.).

When one side of a debate is focusing on practical matters and the other focuses on theory, it is difficult to find common ground. In practice, using critical thinking--although a laudable goal--is highly time consuming and will quickly founder in the ocean of reality. As I mentioned before, if I want to vote for a candidate for office and one of the issues I am concerned about is global warming, I need to know something about it to make a decent vote. But the evidence for global warming is extremely technical and dependent on all kinds of people and complex technology all over the world. Unless you have made it your career to learn what these highly technical issues mean, you are forced to rely on the opinions of those who have made it their career to understand.

I mentioned in my last podcast the standards for water by the EPA http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/index.cfm. These are incomprehensible to me and probably most of us, therefore they are beyond any *practical use* of critical thinking. (Note that I emphasized "practical use") In fact, they have come under attack lately by experts and they may be changing, hopefully getting better. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/epa-proposes-stricter-controls-on-water-pollution/2011/04/27/AFI8Y8zE_story.html

When people do a search in a library catalog, they already have had a first-level of selection done for them, although they may not realize it. In a Google search, selection is also done, but algorithmically. So, if we say that critical thinking among individuals is "the" or "a" solution for libraries (I am thinking especially of selection here), we effectively absent expert librarians from the affair since we would not be providing our patrons a service they want, and we are throwing it on their shoulders. Google and its imitators will be more than happy to step into this breach. Thus, it would be a step toward oblivion for libraries. (And I guess I have to state the obvious, that this is all my opinion! But it is also not the opinion of someone who has never worked with any of these issues before but someone who has a certain amount of expertise)

And sorry, but "The statement that "none of us can take the time to learn everything to make deeply informed decisions" is a statement of absolute, 100% fact." is completely true in a practical sense. We must cooperate and rely on others for help, for information, for advice and many other needs.

Certainly, critical thinking is good and important for individuals, but it *cannot* be seen as any kind of solution for libraries. Insisting on it is a refusal to deal with the problem of people needing help with selection. If critical thinking is to occur, it will take place in the hearts and minds of individuals, but those same persons will nevertheless have no choice but to rely on all kinds of experts for all kinds of needs. This is nothing new, it is nothing bad, it is part of being human, and best put by John Donne in one of his Meditations. (I seem to keep returning to literature)
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as a manor of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Re: [NGC4LIB] Publishers and ebooks

Posting to NGC4LIB

On 05/11/2011 08:18 PM, john g marr wrote:
... we *must" take people as they are ... *None* of us can take the time to learn *everything* to make *deeply* informed decisions, there is simply *too much* to know and it would be an *unending* task; as a result, we would accomplish *nothing* at all.
There go those exaggerations, "fallacies" and "biases" again.

There are way too many people who say such things followed (implicitly or explicitly) by "So let me be the Great Decider for you!" Our society does not have to run amok creating as many products and customers and as little personal time as possible-- there are, or can be, alternatives.
This is an example of whenever one person says something in a forthright manner, the response is that they are uttering fallacies and biases. The moment a person makes a decision and takes a stand, they, by definition, can be accused of being biased. Of course they are. They have made a decision. The only other option is to never make a decision in the first place, or backtrack constantly. I remember as a boy reading a saying of my boyhood hero, Davy Crockett, who said, "I leave this for others when I am dead--make sure you are right, then go ahead." Think about something but sooner or later, you must make the best decision, be it right or wrong, and take a stand.

The statement that "none of us can take the time to learn everything to make deeply informed decisions" is a statement of absolute, 100% fact. There is no exaggeration at all. That is, unless you can demonstrate that it is indeed false but that will be very tough. Who is simultaneously expert in mechanics, dentistry, climate change, the local, national, and international budgets, international affairs, languages, literatures, cultures, plus has a deep understanding of how your corn was grown, harvested and canned, plus the best ways to massage a cat? To know all of this is beyond my strength--I freely confess it, and I rely on the knowledge and ethics of acknowledged experts, because I have no choice. If needed, I would certainly want to trust an experienced surgeon to cut me open instead of doing it myself. Since we are mortal, we all have limitations and they must be acknowledged. I see nothing wrong with this kind of situation. The human race has come up with "cooperation" to make up for it. One person specializes in one area, while another specializes in another area and they cooperate.

As I said before, I think people want help with selection and I think it is our responsibility help them. Saying that each person needs to take responsibility for their own "selection" using "critical thinking" could be construed as a dereliction of our jobs. When someone does a search on Google or Google Books or Scholar, or wherever, and gets hundreds or thousands or millions of results from who knows where, then doing critical thinking for each resource is impossible. That is also not an exaggeration.

The person looking at this is deciding what to do. Should they look at the top 5 critically? What will they be missing? The problem is not theirs--it is ours since we should somehow be helping them. And not by preaching but by doing. In this case--and in the case of much of information management today, the Google-type algorithms are effectively doing the selection, and that is quite frightening for society as a whole. I would much rather have acknowledged experts involved in some way.

As I said, there is just too much to know and to work with. This situation can be managed only in a cooperative way and I think libraries could be an important part of an innovative solution that could help everyone.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Re: [NGC4LIB] Publishers and ebooks

On 05/10/2011 11:06 PM, john g marr wrote:
On Tue, 10 May 2011, James Weinheimer wrote:
there is no chance for everyone to be trained to think in specific ways
That sentence contains several "fallacies" and "cognitive distortions and biases": 2 "sweeping generalizations", an "irrelevant conclusion", "begging the question", "straw man" conclusion, "all-or-nothing thinking", "mental filtering", "jumping to conclusions", "magnification" beyond objective reality, "framing", "hindsight bias", "confirmation bias", "hyperbolic discounting", "negativity bias", "Semmelweis reflex", "pessimism bias", "forward bias", "belief bias", etc.

Wow! That must be some kind of record. My phrase of 14 words, including "is" "in" "for" and a couple of "tos" contained no less than 17 fallacies and cognitive distortions and biases! Plus, I even merited an "etc." at the end! That is a truly amazing feat! I am really proud of myself! :-)

But seriously, while I am very sympathetic to critical thinking and fervently hope that many more people would dare to think critically, it's not a fix-all solution. The fallacy applying this idea to the case of the traditional library, is that everybody else must change, and change in some highly specific ways, rather than change ourselves; the problems of which are staring us in the face. At some point, sooner or later, (I think many are doing this now) we must look at it from another point of view and declare,
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves ...."
There is truly only so much that a person can do and what we can expect from others.

The tools must adapt to fit the changing environment and for that to happen, we are the ones who must change first. Believing the answer is that everyone must begin to think critically is simply not realistic in any way, as history has shown us time and time again. Each person has different modes of thinking: some are deeply religious, others are not. Some are moved by art and music, for others, it leaves them cold. Some are conservative in their outlook while others revel in constant novelty. Some believe that science and its methods can resolve any issue, others think quite differently. Each individual takes all kinds of things for granted based on their own special natures, the culture they were raised in, and the friends and mentors they have chosen. No one of these people are any more right or any better than any other, but they show how rich and diverse the human community is.

Certainly you can train people to do some things more or less the same so that all can function in society, such as driving a car or making change but getting them to think in certain ways is far more difficult. In the main, we must take people as they are, and appreciate their differences.

None of us can take the time to learn everything to make deeply informed decisions, there is simply too much to know and it would be an unending task; as a result, we would accomplish nothing at all. For instance, I am not any kind of expert in climate science, yet I "believe" that the environment is changing on a more or less permanent basis. Have I been through all of the data? No, I have neither the time nor the inclination. I also believe in relativity and many other concepts that I do not have a clue about but I trust the judgments of the majority of experts, just as I place my trust in my plumber or my dentist or my mechanic. Different people trust different experts. For example, many years ago a seismologist apparently predicted a major earthquake will happen in Rome today (or did he?). The Colosseum will fall and people will die. Lots of people have left Rome, or at least are staying at home
to be with their families. Everybody makes their own decisions and I am ignoring it, but who knows? The guy was right before apparently. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13354988 A person cannot be master of all things and must take at least some things for granted.

This is why society has established procedures such as adherence to standards, peer-review and all kinds of--I'll call them "fail-safes"--for the interested citizen. I know a lot about some things and practically nothing about others. In this, I am not unique at all. I believe the world's "expertise" should be mustered in some fashion to help others. Librarians can be a major part of such an endeavor. Some of my last podcast was precisely about this.

And if some want to ignore it all, they can.