Thursday, January 26, 2012

Re: Harvard Technical Services layoffs

Posting to Autocat

On 1/25/2012 6:44 PM, Billie Hackney wrote:
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I have been surprised that no one has yet remarked on the articles about Technical Services areas at Harvard being targeted for layoff. Does anyone have any further information?

Feral Librarian: "What's Happening at Harvard?" (Jan. 19) Link: http://chrisbourg.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/whats-happening-at-harvard/

LJ article: "After Furor, Harvard Library Spokesperson says 'inaccurate' that all staff will have to reapply" (Jan. 19) Link: http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2012/01/academic-libraries/after-furor-harvard-library-spokesperson-says-inaccurate-that-all-staff-will-have-to-reapply/

Article in The Crimson: No Layoffs for Harvard Libraries, yesterday: Link: http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2012/1/24/Harvard-no-layoffs-library-HUCTW-SLAM-Labor/
</snip>
I would like to add another link to these, in the Daily Kos, no less: "The Great Librarian Massacre of 2012": a cataloging librarian's view
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/01/20/1056635/-The-Great-Librarian-Massacre-of-2012:-a-cataloging-librarians-view

The news about Harvard shows that even the greatest libraries are unable to escape the changes that the rest of the information world is experiencing.

For my own opinion, this news makes me question once again, whether instituting RDA is such a great idea, especially in the current climate. The costs and general disruption will have serious impacts on catalogers, on other librarians and on libraries in general, from the smallest to the largest, and these impacts should not at all be discounted or ignored. When faced with fundamental problems of just maintaining current services, how are cataloging managers supposed to argue for the nebulous "advantages" we will supposedly get from RDA? What advantages will the manager be able to point to? Not additional copy records, not records that are simpler for catalogers to create, nor a catalog that is easier for the public to use. What is the responsible decision?

While I admit that there are immense problems with traditional library cataloging, and have discussed them at some length in previous posts, I still do not see how RDA solves any of them. "Cataloging reconsidered" does offer many solutions to problems of information management and retrieval--this I sincerely believe, and there should be an important place at the "solutions table" for catalogers but it will take some radical re-thinking for all involved.

It is hard to say how all of this will turn out.

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