Thursday, February 16, 2012

Re: The good enough record

Posting to Autocat

On 16/02/2012 18:07, Williams, Ann wrote:
<snip>
Directors have to be careful when getting advice they may want to hear from vendors and consultants. The truth is "good enough" for your basic OPAC and typical patron probably won't be good enough for future discovery tools/portals/overlays that have extensive filtering capabilities, not to mention FRBR when you'll want to link records. But perhaps it will be easier for libraries to pay for upgrading records later rather than pay staff now in this economic environment (different budget lines). The point is, the "good enough" records will probably have to be upgraded, unless your focus is only on the latest materials. For now, libraries can make cost-effective use of batch upgrade and Bib. Notification provided by OCLC, but if too many libraries cut back on upgrading these OCLC records, or even drop OCLC, the wait for better than "good enough" OCLC records may not be good. Enough.
</snip>

I see the problem that "good enough" means different things to different people. It has seemed to me that judging from what I received from some agencies, "good enough" meant anything that did *not* crash my catalog and cause smoke to come streaming out of my monitor.

There have always been problems with the very real issues of bibliographic standards and enforcement. If the lousy quality of some bibliographic records were to be transferred into an equivalent lousy quality in cans of corn, it would require an immediate recall of all the cans along with public service announcements, investigations and perhaps prosecutions. Library-bibliographic standards have never wanted to adhere to such standards as those in the food industry.

Perhaps that level of enforcement really is unnecessary but it seems reasonable that there should be at least some level of enforcement. We are supposed to be professionals, after all. I suspect this may be a contributing factor in the general non- or at least under-appreciation of our catalog records among non-catalogers.

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