Posting to RDA-L
On 22/02/2012 23:34, Jonathan Rochkind wrote:
On 2/22/2012 5:25 PM, James Weinheimer wrote:
This is why I mentioned in my paper in Buenos Aires the NPTEL free online courses that lots of people would really and truly find useful. There are so many of these sorts of resources that it is absolutely astounding! Unfortunately (I am definitely a book lover!) these are some of the directions I think we will have to take if we are to make a real difference to the public.
So wait, if I understand right, you’re arguing that to ‘make a real difference to the public’, we should stop caring about bibliographic metadata at all, and focus on other things that have nothing to do with maintaining bibliographic metadata?
I’m not sure you are on the right list. If that’s your opinion, then maybe leave discussions of how to control bibliographic metadata to those who do think it’s important, and go work on and discuss those other things you think are important instead, in forums and communities dedicated to these other things?
Alternately, maybe I’m misunderstanding, and you’re saying it is important to keep working on bibliographic metadata, but we should be focusing on “interoperating with what’s already there.” I am not sure, then, what reasons you think this hasn’t already happened, why aren’t we already interoperating with what’s already there? (And we are to some extent, but clearly not enough, agreed). Many of us think it’s because of the nature of our bibliographic metadata, and that’s what we’re discussing here. But you think it’s…. something else? If you think all you need to do is “throw this to the IT people”, and they can just fix it if only someone with power over these “IT people” told them to, I am so very confident you will find yourself disappointed, this is inherently a metadata problem. But again, if that’s what you think, that it’s got nothing to do with our metadata control, I would suggest that a listserv about metadata control may not be the best place to discuss whatever are these other things you are concerned about.
I’m not even really sure what your advocating _for_, to be honest James. I understand that you think everything anyone else suggests on this list is a bad idea, but I don’t understand what you’re suggesting instead and if it’s got anything to do with bibliographic metadata control.
Certainly, I think that bibliographic metadata is important. This is what my papers have been about and practically all of my postings. My concern is believing that any kind of real solutions will come through changes in bibliographic metadata: by making it into FRBR, or RDF triples, or entering the Semantic Web, or “improving” the quality. Of course, our metadata needs to change in all kinds of ways, I have stated this many time. But that in itself, will solve very few of the challenges facing libraries.
Today, libraries as a whole are under threat. This is not because of metadata problems but due to changes in the technological environment, and was greatly exacerbated by the economic crisis. It is my belief that this threat to libraries as a whole can be met only by libraries working as a whole. This means that the different library departments (selection, cataloging, reference, IT, etc.) must really and truly work together to create tools that are relevant to today’s patrons. I think it’s probably a good idea to add in the patrons, too. Without changes in selection policies, putting our cataloging records in different environments will do little good, while people need just as much help as ever to find useful resources that are also reliable.
Based on my own experience, more than anything else, the public wants good, solid selection of reliable materials so that they don’t have to waste their time sorting out the “junk”. This holds for everyone I have met, from students to scholars. (Among the public, some tend to question whether librarians should be involved in this at all, but done through various options with Web2.0 tools. This is a completely different topic)
I also think that library tools should tell what is *really* and *truly* available to the public. So, if I want a copy of Huck Finn and I am in Rome, it is of little use to me to know that there are 20 copies in different editions available on the shelves in Albany, New York. But, it is important for the people in Albany and Rome to know that there are all kinds of options in the Internet Archive. And Google Books, and many other places on the web.
This is why I pointed out that fabulous course on Broadband networks available in NPTEL in my paper in Buenos Aires. I have no doubt that people want to know about those online courses, which may actually make a difference in their lives, and want this online course even more than the newest book on Abraham Lincoln. There are zillions of these courses online. There are also tons of videos about all kinds of topics that are of interest to people. In the online CSPAN, there are hundreds of videos where authors talk about their books and have to answer some pointed questions. Many times, these are more interesting than the books themselves. But there are also discussions on policy issues on all topics (not just the ho-hum Congressional speeches). But it’s not the only site; there are so many books and videos and articles from think tanks and it goes on and on and on.
These are vital materials, and the public clearly wants them. This has little to do immediately with bibliographic metadata but with selection policies. However, if those materials get selected, then cataloging gets swamped. And then how does reference deal with it?
What is the solution to this? As I said before: I don’t know. Nobody does. But it is clear that the old methods won’t work any more. Certainly, massaging our current metadata and putting it into Linked Data may help somewhat but is clearly only a part of any solution. Perhaps a small part. The entire library must cooperate to come up with a solution. And I hope, this will include the meaningful input of our patrons, who can tell us what they really want. Until libraries can come up with an entire solution, please forgive me if I remain skeptical.
Finally, if departments within individual libraries can come together and cooperate, perhaps the library community as a whole really can come together to offer a solution. Including internationally. How would that happen? Once again, I don’t know, although I have some basic ideas. Still, somebody has to describe the problem before a solution can be found.
In the meantime we shouldn’t sit around twiddling our thumbs; so sure: let’s put our records into the semantic web, but I don’t know how much difference that on its own will really make. That’s why I think we should do it in the quickest, easiest, and cheapest way. See if it really does make a difference, and if it does, then libraries can decide to devote more resources to it.
Seeing the complexity of the problem can be either disheartening or exhilarating. It depends on how much someone likes a challenge!
But I agree, this is probably the wrong list to discuss these matters. I don’t know of such a list, and this discussion arose through debating points.
My sincerest pardons to all.