Friday, March 30, 2012

Re: [ACAT] New rule implementation

Posting to Autocat

Before I reply more specifically, I disputed a statement that RDA is a major step into the future. I agree that AACR2 does not deal with many of these issues, but neither does RDA. As a result, RDA is not this wonderful step into the future. Specific replies below.

On 29/03/2012 19:37, Kevin M Randall wrote:
There is nothing inherent in the WEMI model that requires separate records for works and expressions. Now, one could very well make the argument that the separate records would allow for much greater processing efficiency. But even having separate records does not necessarily require more work on the part of the cataloger, if the systems are designed for optimal efficiency. Instead of arguing against something that has the potential to greatly increase workflow and user discovery of resources, we should be putting effort into creating better tools. The "sad results" that I see right now are trying to hang on to our existing way of creating metadata using MARC syntax and AACR2 data definitions and expecting that by using those same methods we'll be able to increase efficiency and have more powerful resource discovery.

That is news to me. From everything I have seen, the data model is based on entities, and the entities are based on URIs. Entities in turn have specific attributes. This is how entity-relationship structures work. I have repeatedly tried to point out that in the traditional catalog, the purpose of the so-called work or expression was *only* for arranging the cards (or unit records, or manifestations, or editions, whatever you want to call it). Today, we would call that a "relationship", or as I prefer to think of it, as a "query". The traditional catalog had meaning due to the *arrangement* of the records that described individual resources. FRBR took a different route and began on completely different assumptions.

All this is theoretical, but I think it shows that the FRBR structure itself should not be accepted without some kind of discussion. Aside from that though, if everything can be handled without individual URIs (i.e. records) for works and expressions, if there are to be entities, the information in the FRBR-entity records must be somewhere. Everything could be held within the individual manifestation records, that can be done, I have no doubt, but we have essentially the same structure as we have today. Perhaps the work, expression *and* manifestation could be held in the item records, but that seems to be a step beyond.
At the same time, RDA pretends that a website, whose title can change constantly and without any notice, can be dealt with in the same way as a physical item, that is: manually. Of course this penchant of virtual resources for change extends to each part of the record. How are catalogers supposed to deal with such incredible maintenance?
And in this AACR2 is better than RDA how?
Not at all. This is part of the argument that RDA is not an advance over AACR2.

Our authority structures have not worked ever since the computerized catalog was introduced, especially when keyword searching was added. So, our cross-references, along with the subject-subdivision method of browsing that worked fairly well in the card catalog, broke down completely. I think this would possibly be the most promising area for work since our subjects provide something found nowhere else in the world. But I have discussed that elsewhere.
This has always been a problem but has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with AACR2 vs. RDA. To say that we shouldn't bother improving the metadata because most systems aren't properly using the existing metadata doesn't make any sense. If we wait for the perfect system to use our current metadata, we'll never get anywhere. We need to do *both* things (improve discovery layers *and* improve metadata).
Improving metadata by retyping abbreviations is certainly a highly debatable point and puts the question to the RDA/FRBR mantra that they are not about display.

I am saying that if catalog departments are supposed to devote substantial amounts of their resources to solving "problems", we should be solving problems that make a difference to the public instead of to ourselves. This means that we have to demonstrate that our labor and expense is worthwhile to the public. This has *never, ever* been done. I emphasize never, ever. This is part of making a decent business case, which RDA steadfastly refuses to do. RDA prefers to promise a "radiant future" that may come about, but don't blame people if their faith has completely evaporated. I don't think it's so "radiant" anyway.
RDA is also silent about how to work with other databases out there, such as the IMDB. In fact, the rules call for us to duplicate the work in the IMDB and possibly, other databases.
RDA helps us define the metadata, with the idea that we should be able to reduce or eliminate duplicate work. RDA is designed to allow for taking in and repurposing existing metadata, or (even better) linking to existing metadata.
More promises and vague theories. Why is RDA being implemented with no business case? Has anybody seriously answered that? Without any answer, people can only come up with their own theories.

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