Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Re: [ACAT] "What Does It Mean To Be Literate in the Age of Google?"

Posting to Autocat

On 29/05/2012 19:19, Kevin M Randall wrote:
<snip>
I guess we'll just have to keep waiting for your summary, because all I could find in the blog post you referenced is *yet another* restatement of the problem you're talking about, with no concrete suggestions at all. Not only that, I could find no *abstract* suggestions, either--unless you mean "provid[ing] links to 'reliable' resources" to be an actual suggestion.
</snip>

Well, I guess so, although I seem to remember some specific suggestions in the paper at Oslo at least. In fact, I even made a special web page as a prototype. That's a lot more than many have done.

Still, one of the first things to do is admit that the problems will not be fixed by changing cataloging rules or cataloging formats. It is my stance (as I have stated over and over) that the *library* is endangered and it is only the *library* that can respond: not catalogers, not reference librarians, not selectors--these are all bureaucratic tasks based primarily on 19th and 20th century library departments stemming from workflows--but *librarians* are the only ones who can respond. Therefore, all must expand their horizons.

So long as people insist on pretending that FRBR provides anything that the public wants and needs (without demonstrating it), and that RDA is worthwhile paying for and implementing without a business case (and I think we all know that implementing FRBR will be even more expensive), it will be impossible to move forward. As I wrote in my paper in Oslo, *nobody knows* the way forward now. Nobody. That includes me so unfortunately, I cannot play the role of Mr. Fix It.

We need to focus on selection, description and organization, reference, access of materials in the information available to the *patrons* and not only in our own local collections. I personally believe that the #1 task that will have the most public impact is selection but that would overwhelm cataloging. What would reference do? This means entirely new solutions. A lot of the solutions will be determined by answering uncomfortable questions, such as: what is the purpose of the local catalog today? I'm not sure what it is, but somehow it must work with the tools that the Google guy mentioned. Otherwise, librarians--especially catalogers--are history.

But here is one concrete suggestion: get rid of the job title "cataloger". Although it pains me to mention it and I think it is a fine job title, I fear that in the popular mind it recalls days long past and therefore, is the kiss of death. 

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