Saturday, June 23, 2012

Re: [ACAT] Tell all your associates, don't go to library school.

Posting to Autocat

On 22/06/2012 14:27, Roe,Kevin wrote:
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I wonder if part of the reason for the neglect, as it were, of the importance of the study of cataloging in schools today is the fact that most people view shared cataloging as the answer. After all, if we can get catalog records from vendors, why do we need someone on staff to essentially redo the work? Catalogers are akin to telephone operators in some ways. We direct dial now, and use the operator for special needs only. And in libraries, we get our records from vendors and simply assume they are fine (and many are...)

Never mind the fact the errors abound in shared cataloging. Records are only as good as the person who created them, and I've seen some really bad ones in my career. That is why we still have a full-time degreed cataloger on staff that looks at every record we add to our catalog, and I would put our records up against anyone's.

I agree with Mike when he states that making cataloging an option is wrong. The fact is that it will continue to become less prevalent in library schools until error-prone records that exist actually start to affect the research being done, both complex and simple. We have, sadly, become "Googleized" and have come to rely on Wikipedia as the go-to encyclopedia of choice for so many. A sad turn, indeed.
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One of the real problems is that unfortunately, libraries and catalogers had been more or less resting on their laurels for quite some time and were blindsided by the full-text search engines. Here was something that they had never before encountered: real, genuine competition. It gave cataloging a solid whack to the head and they have never really recovered. Unfortunately, the response was the traditional, knee-jerk one to come up with new cataloging rules(?!), instead of doing the research to find out what the public wanted and to redesign the catalog into something that the research showed people would want. The value of RDA and FRBR have never proven but it is the direction that so-called "forward-looking" catalogers are supposed to go in, while we are all supposed to just hold our breath and cross our fingers, hoping everything will turn out OK.

On the other hand, our competitors, the full-text search engines, are not holding their breath. They are doing massive amounts of research to find out what people want. And they will give it to them.

For years, nobody questioned the need for cataloging but now almost everyone is questioning its value and catalogers have yet to demonstrate the advantages. And to demonstrate it to people who don't understand much at all. While I think we can demonstrate its value and much more besides, our current catalogs are just past it, so we need research projects, and research projects entail costs, which means a budget line, and that is difficult to get in today's financial climate....

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