Posting to Autocat
I don’t want everybody to end up crying into their beer(!) over the end of the library field. It is not the end at all, but the field must evolve into something different. From this point in time, it is impossible to foresee how much it will change and in what directions. Some individuals approach the coming changes with fear but others meet it with excitement and exhilaration, along with the fear. Unfortunately, the changes are occurring during the time of economic distress and that makes it more complex to adapt but not impossible.
I think catalogers should take the current situation very seriously and acknowledge that the usefulness of what we make is being questioned in many quarters in many ways. Catalogers should do their utmost to see matters from *those quarters*, that is, from non-librarian, non-cataloger points of view. I don’t think anything is inevitable, but people must see that the public (i.e. the people who use our catalogs, what they expect, and our collections) are changing: what they want and need. And what they expect. Here is an example. A report came out recently from Sage, and the announcement is called, “Providing evidence of value remains an elusive goal for academic libraries”
http://sageconnection.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/providing-evidence-of-value-remains-an-elusive-goal-for-academic-libraries/. It was written there “Findings from three geographic areas, the United States, United Kingdom and Scandinavia, indicated that there is no systematic evidence of the value of academic libraries for teaching and research staff.”
This represents a challenge. It is evidence that the current situation needs to change. I don’t know if I agree that the suggestions for change offered by the authors of the report represents real change or not, but their recommendations are still good. Librarians need to keep their minds open to all kinds of complaints and suggestions, and take them to heart, even if they wind up being hurt or just don’t like what they hear.
Once we discover what the public wants, we then have to try as best we can to supply what they want and need. It will be work, and some may find out some things that are rather unpleasant, but it is absolutely necessary.
But I keep forgetting: the FRBR and RDA initiatives have done decades worth of in-depth research on the public, examining what the public wants, how those wants are changing and how to fit those changing wants into an ever-changing technological landscape. And they have proven that the basic needs of the public are and will be fulfilled by the immutable laws of the FRBR user tasks, which are always and forever. So everybody will be OK!