Thursday, July 26, 2012

Re: When 95% digitized, do we still need cataloging?

Posting to Autocat
On 25/07/2012 16:23, Li, Yue wrote:
When 95% digitized, do we still need cataloging?
I remembered another consideration that I neglected in my previous reply: in the future, how will people interact with the metadata (catalog) records? My papers at Oslo and Anaheim discuss this. We see two fundamentally different ways of how people "interact" with the metadata records with the Internet Archive and Google Books.

Concerning individual items, in the Internet Archive, people search the metadata records (I do not believe you are searching the full-text there), see the metadata records and then get to the item. This is how it works in libraries. HathiTrust works the same way except I believe you are also searching the full-text, but you go into the metadata record before going into the full-text itself. In Google Books however, you search the full-text and the metadata records, but you go into the item immediately. If you want to see the metadata record you can, but it is out of the way and people I have met do not even know about the metadata records in Google Books.

So, the metadata record can be front and center, or it can remain behind the scenes. There are massive amounts of metadata in Google, Yahoo and other search engines, but it remains behind the scenes. As people become more and more used to going directly into the actual resources, interposing the metadata record may seem increasingly strange. Some of the undergraduates I have worked with were already having troubles understanding the relationship between the online catalog and the library's collection and I don't think they were stupid. Expectations and perceptions are changing very quickly and interacting with "summary records" (as I called them) is becoming unusual for people.

It is human nature to devalue what you do not see; this is often why, e.g. sewer lines are ignored until they literally crumble, while if the problem is something everyone talks about continually and is in your face, e.g. potholes in the roads, these tend to be fixed more quickly. The importance people place on metadata/catalog records, and thus whether it is considered necessary or not, could be related to how much people actually will see them--or don't see them--in the future.

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