Sunday, July 8, 2012

Re: [ACAT] Priorities (was: NOW he dies!)

Posting to Autocat

On 07/07/2012 19:31, Brenndorfer, Thomas wrote:
J. McRee Elrod wrote:
James asked:
.. Which would we prefer: that someone is paid to add death dates to the records, or to add links to materials that are online ...
These are not mutually exclusive! What we are wasting money on are new rules and MARC replacement.
 But these are not mutually exclusive! It's easier to work with data in industry formats like dates in ISO format for the purposes of information exchange, and building out from there such as finding more efficient ways to add dates to access points. And it's easier at the outset to consider linking to material as including the idea of linking data about that material, which is what the MARC replacement is about.
Sorry, but they are exclusive. There is only a finite amount of cataloger time, and people can do only so much. Since there are no plans that I know of, of hiring entire battalions of new catalogers, and since RDA is not a simplification of their work, and there is no focus on finding ways to make technology eliminate part of their work (I'll elaborate on this point), there are limits being reached. Catalogers are expected to add death dates instead of some of the options I have mentioned, but there are lots more options besides. I do not recall any research done on the public that showed that they preferred catalogers spending their time adding death dates instead of adding something else.

Thomas points out some excellent options that actually could allow technology to eliminate, or at least help, with part of a cataloger's work. Naturally, adding links is a method and not a solution as I tried to point out in my podcast on Linked Data ( There are still a million difficulties with that. Even then, it is unclear whether putting in links will make the everyday work of a cataloger, that is, actually creating a record, any easier than it is right now. In a linked data universe, we say that copy cataloging will go up 1000 fold, but we have to remember that the copy will be some of the lousiest we have ever seen.

Record and catalog maintenance may become easier, or perhaps not. At this point, it is all conjecture. But at a more basic level, to simply believe that entering the linked data universe, which has no real shared standards for the data (not the computer coding where there are standards), will not result in chaos, seems to me to be assuming far too much at this time.

But I agree: step #1, which really should have been step #1 before changing any cataloging rules, is to convert the format into something more modern and flexible. After there are some years of experience in the linked data universe, there may at last be enough information to determine what directions library metadata should take.

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