Re: [ACAT] RDA/FRBR buy in

Posting to Autocat

On 26/07/2012 22:58, Aaron Kuperman wrote:

RDA is coming out at a bad time economically, and much of its advanced functionality will require a new communications format (replacing MARC) and totally new OPAC’s. AACR2 has clearly failed, so much that many customers (users) are switching to keyword internet searching and serious thought is being given to liquidiating cataloging.

RDA is coming out at a truly bad time and a new format is critical. But I don’t see how it is that AACR2 has clearly failed, although I admit the *catalog itself* clearly has. This is because it is still designed to function as a card catalog and the authority files–so necessary for comprehensibility–don’t work. The subject heading strings, and the left-handed text browse mechanisms have become as obsolete in the online environment as a stone axe has in our modern world. The catalog has to be rethought from scratch, and should have been rethought over a decade ago.

But even then, assuming for the moment that the cataloging rules of AACR2 have been a failure, it remains to be shown how the cataloging rules of RDA are better designed to provide the public with what it wants–unless we are to make the additional assumption that the public wants the FRBR structures, *and* that the current facet approach in the newest catalogs is inadequate for people. This winds up stretching the assumptions so far that they snap, and requires some form of evidence.

After RDA is implemented, the public will see nothing different except the more perceptive may notice some inconsistencies in how a few words display (not “cm” however, which is for some unfathomable reason that I do not care to fathom, a symbol instead of an abbreviation! Ha! Ha!) but the catalogs will work precisely the same so people will experience the same problems.

Eventually, after much more work, much more expense, full FRBR can be implemented that will allow the public to navigate the WEMI almost as easily and simply as they can today with faceted catalogs. Of course, since less than 20% of all resources have more than one manifestation, it won’t be noticed that often anyway, plus what is the relevance that the WEMI kind of structure has for the becoming-weirder-and-weirder digital resources? Has anybody seen a second edition of a website where the first edition is still around? I am sure there are some, because you can find almost anything on the web, no matter how bizarre, but how many times does it happen? There are different expressions (web pages in different languages, although some versions are normally more complete than others) but no manifestations, that is, unless we want to start thinking about making separate manifestation records for each capture of a site in the Internet Archive, which really are different manifestations. The White House site currently has 2686 captures in the Internet Archive If somebody wants to do this as a project, you can count me out!

With RDA, we see standards go down: access points go down, “cataloger judgment” goes up, while the complexity of creating the records increases since there is the additional level of WEMI to figure out–even when there is only a single manifestation.

Going with RDA makes perfect sense to me!