Monday, August 27, 2012

Re: [ACAT] Detailed critique of RDA

Posting to Autocat

On 26/08/2012 16:59, Aaron Kuperman wrote:
<snip>
While the time of RDA couldn't be worse (something about starting a new anything during what optimists call the "Great Recession"), and using RDA with MARC is a classic "kludge" - RDA's potential grows on you as you get to know it. There are fantastic things we can do with the various "relationships" that aren't possible using AACR and MARC (albeit many of those won't be obvious until the post-MARC communications format is in use). IF RDA can be successfully implemented, it will be a radical change for the better.
</snip>
This is another of the many assumptions of FRBR that has yet to be questioned. The FRBR relationships are found under http://archive.ifla.org/VII/s13/frbr/frbr_current5.htm and I see nothing substantially new from what the catalog provides now. The links will still be there just as they are now, except that the relationships will be defined more specifically than as a simple added entry: e.g. instead of the 7xx$a$t added entry, there will be something like <isImitationOf>, or perhaps <isTravestyOf>. This would work as well for "hasPart" or "hasSummarization" and so on.

One of the biggest problems with implementing this is the same problem as many others: legacy data. Our current records don't have all of these relationships specifically in them (although there are some specific relationships, especially with serials) so everyone will be looking at a huge retrospective conversion problem because, for instance, Shakespeare's Hamlet may have lots of parodies (perhaps) but they have always been entered as simple added entries. Only the new records will get the "isParodyOf".

Perhaps the public really wants these specific relationships, but once again, nobody knows. Is it worthwhile to enter into the greater complexity of adding these more specific relationships? If these relationships are implemented, I think it will be much more important than typing out abbreviations so it seems to me that there would absolutely have to be a retrospective conversion project since too much would be missed otherwise (people who click on "Has Parodies" would never find all parodies of Hamlet because any earlier records will have only a generic added entry link). As a result, the catalog would become more confusing than ever before. (I mean, who really cares if somebody sees [s.l.] or [et al.]? But if I click on "parodies", I had better find them all.)

Now I ask the question again: is this the best use of cataloger resources? Setting aside for the moment the question of costs for implementation and recon, as well as the poor economic climate, somebody should be asking: would this be providing the public with what they want, as opposed to other work we can do, such as increase productivity? Once again, no one knows because nobody has ever done the research on what the public wants, and we are left staring at a giant question mark.

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