Saturday, August 11, 2012

Re: [ACAT] [RANT] : on cataloguers and IT people : [was] : RDA questions from librarians at small libraries

Posting to Autocat

On 03/08/2012 19:17, MULLEN Allen wrote:
<snip>
Searching a library catalog involves an immediate experience to locate resources for use.  While it may occasionally be a lengthy deliberate process, it is almost always intended to be a quick FISO task.  Deciphering health plans and insurance policies is a different process altogether.
</snip>
Being in Italy, I don't have to worry so much about deciphering health plans and insurance policies, but I would like to take a real example with a real book.

I am reading an article in Lapham's Quarterly "Very superstitious" http://www.laphamsquarterly.org/essays/very-superstitious.php and the author mentions "The Golden Bough" by Sir James Frazer. As is my habit, I immediately look to see if I can get it anywhere.

My number one place to look is always the Internet Archive, but I also always check Worldcat, so I check in Worldcat and see that there are 16 ebooks. One is in Project Gutenberg, labelled "Fiction", but that may be OK. Still, in the Internet Archive, I find 44 results http://archive.org/search.php?query=golden%20bough%20frazer. It is a multivolume work, but obviously, it is in different versions in different number of volumes, e.g. http://archive.org/stream/TheGoldenBough-Part1-TheMagicArtAndTheEvolutionOfKingsVol.1/GoldenBough-Part1-TheMagicArt1#page/n3/mode/2up (2 volumes) but it is confusing since this other claims to be volume 12 http://archive.org/stream/goldenboughstudy12fraz#page/n7/mode/2up.

Something is weird here, and I don't have the time to research it right now, although because of the article in Lapham's Quarterly, I am interested in what Fraser wrote.

I think that this may happen all the time, that is if people know to search Google Books or the Internet Archive or Gallica or any of the other wonderful sites available to them at the click of a button. I don't believe I am all that strange since to me, I don't care about v. or p. or et al. or whatever, I just want to know what is available to me right now. Can anybody out there maintain--with a straight face--that people care more about a few abbreviations, as opposed to what they can actually access right now? If you maintain that people need to understand the abbreviations as opposed to knowing what is available in the Internet Archive, please tell me why! Inquiring minds want to know!

I love the materials in the Internet Archive but they are in a highly chaotic state. Since I personally know so much about bibliography and publication practices, I can work my way through it all if I care enough (I may in this case because it seems worth my effort) but people who do not understand will be left in a state of complete confusion.

Correcting this and making the chaotic understandable is what catalogers do. How can catalogers help the public find out what is really available to them when they are looking for The Golden Bough, and do it as efficiently as possible? Is pointing to Project Gutenberg enough? Why? That is the task that is facing us.

Still, I guess that typing out abbreviations (which can be "corrected" with a few lines of code) or reducing the number of authors is much more important to the public than anything else! At least that is easier for catalogers than anything else!

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