Monday, August 27, 2012

Re: Detailed critique of RDA

Posting to Autocat

On 27/08/2012 16:02, Robert Mead-Donaldson wrote:
<snip>
I just read through the FRBR url you included in your post...    well thought out, intense, but aimed at scholars more than the general reading public, to my way of thinking.

When I used to introduce films for our library sponsered classic films series here at FIU,  (maybe between 75-80 films?)  I would spend as much time as I could, reading everything about the movie the audience was about to watch.

My first introduction was A Night At The Opera, 1935.     I read every Marx Bros. book in the  library, four of them, read every review, listened to Leonard Maltin's Laserdisc commentary, which by the way was all one take, following the running time of the film on the disc,  and watched the film two or three times.  ...   Not much Internet at that time, but I digress.
Basically my intro was about what was important about the film, and the Marx Brothers at that time,  Paramount, the jump to MGM,  the writers (there were like several setse sets of writers, rewriting, all at the same time...!   and generally the whole thing about the film,  what was interesting, the backstory, whose idea, Thalberg's influence....I went on and on,   too long, like fifteen minutes.

If I go to the catalog, it's for either history, or a foreign novel of some kind, and not classic lit.   The present cataloging rules suit me just fine...
</snip>
I think there are plenty of places where the rules can be changed. As only one example, RI 26.3A3, the rules for creating cross-references for inverted forms of corporate bodies. (https://sites.google.com/site/opencatalogingrules/26-3a3-different-forms-of-the-name), the example:
111 IBM Scientific Computing Symposium on Environmental Sciences (1966 : Yorktown Heights, N.Y.)
411 Scientific Computing Symposium on Environmental Sciences, IBM
411 Symposium on Environmental Sciences, IBM Scientific Computing

I suspect the inverted cross references are no longer very useful in a keyword environment although they were highly important in a printed environment. Therefore, this seems to be a rule for cards to be filed in an alphabetical arrangement. It would be interesting to discover if these kinds of references really are necessary today and why. But on the other hand, I also suspect that for today's world it would be good to add a reference somewhere, so that the acronym IBM is actually typed out (here is an abbreviation that can have real consequences for people finding it in a keyword environment). There are scads of examples like this, and I think other approaches to update the rules could be attempted.

At the same time, I think it is of utmost importance to make sure that we do not make our current records obsolete. Library databases are different from other databases and I don't know if many IT people understand this fact. So for instance, with many business databases, the information from before 5 or 10 years ago is of much less importance so if this information isn't found in a search, it's not that big of a deal. Many times the earlier information is archived in a completely different database or just compressed for downloading as a zip file.

This would not work with library catalogs; you would end up destroying the catalog and along with it, access into the library collection it describes. In library catalogs, the records made 50 years ago (and the resources they describe) are just as important as what is made today, just as in 50 years in the future, the records made today will be just important as any made at that time. With a library catalog, you can't just say, "Well, that's the legacy data so let's just archive it and move on." because in libraries, the so-called "legacy data" represents your entire value! If you archive 50 years' worth of records, you make 50 years of your collection inaccessible. And that may be the best part of your collection.

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