Thursday, September 27, 2012

Re: [ACAT] Selection (Was: LCSH needed: Presidential expenditures)

Posting to Autocat

On 24/09/2012 23:20, Brian Briscoe wrote:
<snip>
On Mon, Sep 24, 2012 at 3:42 PM, James Weinheimer :
"the problems today are not so much that a "controversial" resource is difficult to get, but that it is incredibly easy to get--perhaps too easy. I suggest that the traditional view of library selection needs to change to provide some level of "trust" or "reliability" in some sort of way".
So you are saying we should censor. That we, as librarians, are so wise that we can decide what information seekers should and should not see?
</snip>
You raise a difficult point, but of course library selectors make these decisions every, single day. We all know that if something is found only through searching a remote catalog and is available only through ILL, which may take quite a bit of time, people will very often go with what is available quickly and easily. Therefore, what a selector acquires for a collection, all with a limited budget and limited space, is critical. Many users have trouble with this and consider it to be akin to censorship when it is actually more a matter of lack of resources.

But much of the library's collection policies, and even internal management, has been based on the premises of scarcity of information and lack of resources. Today with the web, at least some of those premises no longer hold true. The problem for a searcher today is not that they cannot find enough information--it's that they are overwhelmed with it and they can't make a decent choice from everything out there "competing for their eyeballs". I personally believe that spam will become much worse than it is now, and that Google-type algorithms will eventually be defeated.

What can be done? I think it is one of the most important questions facing libraries today (how to make the collection more relevant to the patrons) and will require the entire library--not just selectors or reference or cataloging or any single department--but the entire library to solve.

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