Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Re: [RDA-L] Cataloging Matters No. 16

Posting to RDA-L

On 25/09/2012 15:33, Brenndorfer, Thomas wrote:
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In your case of 70% success on a conversion project, you also indicated that this was also purely an automated conversion. I'm not under any such illusions-- to get to 100% requires many reports on the data, and the listing of all missing or incomplete fields, and that requires manual intervention.

I would say there is currently less access today than what is promised in AACR2 cataloging. Part of that is the transfer of the traditional catalog card format to an online catalog. Several good examples: name-title headings chopped up and scattered over different indexes; unpredictable hyperlinks on controlled access points (which could point to a keyword search, a browse search, or a record summary list-- all compromises in some way); keyword searching missing authority references; much data locked away in free-text notes rather than controlled vocabulary; repeated work and expression data across multiple bibliographic records, where there is inconsistency in the application of that data (inconsistent subject headings and other work related data for the same work).
</snip>
I agree with this. I have mentioned over and over that transferring the card catalog into the OPAC didn't work very well (that was not the original idea of computerization of the catalog records anyway), and especially when keyword was tacked onto the OPAC.  I have given many examples.

But the two little words you bring up: "manual intervention" hold a huge unknown and will cost money. Probably lots of money. Money is what libraries do not have. Many libraries can barely justify paying for subscriptions to the RDA rules (and many can't justify that either).

All this is part of the necessity of making a business case. Here we are faced with a dilemma:
Adding relator codes and initiating a search option will result in decreased access for the public. To increase access using relator codes, manual updates will be necessary. So, you either do not implement the search option, which makes the RDA changes useless, or you spend money on manual updating. Therefore: is it worth while to spend money and resources on adding relator codes (and other markup) to records already there? The result is to make a product that is more complex to use now and in the foreseeable future. But, yes: there are some who can perceive fluffy clouds out on the horizon, decades from now, where with patient and diligent work, plus plenty of money, there may be better access than ever before!

(And maybe not)

Is this what the public wants? I understand that you feel that it is all worth while, but I think it is more important to discover what is more important to the public and of course, most importantly, to the administrators, who are the ones who actually have to cough up the cash for the access to RDA and training--then they'll discover implementing those rules made their catalogs obsolete(!) and now they have to spend more to update those catalogs manually. I wonder what they'll say?

Plus, planning so far into the future in such a volatile information environment as what we are living through today makes little sense. I personally believe that what RDA and FRBR proposes is already obsolete, but for the moment, I shall admit I may be wrong. Yet, by the time everything is "manually updated" it is fair to state that the final result will be as outdated as the trilobyte.

Wouldn't it be better to spend that money on fixing what everyone can see is broken now, such as getting the cross-references to work and the subjects? And to improve user interfaces for the faceted catalogs and we could declare victory on the FRBR user tasks?

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