Monday, September 24, 2012

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

Posting to RDA-L

On 24/09/2012 15:19, Brenndorfer, Thomas wrote:
<snip>
In the case of relationship designators/relator codes for films -- if the data already exists (whether in IMDB or another database or with libraries having already done the work with $4 codes), then the technical burden shifts to finding means of sharing with other libraries. Right now, my catalog is ingesting thousands of newly coded RDA data elements in authority records every week. As a cataloger, I've already started to use them, and I can see them working really well in future displays of catalog data, including the possibility of searching and filtering on them. 
 
There has to be a start somewhere, sometime. Locking oneself into the past, and declaring defeat before the battle even starts, is the worst possible advice and analysis one can make.
</snip>
As I mentioned, if the data exists somewhere else, in the IMDB or elsewhere, and catalogers can use that information that would be fine, if it actually works. There is an old saying, "Don't count your chickens before they hatch." Wouldn't it be wise to have some kind of prototype to see what happens first before betting so much on it? While it can work, I have no doubt, but I have had too much experience translating these sorts of "can work" into "does work" (therein lies entire epic stories!), so whether it actually will work is something else--and of course, films are only one format, while libraries have lots of formats.

But maintaining that those who criticize are "declaring defeat" is absolutely incorrect. I completely agree that the catalog as it stands now is broken and needs to be fixed. But decreasing access to resources is not fixing it (this is the reality of adding the relator codes)--I maintain it is breaking the catalog even more than it is now. This must be accepted. Otherwise, we are guilty of "doublethink". If you asked members of the public if they want less access to the materials, or they could have relatively the same access but it was more complex, I wonder what they would reply? RDA makes optional the rule of three, and 245$b among other important information. Finding out what the public thinks about all of that really would make for an interesting project for someone out there!

The catalog is broken, so how can we fix it? By discovering what really is broken, evaluating each broken part, and fixing those parts deemed important to fix today. I have mentioned these points many times already.

Instead of "declaring defeat before the battle even starts" it seems to me that RDA lives in its own theoretical world, attacking the wrong enemies with the wrong weapons, without caring about the consequences to the public or cataloging departments in the real world. It lives for itself. These are some of the readily foreseeable consequences of working without a valid business plan.

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