Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Re: [ACAT] Area of responsibility in RDA

Posting to Autocat

On 30/10/2012 17:02, Aaron Kuperman wrote:
<snip>
If the author and publisher thought the information was important enough to put on the title page, perhaps we should consider it as well. Are we catalogers certain we know better than the publisher what is important to the users? If we want our metadata to be considered superior and worthy of paying us salaries (which are much greater than what someone would get to merely scan the t.p. - which is our competition), we shouldn't be quick to reject the publisher's and author's attachment of important to information about the creators of the works we catalogue.
</snip>
Book publishers spend a lot more time deciding what p. 1 of cover, or the jacket, should look like, than they spend on the t.p. That is because they know very well that the cover is part of what sells a book--not the title page. It is just like a DVD: what gets the public's attention? The title frame, or what people see on the DVD container? Or with a film that is currently shown, is it what people see on the posters hanging all over town and in their newspapers or on the title frame?

Trying to figure out what is, and is not, important to some publisher that I have never met, wastes enough of my time, but then to assume that these publishers place this information on the title page (where the public rarely looks) instead of on the cover, because we believe that the publishers think that the t.p. is "more important" than the cover, just doesn't seem to make very good business sense to me.

The RDA conventions on the statement of responsibility are almost a non-sequitur, in my opinion. The fact is: the public doesn't spend time analysing what is in our records--they use our records as tools to get into the resources themselves. People are interested in using our books, journals, maps, videos, and so on and they are not interested in our records except as the way to get into the resources they really want. If they have other ways other than the catalog, they tend to use them. Our records are pointers to what people want and the public will abandon and forget our catalog records as soon as they find something that interests them. That is the catalog's purpose.

This is the reality of the catalog. Sorry everybody but it's just a fact. That's how the public considers every catalog and every finding tool, including Google. Nobody cares about a statement of responsibility except another cataloger or maybe an ILL librarian or library selector. That is not to say that the SR is not important: the SR is vitally important in the same way that it is important for your mechanic to know what kind of differential you have in your car. Mechanics need to know so that they can keep your car running well, but 99.99% of people don't care what kind of differential they have in their cars, nor do they need to, so long as it works. But I want my mechanic to know, because it is important to him.

One of the big differences between mechanics and catalogers is that mechanics know very well that 99.99% of the public couldn't care less about the differentials in their cars, but the mechanics don't feel bad about that. It doesn't make them feel less important--in fact, it probably makes them feel more important. But there seems to be something in the catalog world that gets catalogers to want to believe that the public is intensely interested (or even mildly interested) in what they make. People are interested in libraries because of the books and maps and records and so on that the public can find on the shelves--they are not interested in the catalog. For them, the catalog is a tool that they must use since it is the only tool that will point them to what they need. And after it has pointed them in the right direction, the catalog ceases to exist. Until the next time.

Such a realization doesn't make me feel bad. In fact, it makes me feel more important.

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