On 21/10/2012 17:39, J. McRee Elrod wrote:
Such a situation could never exist in other parts of our society, for instance with food, where each store does *not have to* inspect every candy bar before it is sold to the public …
On the other hand, we have just had the largest recall of beef in Canadian history, and automobile recalls are frequent. Quality control is a widespread problem.
The difference is: in the rest of the world, you can do recalls, and when you do a recall it actually harms the institutions and the people who made the products that are below the standards. There is no possibility of any of that in the library-bibliographic world. Other agencies do not have to accept any crud you send out, and leave it up to each local store to ensure that the public is not harmed because those who created the beef or automobiles didn’t feel like creating a standard product. If an automobile has lousy brakes, or explodes on impact, it is not the fault of the place where you bought it. It is the fault of the company that created it, and that company cannot–by law–just keep on making the same lousy product. They have to fix the problem. If they ignore it, they will be shut down.
Society could not function if there were no reliability of the products put on sale. I would hope that the institutions sending out the rotten beef or lousy cars would take steps to improve the products. And if they didn’t, they should be shut down–not for any kind of principle, but for the good of the people who use their products. The matter is a simple one in the real world.
Why should it be so different in libraries? Should it be a matter of “let the buyer (or downloading cataloger) beware”. With other products, is up to somebody to determine what is acceptable (that is, the experts who set the standards), and if something is not acceptable, it means precisely that: it is unacceptable. It is not the responsibility of each store to make sure that their products are no good–it is up to the suppliers to provide that guarantee. Why should libraries be held to lesser standards?
This question holds a lot of other considerations I admit, but it undoubtedly works in the rest of the world. It has to. With information products, why should it be otherwise? Are they really that less important than a can of corn on a grocery store shelf? I think information products are as important.
Standards should mean something. Otherwise, there is no choice except to acknowledge that there are no standards. Why? Because if you break those standards, nothing happens to you, although something does happen to everyone else. Why should each library have to revise the records they download, and then become overloaded with revisions and be forced to give up, making the public the ones to “beware”?
What does the idea of “bibliographic standards” really mean?