On 10/04/2013 15:37, Aaron Kuperman wrote:
1. The world will not end if people are inconsistent in placing a period (“full stop”) at the end of the 300 field, depending on how it would have looked on a catalog card.
8. AACR2 was a total failure at modern media, which is why virtually no one used it to assign metadata for electronic resources, whereas RDA at least can be offered as a standard for metadata for current (increasingly electronic) publication without us looking silly.
Much of what you point out are good and necessary changes especially with the reproductions. There does seem to be a randomness however, about some of the rules, e.g. a 245 can be in all caps, number of authors traced and so on, all subject to cataloger’s judgment, but when it comes to punctuation (or lack of same), it is mandated. It would make more sense if cataloger’s judgment were applied the other way around. At least that’s the way it seems to me.
Concerning AACR2/RDA and electronic resources, there are many problems that are more fundamental, e.g. where there is a static metadata record that describes a website that changes constantly, unpredictably and may even disappear, all without any notification. Eventually, each and every metadata record describing these resources will describe something that no longer exists and will have to be updated. And the only method we have now is manual updates. The actual cataloging of these materials has always presented little trouble and it is the maintenance of these records that have presented the real headaches. In my opinion, expecting such a level of record maintenance results in a completely unsustainable situation.
This is totally different with physical materials, unless we want to compare DVDs, CDs, floppy discs, and even lots of microfilms that deteriorate and become incoherent garbage. The records that describe those materials also describe things that no longer exist. Yet, leaving those types of physical resources aside, a metadata record describing e.g. a book will still be valid 200 years from now. We can’t say the same thing about records for websites. This is a very practical and real issue that affects catalogers, staff, and users and should be addressed. Adding a couple of fields here and there doesn’t help much.
I think what really makes us look silly is illustrated by what I have experienced over the last few weeks. When I have been out with friends (mainly scholars lately) and people ask what is happening in the library world, I mention RDA and the incredible number of updates to the authority records. After I explain what that means, when they ask how these headings are being updated, I say, that ca. is being changed to approximately, fl. to active, and so forth. The unvarying response has been uproarious laughter, which does add to the general frivolity, but also suggests how the public will think of these “wonderful” advances in cataloging! It just reinforces the stereotype of the librarian/cataloger who is focused on trivial details such as punctuation, that will not help the public in any real way.