Re: The Process of Cataloging in the Future

Posting to RadCat

On 28/05/2013 22:08, Frances, Melodie wrote:

James – sorry to keep being devil’s advocate, but the other point I would like to make re ‘libraries must change,’ is that libraries ARE changing. And to each library it’s ability, they ARE going along with digital stuff. Libraries as a whole aren’t big enough [don’t generate enough $] to be paid super attention to by a lot of the cutting edge things, but it seems that our role isn’t so much to be cutting edge as it is to be right there behind cutting edge and making that cutting edge understandable to our users.

One of my own personal favorite things that I would like to see libraries do is get more involved with things like xml and using it to break down silos. Even in my tiny library I have been able to do some of that and it is awesome.

And I am not trying to be a party-pooper but I just don’t see that librarianship is changing all that much (although this perhaps does not apply to “libraries” themselves). Reference questions continue to drop; selection of web resources still seems to be hunt and peck, and not done in a cooperative way, which is ultimately the only option. There is Infomine, which is very good but it seems more or less independent from normal library catalogs Intute was great but was stopped because of budget cuts.

Certainly RDA changes almost nothing of substance that will matter to the patrons: abbreviations, punctuation and description? The public cares nothing at all about such details. And the relator codes and other relationship WEMI designations, while in theory could possibly be useful, add a level of complexity for the catalogers and searchers (especially as the list of relators grows more and more) and anyway, their usefulness falls apart in practice when we think about the mis-named “legacy data”. Nobody wants to display the 336/7/8 fields because they are incomprehensible. I have seen no solutions to any of this. Bibframe seems to have little relationship to RDA and FRBR, and in my opinion, should have been done first. In any case, it will be years before anything is implemented. But more fundamentally, the traditional practice of cataloging materials manually one by one seems to be unsustainable in an environment with the cuts in numbers of catalogers, the practice of cataloging is as complex as ever, and the numbers of materials are multiplying rapidly. The numbers simply do not add up and point to meltdown. It reminds me of the financial crisis in many ways.

Yet, there is potentially a lot of help out there–how can it be used in the most efficient ways? These are issues that must be discussed but it would mean real and true change.

Libraries themselves are changing–many times of necessity because of budget cuts but also, their reason for existence seems to be changing. For instance, they seem to be becoming more social areas, and while there is nothing wrong with that, it also seems that their significance as information centers is diminishing.