On 30/05/2013 18:09, Michael Gorman wrote:
Now we have a new class of cataloguer–self-hating cataloguers.
Why is the idea of preserving cataloguing standards ‘navel gazing’? Why are we, for the first time in human history, assuming that one means of communication will supplant all the previous means?
I know, I know … I’m a Luddite, mossback, &c, and all the other things that those not afflicted with technophilia are called.
I was proud of being a cataloguer and liked it far more, and was better at it, than my time as an administrator (the Peter Principle), but now I’m glad not to be among that dwindling band upholding cataloguing while besieged by googlers and the rest.
“Navel gazing” is not necessarily how I view cataloging (at least most of it but many of the discussions on RDA/FRBR/BIBFRAME very closely approaches it: works-expressions-manifestations-items vs. work-instance, spelling out abbreviations, spacing, capitalization, worse-than-useless relator codes, and so on), but “navel gazing” is definitely how many non-librarians, and many non-cataloging librarians, are coming to view what it is that we do. I think it is vital to ask why do they think that? Is there any justification for it? And to ask honestly, openly and courageously, no matter what we may find out. I have tried to analyse that in my papers and podcasts. Is it important to find out why?
Yes. Why is it important? Here is a very interesting, and ominous, article “Thinking the unthinkable: a library without a catalogue — Reconsidering the future of discovery tools for Utrecht University library” http://www.libereurope.eu/blog/thinking-the-unthinkable-a-library-without-a-catalogue-reconsidering-the-future-of-discovery-to (A library discovery tool essentially means an OPAC)
They discovered: “Our users are on the Internet and use Google or Google-like discovery tools. They find the content they need and then expect the library to deliver the content. We concluded that if, indeed, this is the world of our users, if this is reality, if big commercial companies are able to offer freely accessible search engines containing scientific content, there really is no need for libraries to try and pull their users back to the library systems.”
And what did they conclude?
- The Library should not invest in a new library discovery tool. The benefit for our users will be marginal. Instead, we should concentrate on improving delivery of the materials purchased and licensed for Utrecht University users or produced by Utrecht scholars.
- Discovery in the public cloud of special collections and certain other special materials is still inadequate. We need to improve findability by adding metadata to national and international initiatives. If necessary we may need to hold on to parts of the current WebOPAC to ensure materials can be found until better solutions will become available.
- We should rethink the role of the library in giving access to scientific information. Our role in discovery of scientific information has been part of our library identity for years. We realise that relinquishing this role to other players can make us feel naked and uncertain. We have to rethink and redesign the way we offer our services for access to scientific information.
- We should phase out Omega. For discovery of electronic articles there are sufficient alternatives available.
- We should investigate if and how the WebOPAC can serve as a delivery tool for our printed materials. It might be useful as a “known item search”– tool.
I am sure that Utrecht is not alone in thinking this way. This is the world that cataloging and catalogs are entering and it is leading to a very bad place. RDA/FRBR/BIBFRAME ignore these developments completely.
Therefore, if catalogs and cataloging are to survive, something has to happen. Something big. I want them to survive since I know that library catalogs provide something the Googles … [et al.] do not (and I have tried to discuss that in my conference papers and podcasts) but the cataloging community is focused on the minutiae of RDA, and that is–in my opinion–navel gazing. Perhaps navel-gazing was OK 40 or 50 years ago, but not in today’s crazy information world.
I don’t think this is self-hate–quite the opposite. It is seeing reality.