On 10/05/2013 00:21, Jonathan Rochkind wrote:
Festshrift codes, no. I didn’t mean ALL of the data, indeed.
Format/genre/medium/carrier info? Such as in leader bytes 6-7, field 007, and now the 336/337/338? Absolutely.
I am not saying that ALL the info in the MARC record is equally useful. I was, however, responding to the claim that any info is _obviously_ UNuseful (without an “RDA Priest” to interpret), if the values in the record are not interpretable by end-users without mediation. [at least I think that is the claim or implication several of you are making, it’s hard to sort through the double-negative sarcastic as-if tone]
The coded values are meant to be transformed by computers, not shown directly to end-users. And there are plenty of them. And always have been, as long as there has been MARC, this is not some new evil RDA introduced. And if you think that the historical MARC elements that require transformation by software instead of being viewed directly have always been useless and were a historical mistake — you should come out and say so and be precise about what you mean, instead of hiding behind a veil of sarcasm.
And the implication that if it’s not transparently interpretable by end-users as is, it is useless — shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how software works. And/or a willful pretense that our cataloging has any destination BUT to be used in computer software. 99.9% of our cataloging 99.9% of the time is only used via software intermediary, it’s destiny is data for software interfaces. It’s long past time (10-20 years) we stopped refusing to acknowledge that in our metadata control practices. It’s probably already too late.
And this continued predilection to sarcastically say the opposite of what one means in these discussions does not help communication.
One man’s humor is another man’s sarcasm. Besides, what I wrote was completely true. I cannot recall that I–or anyone–has maintained anything similar to “any info is _obviously_ UNuseful (without an “RDA Priest” to interpret), if the values in the record are not interpretable by end-users without mediation”. Anyone with any experience of any MARC coding would see in an instant that is not so, e.g. “245 14” does not display that way to the public but avoids indexing the initial article (second indicator), plus the first indicator provides an obsolete command for printing a title added entry card.
At the same time, I think it is worthwhile considering how the RDA 33x can or will be used in a practical environment. Sure, it may be good in theory, but I think we have had our bellies full of theory. Now should be the time for practical concerns. At least there now seems to be a general consensus that the 336/7/8 can’t be used as they are, e.g. from the MARC Standards:
336 ##$atwo-dimensional moving image$btdi$2rdacontent
the $b must be transformed, we can all agree. Into what? Is “two-dimensional moving image” understandable to an average user of the catalog? After all, catalogers have already decided users can’t handle “p.” “ill.” or “et al.” How can they handle this? So, we transform it into something else, thereby making the $a pretty much redundant, but what do we transform $b into?
Are catalogers supposed to say that that kind of question is not their concern? It’s a fair question and one that catalogers should be ready to answer because it is a question that anybody can predict will be asked–and asked by administrators who cannot be ignored. If something can’t be comprehended by the user, what good is it, especially if catalogers are supposed to be putting their valuable, diminishing resources into coding it.
So, my argument is that the coding must be useful, and to be useful it must be understandable to the user group. If it is not understandable, it is not useful. There are many user groups and some may be librarians or catalogers who have very special needs. So, in the 007/microform/specific material designation fixed fields, those codes are not useful for the general public:
a – Aperture card
b – Microfilm cartridge
c – Microfilm cassette
but they may be extremely useful for librarians to help them manage the collection efficiently.
To summarize my thoughts: who are the 336/7/8 fields designed to serve? If it’s the public, those codes must rendered in ways that are understandable to them. Otherwise, they are as useful as the first indicator of the 245.