Re: [NGC4LIB] The “A” in RDA

Posting to NGC4LIB

On 03/08/2013 18:19, Karen Coyle wrote:

On 8/3/13 8:38 AM, James Weinheimer wrote:

But all of that assumes that a community no longer needs the library itself.

I don’t know where that comes from, but my message was the opposite. The community very definitely needs the library. Unless you think that the library is books and journals, but not learning, creating, communicating.

I know what you meant, Karen. It’s just that when I see something like “The Mission of Librarians is to Improve Society through Facilitating Knowledge Creation in Their Communities” I think: no way. I have seen his talk too, and it’s nice, but the mission of libraries is something different and far more important. It is not through “facilitating knowledge creation” and it never has been. It is to try to give the very best information it possibly can to the members of its community. The Googles don’t care about that in the slightest, in spite of their heartfelt testimonials and swearing on a stack of Bibles. I think that the traditional task of libraries is perhaps even more important than ever before in history, because society is facing this huge public opinion campaign to try to get people to embrace the Googles, (and it’s succeeded!) and thereby think that traditional library tools are past it.

The fact is: nobody knows if our tools are past it. I agree that what we have today doesn’t work and everything needs to be updated in all kinds of ways. No question about that. The arguments I have had with people about that are just depressing and tiring. Our tools need a complete overhaul. But, the traditional tools provided something that is almost beyond people’s comprehension today. When I say that, I know that people will roll their eyes, decide that I don’t know what I am talking about and am looking nostalgically at the past. When I demonstrate how it could work, I am reduced to showing card catalogs or even printed catalogs! That makes me look even more like a foolish Luddite in the eyes of everyone, and is a terrible problem when we have a library catalog that is so badly broken as ours is.

That frightens me and it cannot be good for society. It’s too soon to give up and swallow what the corporations throw at us, I think. I would love to see one, good, solid attempt of libraries to make something new before they (maybe) go under and spend their time teaching people how to update Wikipedia pages and become community events organizers.

Unfortunately, the library gurus in their wisdom have given us RDA and FRBR! It’s almost comical!