Re: [NGC4LIB] The Return of Cards? [mailing list]

Posting to NGC4LIB

On 10/10/2013 10:25 AM, Bernhard Eversberg wrote:

<snip>  09.10.2013 23:32,  James Weinheimer:

… For instance, I am still waiting for somebody to demonstrate how the changes with RDA or FRBR or going into linked data is going to make a difference that is both practical–in the sense of how much work and expense will it be–and will also be meaningful and useful to the public.

But there have been examples of libraries putting their stuff up as downloadable files of RDF triples. The “Linked data cloud” and the “data hub” are not exactly recent:
and there’s even LCSH included. Last updated Oct. 2012.
And there’s LIBRIS, the Swedish network’ data with a SPARQL endpoint, as of Nov. 2011, and there’s British Library’s BNB bulk downloads, updated Sept. 2013, among others.

Now what’s being done with all of this, and where are the meaningful and useful examples that would encourage us, especially, to continue with FRBR and RDA?

Exactly. The instances where libraries have put their information into the linked data universe have made no difference at all. Why should we expect anything different in the future? Is it because RDA implementation provides the newest records (and only the newest records) with relator terms for authors? (This means that headings don’t have just, e.g. “Melville, Herman, 1819-1891.” but “Melville, Herman, 1819-1891. author” or “Hitchcock, Alfred, 1899-1980. director”–but then again the records may not because it’s all optional! There are perhaps hundreds of other possible epithets, e.g. “writer of added text” or “editor of compilation”) Perhaps it will make a difference because the newest records (and only the newest records) will have WEMI information? (This means that it will say, e.g. not just “Melville, Herman, 1819-1891. Moby Dick” but “Abridgement of (work): Melville, Herman, 1819-1891. Moby Dick” There are lots of possible WEMI terms here too, while everything is still optional!)

To add this level of detail takes more time to make an individual record of course, and to do so retrospectively on the millions of records already done (with multiple headings per record) would be to undertake a retrospective conversion of records on a scale never even contemplated, at least in modern times. The change to AACR2 headings was miniscule in comparison. (In my researches at Princeton University, I discovered they recataloged the entire collection a few times until the 1870s when the library consisted of less than, I believe 30,000-40,000 volumes)

But I guess we are supposed to believe the RDA changes will make a major positive difference to the public.

On the other hand, I am still considering the interview that Jan mentioned where Scott Wasinger of EBSCO said, “I will say the next big shift in the library world will be the fall of the traditional catalog and the corresponding rise of fully-integrated and far superior discovery services.”
“More and more libraries are using EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) for the very reasons the industry as a whole will soon reach a point where discovery services supplant traditional catalogs. Taking patron driven acquisition of ebooks as just one example: going the catalog route, libraries must expend limited resources to customize, load, reload, remove, add, and replace MARC records; going the EDS route, libraries are able to eliminate these MARC record costs and deliver a much better experience to users, as the ebooks are made discoverable and accessible immediately with no dependency on MARC records.”

I assume that when Mr. Wasinger says “MARC records” he means “library-created records” so when he mentions eliminating “MARC record costs” he is really talking about eliminating something else that is of deep personal interest to members of this and other cataloger-related lists. Of course, he is a salesman “Vice President of Sales for eBooks and Audiobooks” and his job is to sell his product. I have read several reviews of EBSCO’s discovery service and it is not so universally beloved by the public.

Still, he may be right in general terms since we can see the current, unfortunate direction the library catalog is going. After all, it is not catalogers who decide these matters, but administrators who have to nurse disappearing budgets and much of EBSCO’s advertising copy will sound very good to them. Sad, it doesn’t have to be that way, but first we would have to reconsider what it is that the library catalog really offers the public. If it turns out that the library catalog is not fulfilling its function and is broken beyond repair, then I would agree: do away with it. But it (i.e. library-created records) should be given a real, fighting chance.

RDA, FRBR and linked data are wrong directions.