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

Posting to NGC4LIB

On 10/10/2013 7:27 PM, Karen Coyle wrote:

I see no reason why any of this is either/or. We can do linked data w/o RDA, w RDA, w/o FRBR, w FRBR. The main thing is that we cannot do it WELL with MARC and we cannot “upgrade” MARC to linked data in a way that will be worth the time and $$. If we had resisted database technology and Internet technology to the extent that we are resisting linked data, we’d be either further behind. (BTW, libraries were very cutting edge in embracing network technologies, from OCLC’s pre-Internet network, to the fact that the first Univ of California campus-wide network was one built to deliver the online catalog to everyone. Only later did it become a general technology.)

Doesn’t solve any of the problems? It’s not a total solution, but if there were obvious solutions I hope we would have embraced them by now.

Jim, I wish you’d quit railing against things and find something to be FOR. Not your personal cataloging rules, but something that is likely to entice others to move forward with you. As one learns in dog-training classes, no one comes toward you when you are yelling angrily at them. But they will come if you use a soft voice and offer a treat.

Sorry Karen, but I can’t agree. There is a world of difference doing it with RDA/FRBR or without RDA/FRBR. One costs lots of money at a very difficult time for libraries and still makes us wait for an unknown amount of time, but years at least, and by that time we will be even further behind. Without RDA/FRBR, it can be done now, with a minimum of costs.

Why is everybody waiting? I don’t know, but I suspect librarians may be scared of what they will find in the linked data universe

I have said from the beginning that we should go into linked data, but do it as cheaply as possible and have minimum expectations. To do it with FRBR/RDA is fabulously expensive and will take a lot more time. To do it without FRBR/RDA is a lot cheaper and easier, and I think, wiser, just as other organizations have done. That is just stating facts and is not yelling angrily. I agree that libraries cannot use the MARC field/subfield numbering to do this, but that is pretty much irrelevant since producing the formats for linked data sharing can be done in a myriad of ways. If the ultimate idea is to go into the linked data universe, there is no hurry to change library use of MARC (which we must all admit won’t happen for a long time anyway). We can port out other formats as so many systems have done. I have said all of this for years.

Yet the fact remains: we do not know that those other formats will solve any of the problems we are facing. They might. They just as well might not. Sure, we can do something like OpenAgris and we should, but the question remains: is aggregating all this stuff together in ways we think are cool what the public wants, or what we want? I am not the only one asking these questions. Many think people want something else. The first step is to find out what they want, and that is not at all easy.

In theory, our records will be more widely available in the linked data universe, but I have gone to some pains to point out that this is not the underlying problem with our data. On the other side, our data has value that is being overlooked. So if the idea is to go into linked data, do it now, just as FAO did. (I was involved with some of that, by the way)

What is one of the main problems is that the pro-RDA people refuse to deal with the real, everyday problems of those libraries who have few resources, and are trying to deal with the changes that RDA has thrust upon them. Many libraries are just refusing to deal with the RDA changes at all because they have no resources and are already overwhelmed. The richer libraries may have more options, but others (the vast majority I think) are hurting seriously. At the same time, the RDA people don’t have to demonstrate the changes are practically useful or even wanted by the public. But nobody seems to care.

I think I have been FOR a lot of things. There is plenty to do. For instance, I have been for research into discovering what the public really wants, not just mouthing the same, tired old mantra from FRBR, in itself a rehashing of 19th century suppositions/superstitions. I have been for enhancing the Lucene-type indexing that allows for facets, as we see in Worldcat and many other library catalogs (many of them available for free). This could have some of the greatest positive effects on the public. I have been for introducing real cataloging standards that could even lead to certification. These standards would be similar to water or food standards and would necessitate punishments to those who break them. That may sound harsh, but when you can break a standard and nothing happens, it’s tough to call it a standard. It is also difficult for others to take you and your “standards” seriously. To do that would require lots and lots and lots of changes, but if done, would raise our credibility. I have also been for entering the linked data universe, so long as it is done cheaply and easily.

The RDA folks refused to come up with a viable business case, as the national libraries actually admitted(!), but it was accepted anyway(!). Now everyone is reaping that harvest.

If people think linked data is the solution, then just do it. Nothing is holding anybody back from achieving it right now, just as FAO and multiple other organizations have done. I’m sorry that this may not be the “sweet” method people would prefer, but sooner or later we have to look at the world around us as adults. We learn that we do not have unlimited resources and not everybody is waiting breathlessly while we make up our minds. The world moves on and leaves us behind. Decisions have consequences that may some may like for their own reasons (the 1%) and is a disaster for others (the 99%). We either deal with those consequences or ignore them.

By the way, where have I come up with “personal cataloging rules”? Please point to any rules that I have made up on my own. The closest could be to the Slavic Cataloging Manual, (original version at Princeton) but those were the ways Princeton interpreted current rules and RIs, and I always referred to the rules I was interpreting. (OK, it’s been awhile. Maybe not always but as often as I could)

I don’t consider any of that to be yelling angrily, but simply stating the plain facts.