Posting to NGC4LIB
On 09/10/2013 1.21, Peter Schlumpf wrote:
At the risk of being blunt, catalogers think too much and take themselves too seriously. That has been their problem all along. And it is true of Libraryland generally. In doing so they make themselves ever more irrelevant.
You can be blunt–please be blunt. One of the problems is people are not saying what they really think. Of course, everyone needs to be civil (as you are) but especially in these crazy, changing times in the information world, the only thing we can be sure of is that nobody knows what the public wants and even less, what they will want in two years from now. So, when somebody says that they know what people want, it is BS. They don’t know; they can’t. If they did know, they would keep their mouths shut and make outrageous amounts of money. Not knowing what the public wants actually puts everybody in the same boat, which is a real advantage.
Concerning John’s comment that there should be “IMHOs” in my messages, I appreciate the thought, but no. I have the courage of my convictions and if somebody can demonstrate where I am wrong, please do so, and if I am wrong I will admit it, just as I have in the past. If someone cares to look on the web, they will find that I have changed my mind several times. I consider that not to show failure or weakness, but instead learning, change and adaptability.
So, to return to the point, do catalogers (and librarians) think too much and take themselves too seriously? If we say that it is unimportant to allow quick, reliable, consistent, unbiased access to resources that are selected by experts, then that would have to be demonstrated. The Googles certainly work very hard and spend outrageous amounts of money to provide a type of quick access to materials that benefits their organizations in various ways, but the other points (reliable, consistent, unbiased, selected by experts) fall by the wayside.
Would the public like to have that kind of access? I think they are screaming for it (and I have pointed to those voices in my podcasts and papers). I don’t think the Googles have any interest in providing that kind of access for people, although they may well proclaim it is of vital interest to them, and we are supposed to believe it, along with: Google does no evil, that McDonald’s does it all for me, that Starbucks cares about the rain forests, that Nike shoes will make me “Just do it” and so on. I, for one, do not believe it.
The fact is, the library catalog does allow that kind of reliable, consistent, unbiased access to resources that are selected by experts. I can prove it, and have done so. The problem is: the methods the public is supposed to use for finding are definitely obsolete. If the library community refuses to update those methods to something modern and are aimed at the practical use for a public that refuses to sit for hours-long tutorials, then the library world deserves whatever it gets.