Posting to RadCat
I haven’t been on RadCat for such a long time, but I have participated in some of the other lists for quite awhile. On some lists, I am considered radical, and others conservative, while on others, I think I am just shunned. (!)
Concerning myself, I got my MLIS from UT Austin relatively late in my life, in 1988 and became a Slavic languages cataloger at Princeton University. While there I became really interested in the history of the catalog (there is quite a history there) and for various reasons I also got interested in creating web sites. I put up some of the earliest websites from Princeton University and just about all of the Catalog department’s documentation, above all my own Slavic Cataloging Manual. Also at Princeton, I was supposed to stay on the cutting edge of metadata from the first we heard of it. From all of this I became interested in web design and information architecture.
I was moderator of SIG-IA (the information architecture list) for the American Society of Information Science for several years. Around that point my wife and I moved to Italy and while here, I have worked in various places, training, cataloging, and being an all-purpose librarian. I have also been a webmaster for some institutions. At FAO of the UN, I indexed their documents using completely different rules, formats and subjects, reworked their cataloging workflow, and helped create an XML/RDF format for record sharing. Did some training, too. Then, I was director of the library at the American University of Rome, a small undergraduate institution where I implemented and reworked a Koha catalog. Since that time, I have become freelance, consulting with some libraries of the Vatican here, consulting with the URBS consortium (a network of foreign institutes in Rome) and right now, I am doing retrospective conversion of some materials at the British School in Rome.
My wife (also a librarian) and I were in the US for the first time in several years, at the Koha Conference in Reno, Nevada. We both agreed that it was the best conference we had ever been to and the most practical.
Concerning cataloging itself: while I think that the library catalog community could produce something good and unique for the public, I fear that it won’t because so many catalogers want to cling to FRBR and RDA. Instead of trying to find out what people want today, many seem to believe that FRBR and RDA provide it, no matter that it hasn’t been tested or what the ultimate costs may be. I find such an attitude limiting and arrogant, and in the end it is disheartening.
Nevertheless, I still remain somewhat optimistic because I honestly believe that what we create can make a real difference to the public. We have to prove it however, and not with the tired, old graphs or incomprehensible jargon or heartfelt testimonials. We have to build something to knock the pants off of people. I think we could do it, but will we? I don’t know.