Posting to Autocat
On 7/5/2014 3:27 AM, Tennant,Roy wrote:
On 7/4/14, 7/4/14 5:47 PM, “J. McRee Elrod” wrote:
“Metadata specialist”. Michael Gorman defins “metadata” as “cataloguing for young men”.
The world that Michael Gorman inhabits is all but gone.
But then perhaps he knows that, since by calling “metadata” “cataloging for young men” he appears to acknowledge the fact that cataloging as he knows it is indeed dying. I think it’s too bad that he didn’t understand that it is being replaced by something much more inclusive, much more expansive, much more challenging in its own way, than the world he knew.
I think it’s unfortunate that he spewed the kind of invective he did at the things he didn’t understand, as I feel like that behavior damaged a legacy that should receive more respect from the younger generation than it will now. And that makes me sad.
While our methods must adapt to the environment that we are–or that we have already–entered, there are some core values that should not be abandoned, or at least not without at least some discussion. I have in mind the fact that the sheer numbers of materials are overwhelming our traditional catalogs, e.g. what I keep repeating, the video where the fellow mentions how he imports over 8000 records every day, equaling 2,000,000 a year. These numbers will overwhelm any catalog so that authority control and even very basic standards just break down. When you look at it from the point of the users, even this represents a tiny fraction of what is both valuable and available to them. Searching “everything” from a single text box, however you choose to do it–as a single database or federated searching–has almost incalculable consequences and I haven’t heard anyone discuss such matters except just to get quiet and put their heads in their hands….
While we can say we must be more “inclusive” the simple fact is, RDA is not more “inclusive” at all, and in fact, has only served to split the cataloging world even more than it was before. As one example, one of the main aims of the original AACR3 (before it became RDA) was to make it easier to catalog electronic materials. Quite reasonable. RDA hasn’t made that any easier at all. Cataloging departments are being decimated and in many cases, left to themselves to wither away.
In sum, I think that if “catalogs” are to continue they must provide at least some minimal standards, and one of those standards should be “authority control”, i.e. a tool that will allow someone to search for “James Packer” and get the archaeologist instead of the billionaire Australian playboy. And do it with some level of assurance. If the tool we make can’t even do that–or does it on a miniscule fraction of materials–then it is difficult to call that tool a “catalog” and it is inevitable that the task will be left to to full-text, algorithmic searching.
And yet: Does the public want a tool that would let them search valuable materials selected by experts, that guarantees certain types of access that is provided as objectively as possible and not subject to the insanity of search engine optimization? I think they would absolutely love it–in fact, they have been screaming for it for quite some time in various places–but much needs to be done. First, the public’s understanding of search has changed so much that they would have to understand what we were providing, which would be radically different from anything else they know; they would also have to know the tool exists in the first place (not easy!), and most importantly, the tool would have to be easy for them to use.
These points are elementary and should be our primary topics.
Does anyone really think that RDA is more inclusive? Or that any library can provide RDA standards (or AACR2 standards for that matter) to the tune of 2,000,000 records a year? Does anybody really think that any organization outside of libraries will adopt RDA? If you do, I have a bridge in Brooklyn you might want to consider buying…
Until we can see the problems we really and truly are facing, and do so honestly, while trying to come up with some kind of answers that are possible and practical (I think there may be answers), it is difficult to see much progress.