ACAT Authorities and references

Posting to Autocat

On 08/09/2014 15.40, Brian Briscoe wrote:

How do we catalogers get invited to meet with ILS developers so that we can work together to create the kind of tools that will really serve the needs of our users?

and

On 08/09/2014 15.48, Scott R Piepenburg wrote:

As Brian writes ” How do we catalogers get invited to meet with ILS developers so that we can work together to create the kind of tools that will really serve the needs of our users?” Easy! Write the checks.

Yes, and therein lies the real difficulty. I like to think that I can speak both languages (catalog-speak and tech-speak) and I have succeeded in interesting IT developers. But that is not nearly enough because it is their supervisors who have to be interested! Plus, it is not the catalogers who have control of the money to pay them; catalogers (or somebody) must first convince the library administrators to cut loose of the funds. THEN, in the case of a normal ILS, someone else (neither the catalogers nor the library administrators) must convince the ILS company administrators to work on it. Achieving all of that is anything but easy.

That is why I have placed at least some hopes on the open-source software movement. If someone wants an open-source catalog to work in a certain way, you can pay the money and it will be done. Or–if you can get a developer interested and it is not too much work, someone might actually do it on their own time. But as I said, it’s tough–even with the best of intentions–when everybody has too much to do already and are working flat out.

I have found that demonstrating the power of authorities, which seems so obvious to me, is very abstract for others to grasp. I suspect that most people alive today have probably never experienced it while others have forgotten. Plus, the new ways are popular. When I have tried to demonstrate how authority control could work for us today, I have been reduced to showing how it worked in cards and book catalogs, which makes me look like the biggest Luddite that walked the face of the earth. It turns people off immediately and I know it. To get some possible movement, I think there needs to be a small prototype so that people could see how it might help them.

At least building a prototype is possible, now that the LC authorities are available for download and manipulation. So, it could be done–it is conceivable. But the first step is to get people (i.e. catalogers) to see that the catalog really is broken; that is has been broken for a long time, and that is too bad–but it really and truly can be fixed. It really can.

Unfortunately, the cataloging community is currently focused on rule changes, format changes, and striving for the universe of FRBR and linked data, as if that will make the real difference. That takes tremendous resources, time, money and so on from shrinking departments. I don’t know if anything will come from the cataloging community. At least not anytime soon.

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