Posting to Autocat
On 1/22/2015 12:37 AM, J. McRee Elrod wrote:
> James said:
>> >It seems to me that the catalog*as a whole* handles this rather well >> >right now …
> Yes there are resources outside the items themselves which identify > hoaxes. The questions are, do the records for the items themselves > need such indication, and if so, how does that impact on cataloguer > neutrality, and who decides what is untrue?
That is not the idea I wished to convey. We need to see the catalog as a whole–as our users do–and not focus only on individual records. In the case of the “Protocols” the catalog is supposed to bring all the materials together, both the different versions of the Protocols and the items about the Protocols. At one time, it did that job rather well.
We are lucky that we can see how this was supposed to work by looking in Princeton’s scanned card catalog. (DISCLOSURE: I am not pining for “the old days” here. I am demonstrating a power that has been lost)
If we go to the first card of the Protocols: http://bit.ly/15dua9k, and browse the cards, we see the different versions of the text in different languages. As we continue along, we come to items that have the Protocols as a subject: http://bit.ly/1JjZEYU (We know this because the subjects were typed in ALL CAPS and they may have been in red ink, too) As we browse those cards, we immediately become aware that there is some kind of controversy.
This was one example of how the catalog was supposed to work but it, along with many other capabilities, were lost when keyword was introduced. It is true that keyword brought in many capabilities that were impossible before, but it should be recognized that it lost many as well.
In our catalogs today, there is no “browse” function that brought subjects and titles together in this very powerful and provocative way. I am absolutely not saying that the solution is to bring back such a browse, because that method was for physical catalogs and is 100% obsolete today. But our time and efforts would be better spent figuring out how to recreate that power for a new environment, instead of the tedious recoding of zillions of records of what we deem to be “true” or “false” today, and that we know will change over time. As a profession, we don’t want to go there. Simply bringing similar things together can both be powerful and highly provocative.
Mac, I know you understand this, but you are one of the few. I believe these sorts of basic powers of the catalog have been forgotten for a long time now.