Posting to Autocat
On 9/10/2015 4:27 PM, Jesse Lambertson wrote:
>Our collections will show biases in many ways – some ways we may not even be aware of.
Librarians should definitely be aware of this though – the slight disconnect between abstract meanings of “access to information,” “intellectual freedom,” “freedom to read,” etc and the actual decisions we HAVE to make for our own local missions statements, institutional goals and patron-base – to name a few of the factors that influence our routine collections-minded decisions. Even an avant garde collection or collection of radical political resources will reveal its own biases. This idea exhibits to me the simple idea that we must have as many different libraries as possible – even if all those are built on completely different biases and collection development policies.
I like that. I have spoken in the past with some scholars who have told me (only partly in jest!) that library selection was the same as censorship. But with the tsunamis of “information” and “pseudo-information” it is now becoming more and more clear that all members of the public require selection and, in fact, they rely on it constantly right now.
The selection they rely on is done by computers that rank things using “relevance” criteria. (There was a recent interesting discussion on relevance ranking on RDA-L) It is my belief that the public would love it if selection were done not by secret, mindless algorithms that are constantly manipulated by all kinds of characters for their own shady purposes, but would prefer it if selection were done by experts who know what they are doing. And I think they would be willing to pay for it (probably through their taxes or some kind of member subscriptions to professional societies that would provide these kinds of services) because genuine expert selection would save them an incredible amount of time, besides relieving them of their worries about believing something stupid or falling for some swindle, and so on.
And then some other experts would describe and arrange those expert-selected materials in ways that the public could rely on as well….
Hey! That’s a LIBRARY!
But to build that, we have to really and truly find out what the public wants and that may hurt many librarians. I think they want our collections (mostly) but the only way into our collections is through our catalogs, and the public has made it very clear they don’t want our catalogs as they are now–or in my opinion, as the RDA/Linked data crowd envision them to be. We have to find out what they want and then work to build it.
Seems simple enough, but there other concerns out there….