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Posting to ALCTS-eforum

On 5/3/2016 4:00 PM, Karl Pettitt wrote:
Cataloging and metadata management have already seen a great deal of change with the implementation of RDA. However, perhaps an even greater change is on our horizon. Our hope is that this e-forum can serve as a place for us to discuss the issues we face in preparing for this change.
To begin our discussion we would like to start with a rather broad question. What apprehensions do you have about the upcoming changes to the world of cataloging and metadata management? Specifically, what worries do you have about replacing MARC?

Updating MARC to a format that is more widely used should have been done long ago. Computers are so powerful today that the change could be arranged so that neither catalogers nor the public would even notice much of a change–or if individuals wanted, it could be a huge change. There is tremendous flexibility today, especially once we go with a more modern format.

One concern I have is that there doesn’t seem to be much agreement about what a library catalog should do, and even where people should encounter our catalog/catalog records. Although I think everybody understands that the public doesn’t like to use our catalogs anymore (although there may be little acceptance of that fact among many librarians), I want to ask whether the new tools that will replace the catalog will be separate tools (that people will be expected to go before they can search them) or will our records be added into the tools the public already uses?

What I mean is: do we expect everybody will come to our separate sites to find what we have, or will our records “go to them” and be included into the Googles and Yahoos and Bings–and Baidu and Yandex for that matter–and who knows? maybe even into Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other sites. If people are supposed to come to our newly-structured separate “catalogs” that use Bibframe and linked data, that they can navigate, then that will have certain requirements. First, you have to get them to come to our new catalogs.

But if our records are to be included in the Googles, etc. that has other requirements (specifically, a format called schema.org). To be clear also, this possibility could be done more or less immediately at a minimum of cost, while the Bibframe/linked data tools will demand decades of work before they exist and–we shouldn’t forget–lots of funding.

For instance, if the ultimate purpose is to allow people to do the FRBR user tasks of find-identify-select-obtain works-expressions-manifestations-items by their authors-titles-subjects, whatever we make with Bibframe and linked data probably won’t work very well, if at all, in the Googles.

Perhaps we could envision that somehow everything would work in tandem: that our Bibframe records could be converted into schema.org for placement into the Googles. Then, when people find specific records on the Googles, they would click into our modern Bibframe/Linked data tools. Maybe, but for a whole lot of reasons, I’m not convinced.

That’s not even asking if the FRBR user tasks are what a 21st-century public wants to do with “bibliographic records”. I am far from alone in my doubts, but that is another discussion.

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