Posting to Bibframe
On 8/13/2016 01:01, Karen Coyle wrote:
One of the key questions, for which we do not currently have an answer, is: What are the goals of the catalog? Cutter had his, in 1876
The latest version of the International Cataloging Principles has these goals
I think these ICP principles are pretty bizarre
I completely agree, and I think it is important for librarians and catalogers to accept that these are pretty bizarre goals. At least with Charles Cutter, he made it very clear that the goals of the catalog come from the questions asked by the users and he delineated those questions. See at http://tinyurl.com/3x4xpom where he provides the questions (asked in 1876):
1st. Has the library such a book by a certain author? Have you Bell on the Brain ? Have you John Brent, by Theodore Winthrop ?
2d. What books by a certain author has it ?’ What other books by Winthrop have you?
3d. Has it a book with a given title? Have you John Brent ?
4th. Has it a certain book on a given subject ? Have you a pamphlet on the bull-frog, by Professor -I’ve forgotten his name?
5th. What books has it on a given subject? Have you anything on glaciers? What have you on philosophy? I wish to see all the books.
6th. What books has it in a certain class of literature? What plays have you ? What poems ?
7th. What books have you in certain languages? What French books have you? How well provided are you with German literature?
Cutter’s catalog was created to answer most of these types of questions asked by people in 1876. While such questions are still asked today, the range of questions has become much broader–and I suspect the questions asked by the public were already much broader than those provided by Cutter in his day as well. But Cutter had to start somewhere.
An additional purpose of the catalog, and one that I think everyone can agree on, is that it serves as an inventory of (most of) the materials in the library. Beyond an inventory tool, in the early 21st century “search” is changing rapidly (Google changes its algorithm about twice a day) and people’s expectations are changing as well.
The ICP rules are just modern reinterpretations of Cutter’s purposes. It seems to me that if we want to build something for the public, then we should find out what kinds of questions they are asking and analyze them, just as Cutter did. The people who have the best knowledge of the public’s questions are reference librarians–reference librarians of all kinds: academic, public, children’s and so on.
People who are building the tools normally want to find out what the users of their tools want to do and what they expect, especially when there are tons of alternatives available that people find more attractive. (An interesting article in this regard is “The Strange Affliction of ‘Library Anxiety’ and What Librarians Do to Help” http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-strange-affliction-of-library-anxiety-and-what-librarians-do-to-help, which I have certainly seen myself)
If we insist on building tools without knowing what modern society needs or wants (or we insist that we already know better) then it shouldn’t be surprising that anything we come up with will be bizarre.