RE: [NGC4LIB] New Laws

Shawne Miksa wrote:

James, with all due respect, this attempt you describe is faulty. Personally, I feel it is wrong Nothing has to be reset. We need evolution, yes. But, this worldview of “catalogers” –are you talking about how people view catalogers or the cataloger’s worldview? If it is the latter then I agree some evolution of practices need to change, etc. If you mean how people view catalogers—so what? Let *them* think what they may—nothing will change that. It would be like telling a teenager to listen and learn.

I was discussing the world-view of catalogers, who must look at the world beyond their local collections.

What is the problem with separation? What is the problem with a diversity of resources? You want one big interconnected catalog for the world? I seem to recall similar thinking and attempts in our history. None successful. One example, the Classification Research Group (CRG) in the UK tried to create a universal classification system and eventually gave up because it was impossible to do—and it would be impossible to do now, in my opinion.

The reader have always had to go from one catalog or index to another….so you want one-stop shopping? That doesn’t conform to the reality of the diversity of information resources—the resources that we pull attributes from to create the basis for a representation in our systems. Nor does it conform to the reality of the diversity of people and cultures and how they view information and use information resources and CREATE information resources.

Here I’m afraid we have a serious disagreement. While people have always gone from one resource to another, I don’t think they liked it one bit (I know I sure didn’t when I had to dig things out of multiple volumes of journal indexes, go over to the card catalog, off to a bibliography, back to the card catalog, and then almost pull my hair out if I had to use an old citation index….) But people did it *only* because there was no choice. Now, there are many more choices out there and people expect very different things.

I don’t understand the need to remove the parameters between a library catalog and a journal index, or between a library catalog and a search engine. They are all different from each other. A library catalog is not a search engine and vice versa. People LEARN how to use different tools, LEARN how to analyze and synthesize information from different resources. Save the time of the user, yes, but don’t try to erase the boundaries of things that are not the same.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Yes, ranting. Dead and gone??? OMG.

The reason there is a parameter between the library catalog and the journal index (which contains many journal articles in the library) is because of lack of manpower. When the journals first came out, librarians tried to catalog each article, just like a book, but it soon became impossible to even imagine doing so, and therefore, they outsourced it to people like Poole, who came out with his Index; other indexes appeared and it went on from there. So, I see the separation not so much from inherent differences among the items, as for managerial reasons.

I firmly believe that a catalog should give access to materials in my collection. But, I also believe that an electronic book in the Internet Archive is just as much a part of my collection as some physical one on my shelves. My users want them; I want them. But not just books, there are a wondrous amount of resources out there: educational videos, interactive scholarly sites, and so on. There is more than I or an entire crew of catalogers could ever keep up with. Just finding them for selection is a practical impossibility. What happens when Google Books lets us see everything and many local collections will be 99% “subsumed” into that digital ocean? i want my users to have these things, but I ask: What will be the place of the local catalog? The catalog must have a solid relationship to all of these materials otherwise if it does not change its focus, it will be…. dead and gone. Sad, but I fear it is a *possible* future.

It doesn’t mean we need one big catalog (I don’t want that), but what we make needs to be connected in some way. Here are two examples I have done. In Google Books, the American Classical School at Athens has made lots of books available for free. These are especially useful to my students and faculty. I do not have time to catalog them all, and in any case, they seem to still be adding them. I made the following record: where the 856 field uses a Google query. So, I cataloged it as a type of collection. Quick and dirty, I admit, but otherwise, the materials in Google can’t be found. There are other publishers making their mateials available this way, but they have much less clear-cut subjects, so I have been considering how to deal with these.

The other example is my extend search. In the same catalog record above, just select some text and see what happens. It is designed to help people in a small, limited way, but my users like it. It’s not perfect, but at least I am able to give my users some help. If these sites were linked semantically, it would be about 10,000 times better, but one must start somewhere.