I was discussing the world-view of catalogers, who must look at the world beyond their local collections.
That is an incredible disingenous statement, Mr. Weinheimer. Who exactly are your catalogers? Most of the catalogers I know look way beyond their local collections. My cataloging students certainly do not escape my classes without having that wide worldview seared into their brains. (Perhaps it is the administrators who are short-sighted and don’t provide the resources to make this happen.)
Really? Could you give me an example of that? I see very few records for worthwhile materials out on the free, WWW. Most records are still focused on the holdings of the local library, and the digital resources *the library pays for.* In essence, the catalog is saying to the users, “These are the materials that the library is paying for or has paid for. There are many, many, many (maybe even more) highly worthwhile materials available for free on the web, and perhaps some of them are even better, but you will have to use different, non-library tools to discover those things. Also, there are free digital copies of many of the materials currently held in the library, but we will not point you in that direction unless it happens to be in Google Books and we are using the Google API. Even then, a free digital copy may be roaming somewhere else out on the web, in American Memory, HathiTrust, Europeana, or Lord knows where.”
I don’t think our users understand in these terms, but they feel it and it makes them skeptical.
I reiterate that I am not blaming anyone for this situation because I understand why it is. Everyone is trying their best. Catalogers are overworked now, budgets are not going up and administrators are scratching for everything they can get. There are no equivalents of “book jobbers” who make money by selecting websites, so library selectors have very little help with a preliminary selection. But I still see this as the reality, and I think we need to change it. The only way of changing it is to find help from outside, and I think it is possible today.
I think this also answers the next statement. Since my school can’t afford a Federated Search Engine, I have tried to fold in Google Scholar into my extend search. My patrons say they like it.
But here is where I don’t understand you—many library catalogs do these things already. Many academic library catalogs and public libraries allow users to search the local catalog and also a whole bevy of Electronic resources. Here at UNT we use a Federated Search Engine to search all of the journal databases at once, if so desired.
Ranganathan numbers each section in his chapters because he wanted his works to be accessible on that level. If all information resources in the world were completely digital I could see this happening. But, the REALITY is that they are not. And they will not be for a long time. Google can throw all the money they want at it. It’s not going to help.
Actually, there might be possibilities to do this today using web2.0 and web3.0 tools and letting the patrons do the work. We need to stop thinking in terms of huge organizations taking 100% responsibility for these matters. There are options that did not exist before.
I thank you for an excellent debate!