Posting to Autocat
On Wed, 14 Apr 2010 15:29:33 -0600, Laurence Creider wrote:
And the problem with abandoning exact transcription is that we will not be able to adequately identify description and item (digital or otherwise). It’s bad enough trying to make sense of a 19th or early 20th century footnote with author, title, and something like 8th ed. Transcription is going to continue to be needed so that we don’t buy the same book twice for ourselves or the library, so that we can verify information we find elsewhere, so that we can match a book to a description and decide what it is that we want to look at.
Exact transcription is almost never needed by our public–in fact in my experience, almost every citation they have is messed up somehow–but exact transcription is vital information for librarians to manage the collection. This is where I part ways with some of the “information managers” who maintain that the entire metadata record should be aimed only toward the user, not toward the librarians and catalogers, and if a user doesn’t need something, it follows that the information is not needed at all.
I completely disagree with this assertion. The experts who maintain a machine need additional tools and methods, e.g. a plumber needs additional access to pipes I may never need; a mechanic needs special tools and access to the differential that I had better not open up at all! As a user of the car or of the water to my home, I want these experts to be able to do their work quickly, easily and efficiently.
The managers of a library collection (i.e. catalogers, selectors, reference personnel) need to be able to know quickly and easily and efficiently exactly what is in the collection. If we can’t do this, we cannot manage the collection efficiently. Now, I am sure our users want us to be able to do our work efficiently, so they should not begrudge us our tools. So, the rule of exact transcription actually saves everyone’s time since we can say that we definitely have or not have an item without having to trudge into the stacks and looking at it.
But, capitalization and punctuation are another matter that make no difference either in finding or identifying an item. And while it may irritate me (which it does), I can deal with my irritation and can say that we should put our resources into areas that are more useful for our users, such as cataloging something new.