RE: RDA, translations & translators. WAS: Further RDA record examples

Posting to Autocat

On Sun, 25 Jul 2010 17:07:20 +0000, Riley, Jenn wrote:

>I definitely agree with John Attig in his analysis of what’s necessary to distinguish one Expression from another, and that the Expression entity is a complex one. To me, this suggests a different approach, though. No matter what we do in terms of rules and implementation, we’re never going to pack enough information into an Expression title to fulfill this distinguishing function. Nor should we. In some context or another, whatever features of the full Expression record we choose to smush into a title, it won’t be enough and we’ll need more information. Therefore I don’t believe it’s a good use of cataloger time to be formulating complex Expression titles according to even more complex rules.

An absolutely correct analysis. I think it is a mistake to become increasingly theoretical at this point in time when practical issues are coming more and more to the fore. The focus should be on using the time of the cataloger in the best ways possible. So for me, it all comes back to user needs: if it can be demonstrated that users need this additional access badly enough, a case could then be made that perhaps we should devote the additional cataloger resources to it, which would necessarily come at the expense of other things that users want, e.g. cataloging new items.

I was at a conference a few years ago and listened to an excellent presentation by a “strategic futurist” Wayne Hodgins, entitled “Perfecting the Irrelevant”, and part of it is at: He talks about how in 1997, Smith Corona made the best typewriter ever made, won tons of awards for it, and…. immediately shut down production. It turned out that people didn’t want typewriters any longer.

Please understand: I am *not* declaring that providing additional information at this level of the “expression” is irrelevant to the task at hand; I am saying that we must simply find out whether it is or is not irrelevant to our users. At this juncture we must conclude that we do not know.

We also need to keep in mind that with today’s tools, there are options we have never had before, such as collaborating with other agencies who may have different, or supplementary information, so as to display mash-up records for users, or there are even possibilities for all kinds of crowd-sourcing.

Much of this could be enacted rather quickly, but it involves almost a sea change of attitude among catalogers (including myself) concerning who should have “control” of the records, what constitutes high-standards, and so on.