Posting to RDA-L
On 05/17/2011 10:43 PM, Jonathan Rochkind wrote:
Yeah, if RDA _required_ all capital titles, that might be bad. I don’t think anyone thinks all capital titles are preferable.
But in the actual real world eco-system, where we’re often going to be harvesting data from other sources rather than creating it ourselves from — and not going to have time to individually review and fix each record — and that’s the environment we’re going to be in like it or not (and it’s got some positives, that environment) — it does not seem a bad choice to me to ALLOW you to take titles in the capitalization they are provided in.
It certainly does not seem disastrous. Certainly if any catalogers do have the time to fix those before or once the record is in a cooperative cataloging store, that would be a service to the rest of us. Nobody is arguing that they like all-capital titles.
Jonathan points to the exact problem: we are supposed to be “harvesting data” from other sources rather than creating it for ourselves, *and* not review and edit each record individually. I agree that we absolutely must do this, but something highly important is assumed here: that the information in the records you are harvesting is of *sufficient quality*.
When an experienced cataloger sees a record such as have been mentioned here–all caps, when *no standard* allows it: not ONIX, not AACR2 or any previous library cataloging rules, no citation guides, or anything else that I am aware of, the cataloger immediately become suspicious. In the past, there has been a great deal of variation allowed in these standards just as there are in in the library catalog: I remember seeing cards that were in all lower case except for the first word. It made German look very strange. I even found an example: http://tinyurl.com/67vt5z6 (I don’t know if this was Princeton specific or not, but probably not, but obviously a Taylorist procedure, just as the RDA acceptance of all caps also betrays a Taylorist mentality) Also, using all caps for acquisitions records provided (still provides) information in itself: BEWARE! This is an order record!. The major variation in all of these methods is Title case, which seems to be followed in most of the citation guides, but no bibliographic standard I have seen allows all caps.
So, the experienced cataloger will look at a record with this kind of absolutely elementary error and immediately think: “What else is wrong with this stinky record?” because if the elementary part is so obviously bad, what about the parts that really are difficult?
I agree that our records must interoperate with other metadata records on the web, and harvesting is certainly one way to do it, although the methods will vary. Ultimately though, the methods don’t matter: the records must work coherently with the others and the idea of data standardization in some sense becomes unavoidable. It seems to me that a record in all caps provides a clear indication that it *does not follow any standards at all* and if we want our standardized records to interoperate with these other records in a coherent way, editing will be unavoidable if we want to provide some level of standards (which I think is absolutely vital). Otherwise, we just throw up our hands, harvest any kind of junk that comes our way and hang the consequences both to ourselves and our patrons. We wouldn’t stand for something like this in our water: “Well, only 25% of the wells have typhoid,” or that only 50% of the rubber that goes into making the tires on our cars is reliable.
How can we try to resolve this in the real world? By trying *very hard* to coordinate metadata creators into following some basic, minimum levels of shared standards. Otherwise, I see the only option as chaos and when there are no standards the only remaining choice is probably the Google/Yahoo/Bing/etc. algorithmic solutions. The one thing, and the one thing only, that catalogers can provide to automatically-created metadata records is standardization. If that is not seen as important, it seems that we might as well throw away our cataloging manuals and look for other jobs.
Apologies for being so gloomy.