Re: [RDA-L] Card catalogue lessons

Posting to RDA-L

On 19/03/2012 17:30, Jonathan Rochkind wrote:

Legacy data is always a problem. 

But if we never start doing different, we’ll never have any different.  If you start adding additinal info (like relator codes), there may be a reason to not have the UI expose it until a certain percentage of your data is so ‘enhanced’. There can be automated as well as manual cooperative means to enhance.

But if you never start enhancing, you’re just making your legacy problem even bigger.

Your argument still amounts to “we’ve never done it, therefore the catalog is the wrong tool to do it.” If it’s something important to our users, and we can afford to do it, shouldn’t we start doing it?

Arguments against might be that it’s not something important to our users, or that we in fact can’t afford to do it. But “we’ve never done it so we can’t” is a poor argument, and that’s what “but what about the legacy data” amounts to.

“We’ve never done it” is actually a very good and realistic argument because it certainly affects what our patrons expect and whether we can afford to “fix” it. If we enhance without any hope of making anything useful to people until maybe 20 years down the road or so, that would result in a complete waste of our resources and would be *very* difficult to convince upper echelons is worthwhile.

Staying with the example of relator codes, especially for films, many would say (and I would agree) that our adding them is a complete waste of resources because it duplicates information found elsewhere. Why devote resources to create a product that can only be inferior to what is already there? This would not be making our legacy problems even bigger: we should instead be concerning ourselves with what we can really and truly do that isn’t found elsewhere. What is it that is unique that library catalogs provide?

I think there is a lot library catalogs can provide this way, but certainly not relator codes.