Re: [RDA-L] Card catalogue lessons

Posting to RDA-L

On 16/03/2012 23:26, Kevin M Randall wrote:


Finally, why is it wrong to expect to search a library catalog for Steven Spielberg as a producer only? Because it’s not the right tool, whether anybody likes it or not. You don’t use JSTOR for the latest news on Putin’s election. Lexis-Nexis is not the best tool for in-depth research on biblical archaeology. You don’t use a hammer for a ripsaw or a motorcycle for a pickup truck. People can learn this although they may not like it.

Excuse me, but I find it absolutely preposterous that the library catalog is NOT the correct tool to search for locally-held DVDs for which Steven Spielberg was producer only, not director. Please explain this outrageous assertion.

I shall focus on this statement which you claim is so outrageous.

Why is the local catalog definitely not the correct tool here? Because of a few facts: There is LCRI 21.0D where it is stipulated that LC will not put in relator codes. They are also not required in BIBCO. Consequently many, many libraries follow these directives. Whenever a library accepts LC or BIBCO copy, they can, but do not have to, decide to add the relator codes themselves, but doing so demands local work that necessarily takes away from other tasks catalogers could be doing and detracts from productivity. Therefore, this is the kind of decision that should only be taken by an institution, not by individual catalogers.

There is also the little problem that relators are not in the records that have been created in the past. If a catalog is not designed to provide reliable results, e.g. the producer code is added into only the newest records resulting in perhaps only 5% or 10% of all producers of movies being coded, to allow such a search on the records produces a false result, so that the searcher must be made aware of the fact that this search only encompasses a relatively small part of all of the movie producers. Perhaps the result does not have to be 100%, but it certainly has to be 80% to 90% to provide some sort of result that the searcher can rely upon. So, if any particular local catalog has decided to devote the resources to add the publisher code where it is supposed to go, that is fine, but that goes beyond the normal bibliographic standards and other local catalogs can decide otherwise.

There are many points that someone can consider to be “outrageous”. For instance, ending series authority control, that RDA requires only a single author to be traced, that 245$b is optional, even that RDA is supposed to be accepted without any concern for the serious practical consequences, that is, without supplying a business case. Also in my own opinion, to expect catalogers to do even more with dwindling resources is rather outrageous and can lead to nothing good.

Non-librarians may find the fact that they have to search multiple separate databases and indexes for journal articles to be outrageous. Another point is that for non-roman languages, searchers must refer to some transliteration tables that they often find incorrect or semi-comprehensible. Non-catalog librarians are often shocked that a variant ISBN does not automatically require a new record, or when people discover that authors with pseudonyms have to be searched separately under each pseudonym (separate bibliographic identities) except for pre-20th century authors (sometimes!) they find that outrageous. My own pet peeve has been that translators have been very rarely traced. (At the same time, I did like that it was less work!)

I could go on, but I won’t. I will only say that in the future, as people will be able to do more and more with full-text, people will doubtlessly find more and more “outrageous” problems with library catalogs.

These are some of the ways the tool we are creating works. As with every tool, it has its limitations. At least with producers of movies, there is the IMDB.