Re: [RDA-L] Card catalogue lessons

Posting to RDA-L

On 16/03/2012 16:40, Kevin M Randall wrote:

And that kind of cooperation [e.g. with IMDB — JW] is *exactly* the kind of thing that linked data, and data definitions such as the RDA elements, are intended to make possible! Without having precise data definitions, it will never come about. And our current data *can* be transformed. It won’t happen overnight, but nothing does. For an example of data transformation: most libraries have been able to completely get rid of their card catalogs, haven’t they?

I am aware of that. The question is: do we need RDA and the FRBR structures to implement it or could it be done with what we currently have? These are the questions we should be asking.

Strange, in a lot of your past messages I thought you were arguing that we needed more integration of information so people wouldn’t have to have so many different places to search. I must have misunderstood you. And I must have misunderstood you when you said above “It would be much better to try to cooperate with projects such as IMDB in some way”. I guess by cooperate you don’t really mean to be able to have the data connected? And if not, what *do* you mean? (And for the life of me, I cannot figure out *why* it would be wrong to expect to be able to search a library catalog for Steven Spielberg as a producer only, not a director. If I want to find Spielberg-produced DVDs in my library, shouldn’t the catalog make it easy to do that?)

Well, to be honest, I am trying to figure out what the local, library catalog should and shouldn’t be. Some apparently want it to be all things to all people. Others want much less for it.

I am trying to figure out why someone, as more and more digital content emerges and our acquisitions budgets go down, why they would actually open up the local catalog instead of staying with Google, or Facebook, or whatever the big site will be then. There must be a reason, and I hope it won’t be just to find out if the library has a copy of the book they found on Google or Amazon so they won’t have to pay for it.

If the library catalog is not to be all things to all people (which is what the Facebooks and Googles seem to want to be and entering a race like that would ensure that libraries would lose) then why would somebody use the library catalog? Why *should* they use it? The public must find definite, tangible advantages there that they will not find in the Googles. Therefore, while the definition of the “library’s collection” must change to include the materials available on the web, it doesn’t mean *everything* on the web. What does that mean precisely? I don’t know, but it means limits of some kind. Does it mean “connected data”? Not necessarily, but may include various types of federated searching.

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.