Re: [RDA-L] Cataloging Matters No. 16

On 20/09/2012 02:31, Karen Coyle wrote:

Two comments:

 1) some of these can be added, albeit not perfectly, using automated processing. If a 245 $c says: “illustrated by Joe Blow” and there’s an added entry for “Blow, Joe,” then the role can be added. No role in the 100 almost always means “author.”

2) one of the main arguments for cloud computing is that there is a fair amount of wasted space/time/effort in having copies of bibliographic records in the many tens of thousands of library catalogs. If we had a catalog “cloud” then this information would only be needed to be added once per manifestation, not once per every copy of every manifestation in every catalog. This is the direction that OCLC is going in, but it could also be done with different technology (that is, not necessarily WorldCat as we know it today).

My own comments:

1) I cannot agree that no role in the 100 almost always means “author” because there are lots of different roles, plus there are lots of people mentioned in notes, especially in the pre-AACR2 records which cannot be ignored. Also, how about all of the different languages? As I mentioned in my podcast, while I can imagine a lot of automated solutions, I can’t imagine that any of them would work! If something like this could be programmed, then a similar program for “upgrading” the cataloging abbreviations would quite literally be child’s play!

2) The catalog “cloud” with single work and expression records would not save any meaningful cataloger time, since these entities would only recreate what we do today with derived records (where the cataloger finds a related record and adds only the information for the specific edition/manifestation). As far as saving computer space/time/effort, Moore’s law that “the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years” made in 1965 still holds. This is one of the main reasons why computers are getting so incredibly fast that any saving in this sense is meaningless. On the other hand, having single work and expression records has several problems, for instance, of “who owns and controls access to those records”–a very important concern in these fighting days of intellectual property rights–plus of course, connectivity problems as Mac is always quick to point out.

Of course, there is also the fact that achieving the FRBR user tasks can already be done with modern indexing software using facets, as in the Worldcat database, although it can be done with many versions of open-source software as well. The public can do the FRBR user tasks right now very nicely and quickly. True, the user interfaces must be improved but that is an eminently fixable problem. As I have mentioned before, this amazing achievement has been met more with embarrassment than applause and congratulations, which I find striking.

Likening our current catalogs to “legacy data”, as several have done, (I am not saying you have done this, Karen) is very unfortunate in my view. It lessens the importance of what we have now for a vague and obscure vision of some wondrous future laid out by designers while there have never been any studies to discover if the public actually wants any of it or not.

Our current catalogs are not “legacy data” and catalogers should be fighting strenuously against such a characterization. They are, in fact, everything that we have. To decrease access to that information makes no sense to me, and to claim that the changes with RDA and FRBR will actually increase access is too Orwellian for my taste. I took that part out of my podcast since it was too long, but to say that introducing relator codes etc. to RDA will increase access is similar to that part in 1984, when the government changed the chocolate ration from 30 grams to 20 grams and they claimed that this was increasing the ration.
“It appeared that there had even been demonstrations to thank Big Brother for raising the chocolate ration to twenty grammes a week. And only yesterday, he reflected, it had been announced that the ration was to be reduced to twenty grammes a week. Was it possible that they could swallow that, after only twenty-four hours? Yes, they swallowed it.” (From Chapter 5 of 1984. By the way, because of copyright concerns over George Orwell’s works, I don’t believe that people in the U.S. are supposed to click on this link!)

All of these considerations show more and more that RDA and FRBR are intellectual/academic constructs and divorced from the world of reality.