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

Posting to RDA-L

Bernhard offered an excellent reply. I want only to mention:

On 24/09/2012 23:25, Brenndorfer, Thomas wrote:

There is nothing new being added here. Retrospective conversion will always be an issue with every new code or tag. This doesn’t begin or end with RDA.

Absolutely true. In my podcast, I discussed the introduction of AACR2, which led to incredible changes. At least the catalogers back then understood the added complexity for the public, took those changes seriously and tried to figure out some sort of solutions.

The more we get data in this form, the ***EASIER*** it will become. The more we move to what is in RDA, with its database-friendly (and therefore ultimately user-friendly) approach, the ***EASIER*** it will become. Perpetuating bad practice for some false premise of “less access” based upon functionality that is entirely optional until one is ready is incredibly bad advice.

This is yet another consequence of not having a valid business case. How many more years (and how much more money and how many more scarce library resources) will be needed to get even a halfway decent result? Nobody knows! Nobody even knows what a “halfway decent result” means! In one organization I worked at, there was a retrospective conversion project done through automated means and the result was 70% satisfactory results. That result was considered a failure because, while 70% may not sound all that bad, it also meant that 30% of the collection was inaccessible! Almost 1/3! When I talked about this with one of the IT people who dreamed up the project, I’ll never forget what this person said, “Well, 70% is good enough for me!”

Of course, this person hadn’t mentioned this little bit of information at the beginning of the project and in any case, it wasn’t that person’s decision to make. The project was labeled a success on the person’s CV, an interesting point I think.

Finally, the “less access” is not a false premise but an indisputable fact. That must be acknowledged. To maintain that it is not less access is to ignore reality. Perhaps some may claim that it is a sad, necessary step toward the radiant heights of FRBR, but the immediate effects, lasting into an unknown number of years, will be “less access”.