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

Posting to RDA-L

On 24/09/2012 22:19, Kevin M Randall wrote:

James Weinheimer wrote:

In turn, I hope this helps you understand the importance of consistency in library catalogs and that to break that consistency has consequences, some of which may be difficult to foresee even for catalogers.

We must also understand that progress is *always* going to involve varying kinds and degrees of inconsistencies. If we’re going to insist on absolute consistency, we’re going to be stuck with something that’s increasingly out of date and irrelevant

No, the problem is ignoring the practical problems of what the public will experience. Claiming that adding the relator codes will increase access when it will actually decrease access is an excellent example of torturing the language. I think many members of the public, as well as catalogers, would disagree that this should be labeled “progress”. What would progress in the catalog really be? For one thing, to get the thing to cross-reference structures to work once again, and how about those subject headings?

Inconsistency may sometimes be necessary, as I mentioned in my podcast with the subject heading “Labor and laboring classes”, but there should be full recognition of the consequences, and then some kind of provisions made instead of deciding that the public will “have to deal with it and feel lucky”, then foisting off everything on public services, who will have to bear the brunt of the problems.

I agree that the catalog is “increasingly out of date and irrelevant”, but is it because it lacks relator codes? Because of the cataloging abbreviations? Give me a break! Is it because it is so difficult for people to find the WEMI structure? Oh wait! They can find the WEMI incredibly easily right now with the “new” indexing software that allows for facets! And that software is even open source! But of course, all of that is completely irrelevant and is best ignored by everyone!

Why is the catalog “increasingly out of date and irrelevant”? Because it doesn’t fulfill the needs of the public. What are those needs? Well, I have some ideas, and probably everyone has some ideas, but lots and lots and lots of very interesting research needs to be done.

But let’s stop equating the RDA changes with “progress”.