Re: [ACAT] BIBFRAME – draft data model for bibliographic data

Posting to Autocat

There has also been a big discussion on this topic on the RDA-L list, where I have participated. My main opinion is here:

To sum up my ideas: the focus should be on the reality of the consequences for the public. The public is interested in the entire catalog–not only the newest parts. That is something that a reference librarian learns very quickly and catalogers should never forget it.

Adding all of these relationships may sound great in theory when we confine ourselves strictly to the graphs and the wonderful vistas that beckon in the future, but the focus should not be on utopias and whether or not catalogers feel comfortable with FRBR and RDA. The focus should be on the absolute reality of what the public will experience.

How will the public react when they search, e.g. Clint Eastwood as a film director and 99% of all the records will not have him coded as a film director? This will be discovered probably within 5 or 10 minutes of when a library makes a search limited to “film directors” or “actors” or “editors” or, take your pick.

There will be immediate consequences when the public discovers that searches by these relator codes provides incorrect results–in fact: these searches can’t work correctly, that is, unless an incredible amount of retrospective work is done. Where will the funds to fix this come from? And even if money should rain down from heaven, it will take a lot more labor to make the catalog work correctly than it ever took for AACR2. We shouldn’t kid ourselves.

This goes for all of the FRBR/RDA relationships that are not currently in our records, which are rather a lot. Those failed searches will be discovered very quickly by the public. I think we can predict that nobody will like it at all and consider it a failure. That’s what I would conclude. It would be hard to conclude anything else.

I realize this rains on everybody’s parade. I really don’t want to be a party-pooper, but it is all just too predictable. There must be answers ready because otherwise who will take the blame when people start pointing fingers?

The catalogers of course. It doesn’t take a trip to a fortune teller to see any of it happening.

So to me, this is similar to legislators in Congress passing a law that proclaims all cars should get 400 miles to the gallon and when it doesn’t happen, to say it’s the workers’ fault. Sure, the sentiment sounds nice but reality will make itself felt sooner or later.

These are some of the consequences of no business plan.