Re: [ACAT] WEMI vs. Work/Instance

Posting to Autocat

On 04/12/2012 19:19, Kevin M Randall wrote:

“Items” is entirely a matter of the level of analysis. How much of something someone wants to use is not generally of any concern to the cataloger. If someone wants only the introduction to a book, yes, they DO want the whole book, if that’s the where they are going to find that introduction. If someone wants only one 8-bar clip out of a sound recording, yes, the DO want the whole sound recording, regardless of how much of it they want or don’t want to use. Unless you’re arguing that we should somehow be cataloging down to the individual words in a book, or notes (or bytes?) in a sound recording.

I believe many people would say that “cataloging down to the individual words in a book” is precisely what Google does. I personally would not argue that this is true, but it certainly is the case that people can dig information out of a much bigger work easier than before.

Besides, I am not discussing what we should or should not be doing here. I am considering what it is that people want–and what they have wanted in the past. Has it changed or not? When I wanted the single article out of a journal and had to get the entire year, or I wanted to get a single Shakespeare play and found myself carrying around his collected works, that was definitely not what I wanted. I wanted the article, or the single play.

When you work with students who have just a few weeks to throw together a paper, there is no way that they want a stack of books. They want bits and pieces from those books so you have to show them how to use indexes and bibliographies, but they take the whole books because they have no choice.

What would happen if they had a choice? They definitely will have such a choice, and perhaps very soon. When the judge disallowed the Google Books/Publishers agreement, it just bought libraries a little time to breathe, but it will happen sooner or later. This cannot be stopped forever and, except for one judge, could have happened already.

This is why I think the challenge before the cataloging world is to figure out how to make our records work coherently and usefully with full-text searching. The strengths of the catalog record supplement the weaknesses of full-text searching and vice versa. The experiments I have seen where the two exist, e.g. Google Books, have not been, in my opinion, successful. Some journal databases seem to be a little better perhaps but they still do not work very well and capitalizing on the strengths of both systems–at least not what I have seen.

How could our records work well in conjunction with something like Google Books? There is no doubt that this is what will happen sooner or later, and we either solve it or disappear. I think everybody knows it.

But I keep forgetting: we know that RDA and FRBR provide what the people want because those initiatives have been built from the great and deep researches that the library world has done on the information behavior and information needs of the public.