Re: [ACAT] GMD and RDA revisited

Posting to Autocat

On 01/02/2013 18:32, Julie Moore wrote:

…(they actually ended up dissolving my Tech Services, and now have Cataloging under IT rule), where we provide the MARC records, and IT (with Reference, but without input or consultation from Cataloging) does whatever they want with them to display the records however they think is best for the patrons.


It does kind of blow a hole in my argument that we need to keep the GMD, though … seeing that it’s already gone in my own OPAC! And evidently, as Shana said earlier, NOBODY NOTICED. More importantly, nobody cares.

A few points:

First: yes, I was kidding about feeling under attack. But even so, being under attack doesn’t stop my replies and my questions and my conclusions. That’s what I meant.

But to pass onto other, more important matters: what I see with the rise of RDA is what you seem to be experiencing within your own library. RDA is based on IT thinking, that is, the unquestioning requirement to turn our records into data. All must accept that this is good, and nobody has to show what many of these changes have to do with data (rule of three?), while any consequences will have to be borne by whomever suffers. It is very difficult to maintain that RDA is based on the needs of the public when no research has been done, no product testing on the public, and so on. Saying that everybody needs the FRBR user tasks has turned out to be a joke, and now we hear that everything has to be data. The “improvements” to the GMD are a perfect example of all of this. The result is public incomprehension. And the fact that it is incomprehensible doesn’t matter because that will be someone else’s problem to solve! The graphic designer, or the systems guy, or each and every librarian in each and every library.

Of course, that is IT thinking–not the thinking of traditional librarianship, which at least pretends to put the user as number one.

Concerning your last point about nobody noticing the disappearance of the GMD, I would like to say that it is not so simple. Just because nobody complains doesn’t mean many aren’t having problems. The results of a catalog breakdown are different from a breakdown in someone’s plumbing system. When your plumbing is broken, you know it because you are standing hip-deep in water that is in your basement. When your brakes don’t work in your car, that is pretty obvious, too.

When a catalog breaks down, it is much less obvious–you get confusion. People are always confused by catalogs anyway and hate to have to ask questions. In the business world, this is considered a serious problem: when a person gets fed up with your business or your product and–says nothing. Those who complain will at least give you a chance to fix matters in some way, but those who don’t complain and go away will probably be lost to you forever. So it is very difficult to say if anyone noticed, or in other words, experienced difficulties, or not.

In addition, many of these kinds of problems are just too complicated or subtle for non-experts to grasp. An excellent example of this is a talk by Clay Shirkey, a highly distinguished scholar and web thinker. He liked a project by the Smithsonian, and I did (do) too. I analyzed this project slightly and the main discussion took place on the NGC4LIB list I showed what access really was, and really wasn’t, by analysing a part of that project–as a cataloger.

So, perhaps people have noticed, or would appreciate having things pointed out to them.