Re: GMD and RDA revisited

Posting to Autocat

On 31/01/2013 23:37, Audrey Driscoll wrote:

So now I have a question for James — why did you think reconsidering the GMD was a good idea? And how would you have solved the problem of identifying format so it works for users? (This is not an attack; I’m curious). There seems to be a split in attitude toward the GMD between academic and public libraries. As Mac mentioned, the GMD alerts the catalogue user to available formats at the earliest opportunity — the hit list or browse list. (But of course no one does browse searches any more).

Go ahead and attack–I’m used to it by now! 🙂

I believe that sooner or later, the cataloging community is going to have to ask the Lubetsky question once again: “Is this rule necessary?” but as I mentioned before, this will be changed into “Is this rule *change* necessary?” and will also be aimed at all cataloging methods: fields, procedures, methods, and so on. Therefore, reconsidering the GMD is a part of this.

There are very legitimate reasons to reconsider it too, as Shana McDonald pointed out very ably. But the solution that RDA has come up with for the GMD is incomprehensible–everyone agrees that it is incomprehensible. This points out a major problem with RDA as opposed to the implementers of AACR2 and implementers of previous codes. At least with AACR2 and earlier projects, those people had to keep the public in mind because their final product was designed to be seen by the public. With RDA, the final product, as we are told over and over again, is designed for machines, so that the machines can “manipulate” the data. The final product (that is, something coherent to a human being) is someone else’s concern. So, it becomes easy to say that “somebody” will make icons that will be universally understood. Designing icons for “tactile” or “unmediated” is an incredible undertaking. Sure, somebody can make an image–I can do it–but no one will understand it, so the solution is to display the icon that nobody understands and when the mouse arrow rolls over it (by chance, I guess), the “alt” value in the image link will display <img src=“http://myiconforunmediated” alt=”unmediated???”> and you are stuck with exactly the same problem: what text do you put in there that people can understand?

For “tactile”, I immediately think of an icon showing a smiling Sylvio Berlusconi with his arms around Ruby Rubacuori (the underage girl he is accused of fooling around with) but it may get the idea across, I doubt it would be accepted. 🙂

But, to answer your question, I would put the public first instead of machines, and ask, “Is this rule change necessary?” Studies would have to be made that demonstrate when there is a search result, e.g. for Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms”, the public needs to have the format facets more complex than what they see here (in the left menu), and how complex those facets should become.

Then, these results have to be balanced by practical considerations: how much extra work is it for the catalogers? Will it be worthwhile for them? Are the older records to be updated? (No) What will be the consequences to the public when they have incorrect search results or more complex searches? Will it be worthwhile for them?

My own opinion? One facet I would love would be a “Free online materials” facet that I could click on to find things that I can get here and now. For instance, I would love the “Farewell to Arms” search to give me some quick links to the public domain video starring Gary Cooper in and I think a lot of people would love such a facet.

The icon? Who knows, but there may be hope with this:

It seems to me that sooner or later, we must realize that above all else, we are making “records” for “people”. The data for machines must take a second place. I discussed this a bit in my last podcast.



One Comment

  1. Scribe said:

    I think that catalogers and metadata people often lose sight of the user in the unending grind of creating data. I would argue that some catalogers never actually arrive at the concept of working for the user at all. It&#39;s certainly a trap that we set for ourselves a long time ago.

    February 1, 2013

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