Re: [ACAT] which conferences to attend

Posting to Autocat

On 01/04/2013 03:01, Michael Kovnat wrote:

Hello, As a recent library science school graduate who wants a position in cataloging, would it been a good idea for me to attent the following conference? It seems to be mainly about RDA, and I would guess that the audience is older librarians who have a difficult time accepting changes in cataloging guidelines. Here is the site about the conference, which I first learnd of from this list serv.

This statement about “older librarians who have a difficult time accepting changes in cataloging guidelines” has understandably angered some. To me, statements that are put in a civil way, as Michael has done here, and not in an openly insulting way, are absolutely invaluable. People must feel free to speak their minds, even though others may not agree. It is dangerous when people are frightened to share their ideas and opinions because what they think may upset someone. I believe in courtesy above all, because only through courtesy can ideas be shared in a constructive way, although the ideas themselves may make others very unhappy. Charles Darwin’s ideas certainly upset many people and he suffered grave insults, but he remained a very polite person. Frightening people into silence does not change their opinions. This is a problem I have with so-called “political correctness”.

I suspect that many on this list and on other lists, would put me in the category of “having a difficult time accepting changes in cataloging guidelines” although I would dispute that completely. I rather consider it a judgment of a proven professional toward ideas that have never been demonstrated and that have somehow become accepted as dogma. The consequences of implementing these unproven ideas will very possibly be negative. This seems to be what the role of a professional should be instead of merely “accepting changes”. Still, I realize that when one person says something they believe, you can rest assured that many others agree silently. So, in a business, if one person makes a complaint, the wise manager takes it very seriously and assumes that an unknown number of others share the same complaint. This is because the manager knows that very few people will take the time and trouble actually to make a complaint. Most people who are unhappy just silently go somewhere else. You should appreciate a complaint, since it allows you to see the problem and attempt to deal with it.

In my own case–and others have too–I have gone to quite a bit of trouble to demonstrate that I do understand the problems and possibilities available today. But many believe I still don’t understand much and am “having a difficult time accepting changes in cataloging guidelines”. While major changes need to be introduced into our field, my reply is that neither RDA nor FRBR introduce anything of substance that the public will experience as positive. Research could prove me wrong but there has been no research on the public to determine if the kinds of changes envisioned by RDA or FRBR are the kind of changes that will help them. This is a simple statement of fact but many still fervently believe that to state this is to show that you are “having a difficult time accepting changes in cataloging guidelines”.

So, I realize that if there is one person who thinks this way, others do too. There is the idea about that “older librarians … have a difficult time accepting changes in cataloging guidelines.” The question is to find out why such an idea exists. Why do people believe so fervently that RDA and FRBR are steps forward?

Is it really a generational split? And if so, how and why did it come about?