Seeing the Catalog through the Eyes of the Public (Was: RDA and the Plague)

Posting to Autocat

On 24/04/2013 14:49, Cherie Hill wrote:

Yes James. And in keeping with the RDA and the plague theme … 

I really don’t like the RDA Media Type term “unmediated.” When a student or patron sees this term in the online catalog, will they really understand what that term means? To me it sounds like a “librarian” kind of term that no one will be able to comprehend.


Beartooth wrote (concerning the need to make the question of making business case for libraries):

There are a great many institutions which would scorn the question on the valid grounds that they are not businesses — foundations, armies, governments, and churches, among others. Sure, all have budgets, even if those come from endowments, or taxpayers, or wherever ; and their budgets constrain their actions in ways they have to think out. That doesn’t dictate how they think them out.

I have changed the subject line here since I fear I am at risk of expulsion, and would be banished in a similar way to the fellow in this clip (only to the end of the first scene)  🙂 (A great scene!)

Personally, I agree with Beartooth–some institutions should not have to justify themselves and libraries should be a part of that, but history is littered with “shoulds” and “coulds” and “woulds”. It turns out that more and more members of the public are able to get some of the best information they have ever gotten in their lives just by typing in a couple of words and clicking a button. Libraries have not been a part of that. Is it all perfect? Of course not, but it is much better than these people have ever experienced (or in other words, it is “good enough”); it’s simple and it is much easier than libraries ever were. We can all assume it will only get better in the future. Included in this nebulous term “members of the public” are local members of boards who determine the budgets of libraries. This is their experience. Younger people who didn’t grow up with the good feelings toward libraries that earlier generations had will be even less inclined to see libraries through rose-colored glasses.

I won’t delineate again the reasons and consequences of not looking at libraries and their tools through the eyes of the “public”, that is, through the eyes of those who are supposed to use what we make, but I will say that if you don’t consider their viewpoints, you shouldn’t be surprised if they reject what you make. One thing I am sure of: if you make something that is irrelevant to the needs of 99% of your “customers”, it will be incredibly tough to get anybody to give you money so you can build it.