Re: The Process of Cataloging in the Future

Posting to RadCat

On 21/05/2013 16:01, Christine Schwartz wrote:

Depending on the type of library–I like Melodie work in at a large theological research library–the “more and more information on the web” is a pipe dream because of US copyright law. Our library users–PhD students and researchers in particular–remain heavy users of monographic, print materials. I don’t see that changing anytime soon even though gradually more of the resources they need will be available on the internet. We do a lot of digitization, but only for pre-1923 imprints–a limited section that in no way represents the true breath of our collections.

As for now, I completely agree. But I was discussing the process of cataloging in the future. We are in a transitional moment in the history of information. Publishers will not be able to hold out against public demand forever and something will happen sooner or later. The Google-Publishers agreement was shot down in the courts but all that means is: it will happen later, because absolutely everybody including the judge said that making the entire corpus of Google Books available would be a great benefit for all mankind. And someday it will be.

Even the authors themselves are beginning to see the publishers as much a hindrance as a help. A great example of the debate is Scott Turow’s article “The slow death of the American author” and its reception. Much of the comment by other authors about this article (and others) are decidedly negative. A simple Google search reveals a lot of discord.

Since everything published today is on a computer, the decision to let out the electronic files could occur incredibly quickly since pdfs can be made easily and cheaply, and other formats are not much more difficult to make. All the technology is in place now. It just needs a few people in certain positions to change their minds, and then everyone else would have to follow. Publishing is in serious trouble so those important people will have to make that decision, sooner or later.

And that is when the process of cataloging will change, perhaps fundamentally. I think it has already, since many would love the materials available in the Internet Archive, Gallica, etc. but they don’t know about them. And that’s just scanned books. If they knew these materials existed, they would use them more, I am sure.

Some very good points have been made in this discussion. I must consider some more.