Re: [RDA-L] 336, 337, 338 and the post-MARC environment

Posting to RDA-L

On 09/05/2013 22:17, Jonathan Rochkind wrote:

On 5/9/2013 3:56 PM, Gene Fieg wrote:

And how are these field going to be displayed in an easily understandable manner to the patron. Will we need a priest of RDA near the shoulder of every patron as she/he searches for that DVD she knows is in the library somewhere, because the AACR2 catalog told her so?

Does this question apply to MARC leader, 006, 007, and 008 too? Surely our catalogs were completely useless for the past 40 years, because they contained all this data which is not directly intelligible? Or no, it’s because of those priests of MARC you were talking about that we all had, right?

Oh, it’s not that the catalogs were useless, but that all those fixed fields were entirely useless, just fortunately including data nobody cared about anyway — but for some reason we’ve spent literally millions of person hours continuing to enter that useless data for 40 years anyway?

Come on. Data that is not meant to be directly intelligible by end-users is nothing new to us.

So, does it now make sense to increase the amount of information that nobody uses, or can use?

Of course, what does make sense is that sooner or later, somebody, somewhere, sometime, will determine what is useful and what is not. Whenever someone is looking at work being done, they understand that many times it is easier to just continue letting people do exactly what they have always done than to try to (gasp!) change it which will always create a huge backlash! How long did it take before the fixed field information “Main entry in the body of the entry” was finally eliminated because people finally recognized it was useless to everybody? It wasn’t hard to do–it only took a fraction of a second, but nobody needed it. How much of the fixed field information has never been used at all? Probably quite a bit. I won’t enter the danger zone of the variable fields! Roy Tennant has been making the first forays in that direction.

When cataloging was a walled-off, semi-cloistered occupation, we could get by with it but those days are gone. They are as dead as those beautiful medieval cloisters that I love to visit.

It is another world today.