Re: [ACAT] make real cataloging courses a requirement for graduation (was Adios

On 9/28/2013 5:27 PM, Marian Veld wrote:

 I agree with everything you’ve said. But I do think RDA, Bibframe, and FRBR are a step in the right direction. They might not fix the broken tools we have, but at least they bring us one step closer to the modern world while we continue to discuss how to bring our special expertise to the information age.

That would be nice to believe that RDA, Bibframe and FRBR are a step in the right direction but it has never been demonstrated. Even Bibframe, while I agree that our current ISO2709 format must change, I still do
not completely understand who it is aimed at. It seems as if it will still be a format used only by libraries. If we want to get into areas outside libraries, we will have to use other formats run by others, e.g. does not use FRBR structures, nor are there any plans for them (so far as I am aware). Other formats that I am aware of do not have anything like an FRBR structure. Some of those are being used rather widely right now. And ultimately, I have not heard anyone even suggest that RDA, FRBR and Bibframe will bring people back to using library catalogs. In fact, I have seen more and more articles similar to this one: “Giving up on discovery”, where the author writes:
“Taking a step back from the discovery layer, one can see that it is really a response to years of decline with regard to the library catalog as a place to start research. We tried sexifying the catalog with various features over the previous decade: RSS feeds, call number texting, LibraryThing recommendations, etc. None of those could really halt the decline. So now we’ve dropped the discovery layer on top of that, and while behind that interface now sits an infinitely larger pool of content, it would seem that hmost users still see it for what is is, i.e.- a librarianly window into a world that we define. And so they have not returned in droves from Google and Co.; the discovery layer solves a ‘problem’ that we’ve defined, not our users. Given the level of financial and organizational investment in these tools, that’s a less than ideal outcome.”

That is a perceptive comment: it is a problem that we have defined, not our users. He then suggests that library catalogs should exist only for inventory purposes, that is, so that people will discover the information and books they need elsewhere while the library catalog, which should have only enough information for inventory purposes, will allow people to know if the library has a copy or provides access. Therefore, in FRBR terms, the catalog would be *only* for “obtain”. I think a whole lot of people would agree with that. (there is historical precedent for that idea, and it would make an interesting research project for someone)

If we want people to be able to do the FRBR user tasks, it is a fact that it can be done right now using facets (as I have repeatedly demonstrated) but apparently, nobody cares enough to do it. At the same time RDA is discussed a lot but rarely, if even discussed are its incredible costs and need for huge retrospective conversion projects.

If we want the public to use the library catalog for discovery purposes–and I find the idea frightening to leave it all in the hands of private enterprise, who openly admit that they are doing it all for profit–we must look at it completely differently and leave our pet theories behind. We must also be willing to submit what we do to success and failure. This means to demonstrate and prove these ideas, such as putting the utility of FRBR to the test. So far, FRBR is less than a success, while RDA is bogged down in matters of “description” (in my opinion, re-opening questions that were solved long ago) and cares little or nothing for “access”, but it is precisely access (or discovery) that matters to everybody.

I still believe however, that the library catalog could be immensely useful to people for discovery purposes-and it could be demonstrated to all–but much would have to really change for that to happen.