Re: [ACAT] Quantity at the expense of authority work

Posting to Autocat

On 04/09/2013 2.05, Gene Fieg wrote:

What has been your experience when quantity of cataloging is at the expense of caring about authority work?

Also, how does, how will NACO, NAF interact with WorldShare Management Systems?

Concerning your first question, it seems to me that authority control is precisely what defines a catalog as opposed to a list of books (or a list of any other type of materials). Anybody can describe any particular item (a book, a serial, a website, a movie, a score…) and decide that a particular person (entity) may be important to list separately or not. None of that needs any special training or thinking. And it can be very useful for the person who creates the list. They may know, for instance, that they have to look up Dostoyevsky in 20 different ways in their list because they created it.

If that list is to be useful to someone else however, then matters change completely. Others cannot know all of these idiosyncracies. Then, the principle of consistency takes center stage: consistency in describing an item (cataloging rules) and arranging it (assigning headings or URIs). Ensuring that this description can be found–by arrangement of cards or by using a URI makes no real difference–both must be done consistently. When inconsistency enters–especially in authority work–you guarantee that nobody except you will be able to find your record, and others will find the item only if they are lucky: by running across it physically somewhere, or by seeing something as they scan the list you have made.

So, to answer your question about quantity of cataloging at the expense of authority work, I reply: to do so would mean there is no cataloging going on. Instead, people would just be making lists of resources. And anybody can do that.

I think that as we enter the brave new world of the Semantic Web/Linked Data/Web 3.0, these considerations will become far more important than they are now.