ACAT Improving catalogues

On 09/09/2014 14.11, Scott R Piepenburg wrote:

In one situation I was at, it was highly desirable for people to be able to say “I want Tom Hanks movies where he was an actor as opposed to a director” or I want the works of Jim Steinman as a composer versus a performer.” Maybe it is an isolated situation, but in this particular location, it was highly useful to be able to find people who serve multiple roles (actor, producer, director, etc.) to the exclusion of others. The challenge is first to code the information, then to make a user-friendly and useful interface to be able to retrieve it.

Yes, I agree with this. People have asked these kinds of questions for years and they have gone to the tools that provide them. For movies, there was the serial “Film directors : a complete guide” and other directories. For music, there have been “Who’s who in music” and “Musician’s directory” among others. Plus there was the occasional almanac or two.

Today however, for movies, you can go to the IMDB, among other places. Here is Tom Hank’s page. I have found Google itself to be pretty good too. For music, I am not quite so sure if there is one “best” but there is Here is the page for Jim Steinman and of course, we should not forget about Wikipedia for any of this.

This is so simple, and free (amazingly!) that the next question seems obvious enough: why should we spend our precious resources re-creating things that already exist? It would take a long, long, long time (if every!) before anything we do could be nearly as good as these tools are right now–and by that time (after a few decades) what will exist for the public then?! The mind boggles at what there could be in only five years, much less 20 or 30. The very first Iphone was in 2007 and look at everything that has happened since then.

So, what should we do? Do we spend our time adding these relator codes to our records, when we know that anything we make will remain demonstrably inferior to those other tools? Why? Or do we try to work with these other tools in all kinds of cool ways? Again, that is a task primarily for the computer technicians, and lots of them are making these sorts of tools right now. This would leave catalogers to work on what they do best.

The information that is in our records right now could be used far better than it is. That is where our focus should be.