RDA-L Re: Re: RE: Re: RE: Re: Re: Catalogue usage

On 08/04/2015 0.05, Gene Fieg wrote:
> So if you want more patronage at your or anybody’s library, make sure > that the display at any library is at least recognizable.

While I personally agree with this, there are several inescapable points:

1) as I wrote in one post, linked data will be implemented sooner or later, and as a result, it will be very difficult to predict what any display will be. Those decisions will be put into so many hands and will be in so many places that it will be very difficult to predict what any final result will look like. Certainly, the local agency will be able to decide *where* a part of the linked data will display: as a box in the right-hand corner with a certain label that explains where it comes from; or it can display as a box that pops up when you click it or run the mouse over it. (The concept of having and using a mouse may be becoming obsolete even now!) But the information that comes from the outside agency and what you can do with it will be difficult to predict. Therefore, what the ultimate displays may look like, and how a user will react to that display and change it for his or her own purposes, it becomes practically impossible to predict. I think this is unavoidable.

2) there is a big difference between the display of an individual record and the display of “search results”. My own experience is that the public has relatively little trouble dealing with the display of an individual record. That’s because they don’t care about the majority of the information they see in an individual record. As long as they can see the title, the authors, the call number (or link) and maybe, date and edition, then that is enough for almost all of their needs. If they like what they see, they go off to look at the item; if they don’t like it, they go on to the next record. If they don’t like that one either, they might look at a couple more before they give up and go elsewhere. Even in the linked data universe, I don’t see how this behavior will change much, if at all.

By the way, even scholars don’t need or want this high level of information all the time. Certainly, in highly specific cases, e.g. when someone is studying the textual criticism of Dante, they need very specific information, but there are not that many such scholars and in any case, even those scholars don’t need that level for *all* of their information needs. Just in very specific times and very specific areas do they need that type of information. It’s the library collection managers who need that level of information on all items all the time, and that is primarily for inventory purposes. This is not saying that inventory information is unimportant: internal needs are *just as important* as users needs.

In my experience, the places where people have the most problems have to do with the catalog itself: how to get decent search results from it; what a “search result” even means to them. Our traditional methods, inherited from Cutter … [et al.] have simply blown up on the web. Subjects, potentially the most unique and useful bits of information found in (at least) US-type library catalogs, have become so difficult to use coherently that even those who understand how they work (me, for instance) *give up* because actually doing it is so painful. (My Cataloging Matters no. 18: Problems with Library Catalogs https://blog.jweinheimer.net/2013/02/catalog-matters-podcast-no-18-problems.html) If I have such problems, I must assume that the average person is completely lost and concludes that our tools are no good.

I don’t see how linked data can fix this kind of fundamental problem, and in fact, as our bibliographic records get mushed in with other types of “data”: administrative, non-library, other rules, non-rules, personal, actual content, and so on, I don’t know how anything can be built that will be other than chaotic, especially for an average user. It will be a huge undertaking.

If there is any chance of building something that will make sense, it will be doing what Amanda is doing: checking with the people who are using it(!! What a surprising idea!!), finding out how it works for them and how it doesn’t work, so that it can be improved. Or entirely new directions may be decided upon.

James Weinheimer weinheimer.jim.l@gmail.com First Thus https://blog.jweinheimer.net First Thus Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/FirstThus Cooperative Cataloging Rules http://sites.google.com/site/opencatalogingrules/ Cataloging Matters Podcasts https://blog.jweinheimer.net/cataloging-matters-podcasts