ACAT RDA’s impact?

Posting to Autocat

On 11/3/2015 8:07 AM, Gene Fieg wrote:
It all depends on what one means by cataloging. If all you mean is transcription and xerox cataloging, then we are on a speedy path of putting out Yugo catalogs.
If you mean description, access, and classification, as well as creating relational data in the record, well, that takes time. Time is money. And directors may not want of invest in good cataloging if they can get it cheaply from other sources–sources that others have contributed to, but who are not recompensed by the sources or by the library.

Good points. There are other factors as well, many of them beyond the control of librarians or catalogers. “Resource discovery” and “scholarly workflow” have been changing and are continuing to change in fundamental ways, and libraries have to figure out how to adapt.

One of the biggest changes is that resource discovery is taking place more and more often outside of the library tools. So, there are tools with entire scholarly networks such as Mendeley ( ( or even Linkedin ( and Zotero ( where more and more resource discovery is occurring. This is happening for me too. There are other tools as well and I am sure there will be many more in the future. (

Tools such as Mendeley claim to do much of the searching for you. In an earlier message I mentioned a talk at UKSG2014 where a molecular biologist pointed out that it is very important to him NOT to do any active searching and he is very happy with his results (

Whether we like it or not, this is the world that is evolving around us and we either fit in or we don’t. Catalogs could be reduced to simple inventories that exist only to fill “orders” placed by “customers,” rather than an intellectual tool that allows people to discover what a collection contains in meaningful ways. Inventory tools are lots easier–and cheaper!–to create.

Library-created records, whether RDA, AACR2, AACR1, ISBD or non-ISBD, will be only a tiny part of the totality of what people want and will use. (Of course, that’s is the way it’s always been, but let’s ignore that for the moment) I think what catalogers create can be an important part but as the reality of the “single search box” that mashes everything together: all types of metadata made by experts or amateurs or crowd-sourced or automatically by machines, mashed with abstracts, full-text and whatever else, and as the consequences of that become more and more clear to everyone, cataloging will have to adapt to become and remain useful in that kind of environment.

Or not.