A Fight Over ‘Aliens’

Posting to Autocat

On 6/21/2016 6:26 PM, John Gordon Marr wrote:

The word “illegal” has political, moral and historical implications. For example (as one who recalls WWII), whether something is “legal” or not entirely depends upon who promulgates the laws. A ban or health research into gun ownership is a contemporary example.

There is also plenty of literary warrant for the word “terrorism” but that does not make fear-mongering appropriate. Should not anyone who seeks to dominate and diminish anyone else (such as by carrying weapons in public, or using the flag an speech as weapons, or threatening to deport and surveil masses of people) be called a “terrorist”? Isn’t simply their being fear as a result sufficient?

Of course access will not be hindered. The presence of the former term will direct one to the current. Not believing that undermines the entire concept of “authority work.”

Certainly several terms are required when referring to several different concepts, such as “immigrants, “immigration”, citizenship, authorization, documentation, and extraterrestrial beings.

Being so self-obsessed as a profession to be entirely concerned with our particular catalogs and “customers” limits our considerably more important responsibility to maintain awareness of and participation in the general “political issues, moral issues, and historical issues [paraphrased]”. We all (not just LC) need to be much more aware of the intent of real or potential pejorative speech, which is to use speech as a, simply stated, terrorist weapon of divisiveness.

Please re-read my original post. I show how users will have no choice except to search under three headings to find the same concept as they have today with one. That is a simple fact, unless you attempt to demonstrate me wrong. I would be very interested if you try.

Of course access will be hindered. Explaining why is very technical and is the reason I did not send it off to the NY Times, but Autocat has a different audience.

Catalogers as a profession should not be in the business of maintaining awareness and participation in the general “political issues, moral issues and so on”. The public can be interested in those matters or not. That is entirely their (private) decision. Our primary concern should be on making the catalog as clear and as easy to use as possible. If we go out of our way to make it so complicated that people cannot make decent searches on topics of current topical interest and importance except by jumping through hoops, then I think it’s time for cataloging to head off to the glue factory.

25 years ago when libraries and their catalogs were the only game in town, it was another matter. But now it’s a different world with choices everywhere. We either adapt to that or die.