On 6/7/06, Jonathan Rochkind <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> My impression is that there are LOTS of catalogers interested in
> discussing this topic---the future of The Catalog.
As much as I would love to disagree with you, I don't. :) My stance on
this is not to let hackers create applications as they see fit, dear
Dog, no! I'm a die-hard user-centred design and usability guy; my life
is dedicated to develop solutions fit for the user, wheter that be
patrons, catalogers, super-users and otherwise.
I'm more talking about politics of *actually* doing something; I find
it easy to talk about innovation with my collegues, but hard to do in
practice, although we're setting up a "labs" area these days in an
attempt to break free of the tyranny of PRINCE2 and top-down
hiearchies. But hey, i realise this is probably besides the point; if
we have fruitful discussions, maybe someone can do something with it.
> Some coders seem to assume
> that the cataloging community doesn't realize the need for change, or
> doesn't understand the possibilities of the online catalog. I think
> this is more and more NOT the case. Catalogers too realize that
> things are broken, change is the topic of discussion.
Actually, I've found the reverse to be true; catalogers overly aware
of things being broken, but having hackers that either can't see the
problem or are too busy to do so. My feeling about this all is that
we're too busy maintaining the MARC Legacy than create a shining new
one which may or may not solve the problem. Of course, the problem
with MARC is the culture not the technology, so in order to change the
culture we need a *whopping* effort put in by *all* libraries around
the world. No very likely, but it would be fantastic if we could.
> But such common vision is desperately needed.
I'd say such common vision is desperately needed on the management
level! What drives the libraries if not management? Sure, footsoldiers
and captains can push the envelope, but only so far before it becomes
political, huge, convuluted, a project with a steering commitee, and
so forth. For me the strategy is to create prototypes to demonstrate
what we're on about, and in my case I do that *with* catalogers,
reference librarians and other friends around the library / library
world. The idea here is to unite the bottom soldiers in such a way
that the top management can see the light and resource and process
> So we desperately need more forums for discussion involving both
> catalogers and developers, focused on this topic.
No, we desperately need everyone to join the same forums! Not more
forums, but less! Less is more. We don't need yet another commitee; we
need one stronger one. But hey, I'm dreaming.
> As Eric writes, an important topic for discussion is: "To what degree
> should traditional cataloging practices be used in such a thing, or
> to what degree should new and upcoming practices such as FRBR be
The danger here is that automated processes adds a quality check to
our processes, and a lot of people don't like that, especially top
management, because it points out mistakes made in the past.
Technically we don't have many problems, we can do pretty much
anything we'd like to do if we really wanted to, but it's all about
internal politics and shuffeling of resources which decides wheter it
should be done or not. If *management* don't understand what hackers
and catalogers and reference librarians are talking about, we're
Anyway, I don't think we disagree on this, only the part about needed
yet another mailing-list.
"Ultimately, all things are known because you want to believe you know."
- Frank Herbert
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