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Wanda and Erik were in Decatur, GA on Thursday attending an ASERL institute on the new age of discovery. Karen Calhoun kicked things off with a presentation on the need to change library systems, bibliographic control, and user services to keep the library a relevant part of the research process. Some interesting links that she referred to are:

The morning discussion panel included Andrew Pace (NCSU/Endeca), Marshall Breeding (Vanderbilt/Primo), and Judi Brien (U. Rochester/eXtensible Catalog). The presentations included overviews of C4 (eXtensible Catalog), NCSU Endeca, and Vanderbilt’s Primo system. some interesting ideas discussed included creating interoperable systems, key usability features (facet use, enhanced info), and metadata issues (data normalization, indexing, display).

In the first afternoon session, Beth Davis-Brown presented on LC’s external advisory committee on the future of cataloging. She quickly covered the scope and content of the meetings and pointed to some interesting documents and webcasts created for the three meetings. One of my favorites is Calhoun’s response to the background paper.

Roberta Winjum looked at the work of catalogers and cataloging. She listed two essential features of the cataloger in 2007:

  • Must be able to thrive in an environment of constant change
  • Must be able to both respond to and initiate change

Roberta used some interesting quotes to spark discussion. . .(quotes are mostly accurate and somewhat cited. . .)

“There is a disconnect between the effort libraries expend on verifying individual lc records for monographs, and the fact that thousands of record for large sets enter the catalog almost unnoticed”

  • Lack of trust, have to verify records
  • Law of diminishing returns – how much time is it worth?
  • It takes as much energy to load sets into collections as it does to describe a single book
  • Isn’t it all about quality vs quantity? – define quality, where are the quantifiable measures? Have we ever analyzed what quality means?
  • How do you back away from over-analysis of copy cataloging?
  • If our users start with web-searching, why is subject-descriptive cataloging important?
  • Is a hybrid system of metadata / full text indexing a good approach?
  • Two libraries are doing authority work on the same record, we need a different working model so that improvements do not get made over and over.
  • How do contractual limits impact local changes?
  • What do you feel like you gain from doing all this – series analysis – series provides a valuable access point.
  • Someone should set themselves up as the big library to put their best records into LC (I think LC did this – did it work?)

“The universe of book published every year is much smaller and much more manageable than the universe of web sites; this is the niche of sources to which professional cataloging should be primarily devoted” – Thomas Mann

“Within five years we’ll be past the notion that th online catalog is the way you find things in libraries” – Calhoun report 2005

  • How could we not have a catalog?
  • Will there still be a role for describing resources?

Perhaps the most disastrous and shortsighted aspect of policy decisions such as minimal level records and the abandonment of series authorities is the fact that future technological capabilities will depend – as they do now – on the presence rather than absence of information in the record – David Bade – MLA 2006, May

  • The question for cataloging is how does the record get created – other issues are term extraction, name, date, incorporation of automation with human analysis
  • Think about needs of discovery systems/users, not on methods, there are more important things than description,
  • What about NLp/ir – what value can be added?
  • Can we be part of the changing nature of record creation/description?
  • Can we move from where we are to new methods for addressing needs? Can we find our niche

There is a professional obsession with the bibliographic record – it’s unhealthy (Anthony Franks – July 9th)

  • New metadata standards are more user-centric – what about those?
  • We need CV, but not generalized LC – more subject/user specific
  • We have lots invested in MARC – how do we move from this to the new thing?
  • We don’t know which solution to choose. – how do you determine what is supportable / cost-effective?
  • We aren’t on the cusp – the profession has been in a state of flux for years,
  • There isn’t just one solution, perhaps more, pace of change is so quick that it is difficult to implement a solution

Karen Schneider wound up the conference with a discussion on professional jurisdiction. She pointed to components of professions that define who/what they are and looked at where librarians fall on these ideas.

  • Jurisdictional control – “a profession that defines itself in terms of tasks is highly susceptible to technological changes”
  • Defining the ‘heartland’ – what is the core of the profession of librarianship? – freedom of information access, right to read, organization?
  • Making inroads to emerging jurisdictions -is librarianship making inroad on emerging information arenas?
  • Evidence- based decision making – is librarianship basing its actions on real-world data?

Schneider wound up by pointing to things that librarians need:

  • To embed Librarians in other professions
  • To redirect efforts towards automated / interoperability uses
  • To steal/co-op others ideas, gain a stake in emerging jurisdictions
  • To develop clear statements of jurisdiction
  • To provide support for think tanks/incubators to produce next great theorist
  • To stop getting mowed over by other information professions

Here is Schneider’s presentation.