Hot Topics in Technical Services

Program Description: Hot Topics in Technical Services – 10/20/08 – 3:30 – 4:30 pm

This NETSL panel offers a peek into the coming changes in technical services. Diane Baden from
Boston College provides an update on RDA as it nears publication and discusses what it will mean
for you. Daniel Joudry from Simmons College describes what he sees on the horizon for technical
services. Bring your thoughts and questions.

Impressions –

Diane Baden gave one of the better quick and dirty RDA updates that I’ve had the pleasure of sitting in on. It would be easy to try and talk about everything, but she held back. For example, she chose not to try and tackle FRBR in the discussion or every single hot button article that’s been published. It really allowed for the point to get across. It’s still coming, we just don’t know when or exactly what’s going to happen. In the face of that, here’s some ways you can prepare to receive it. Her conference slides are available on the NELA website.

Daniel Joudry totally threw me for a loop. I always go to the hot topics in tech services type discussion at every conference I go to, and it’s the same old stuff. Then he came out swinging about the quality, breadth, and availability of cataloger education in LIS programs. I’ve heard murmurs and grumbling about this over the years, but it was so refreshing to have someone focus on it and really address the issue. As a recent graduate, it really gave me some insight into that MLS element of the process, and maybe, just maybe, made me want to further my education as a cataloger so that I might be qualified to teach.

RDA Update – Diane Baden

When she planned this, we all thought RDA was supposed to be out, and of course, it isn’t. Really it’s about getting ready for it whenever it comes. Updates are found on the Joint Steering Committee website as well as practical foundations. The dates have changed constantly, but scope and vision can be found here.

RDA is trying to be for the digital environment what AACR2 was for the card environment. Of course, the digital environment is so constantly changing that the product of RDA is often behind the 8 ball. Plus, RDA is designed to be usable outside the library community which causes delays, as will happen with a collaborative project.

RDA is designed to be compatible with AACR2, and some would say too compatible, so much so that it may not be transformative enough. So that begs the question, what would be the point of changing to one over another at this time and stage of development? This is the crux of what is going on with RDA all the time, there are vocabulary changes which are truly different and some say it is a just renaming without redoing. The slides illustrate some of the differences that really distinguished them.

RDA is not a book. No one has seen the whole thing because the delivery method is the web, and before the web product comes out, then we can’t see how it all works. It is not meant to be a start to finish read, but full of examples and workflows and truly part of the web as a WEB.

RDA is content only and meant to follow FRBR/FRAD. This way the influence is on what things are and how they relate, not how we make it display or how we choose input the data. It is format independent and based on cataloger judgment, so it will not be a prescriptive

MARC is a dinosaur and we will likely move away from it. There is a working group about MARC and how it relates to RDA, but they are not organically linked.

When the first draft comes out (this was supposed to happen last week), there will be a very brief beta period where it will be free to try, but controlled. Then they may release it in early next year and LC and the other National Libraries involved will decide whether to implement it. The US is not fully on board, but the other national libraries are committed to implementation.

FRBR: A Guide for the Perplexed by Robert Maxwell is a very good newer book on FRBR and we all need to get to know FRBR because that is future of cataloging. AUTOCAT, RADCAT, RDA-L are all good listservs to get info on any of these topics.

LIS Cataloger Education – Daniel Joudry

In 2004, Michael Gorman made proclamations about Library School Education (Michael Gorman, “Whither Library Education?” New Library World 105 (2004): 376- 380) Who is going replace the retirees once they leave and all the newbies come along with no real, practical library education? He pushes for a core curriculum and believes cataloging is the heart of the library process. Some LIS educators, predictably, got their dander up at being told they weren’t doing their jobs and turning out unprepared LIS graduates. Also, people seem to want us to be co-opted by computer science…wanting librarians to know things like java scripting as a basic skill and other things for the Information Technology element of the career. They want this to be core, not cataloging and reference

2006 – Diana Markum (sp?) – cataloging education is not standardized across curriculums. Shift from cataloging to organization information. Also, faculty and positions in cataloging are shrinking, so the pool of qualified applications is shrinking. If the educational programs don’t stay up to date with the market, then the students will not be ready to take a career.

Recommendations: ALA should meet with educators to discuss standards and recommendations. Demonstrate the level of demand for these professionals as well as the presence of qualified professionals. Core levels of knowledge for Information Organization broadly and not just in libraries, support doctoral research. LC supports all of these recommendations, ALISE has not responded but to be fair, they weren’t invited to the party.

2008 Joudry’s New Article on the subject is loaded with stats and I didn’t write them all down here (“Another Look at Graduate Education for Cataloging and the Organization of Information.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 46, no. 2 (2008)). What’s happening in the schools. 20% increase in bibliographic control classes since 2000, but half of them fall outside of traditional cataloging classes. Metadata courses fall under this umbrella. 1 in six courses are not being taught even though they’re on the menu. It’s not as bad as we think when you look at the statistics, but it still isn’t good. The schools are all over the map regarding how and what they require. There are a lot of broad ideas and foundations, but students are leaving school not capable of cataloging anything in actuality unless they take it upon themselves to get that education. Those broad strokes can be great, but basic principles are not good enough and there’s not enough out there for students. Traditional cataloging is disappearing from formal LIS education. Advanced cataloging, non-book cataloging, subject analysis, indexing are not being offered as much if at all.

Lack of human resources is huge for schools right now. Hiring more adjuncts is key but professionals have their own careers and the pay isn’t good. New cataloging professors would be great, but there are only a handful of PhD’s who will be prepared to teach traditional cataloging and many schools are settling folks who are just good enough.

We need to get new cataloging blood. We need to sell the vitality and worth, the heart of the profession, and get involved with schools and further scholarship.

Q & A

Q – At the OLAC conference Heidi Hoermann did a talk on RDA and said that might it go away and AACR3 will prevail. What do you think?

A – There are mighty financial parties pushing RDA along, and the US is not buying it hook line and sinker. NLM is exceedingly skeptical. Hard to imagine it won’t happen but many people wish it would go away.

Q – After Danny published his article on cataloging standards; did he get a response from Gorman?

A – He has on past articles, but not on the latest one (yet).

Q/Opinion – Libraries are trying to shift training to the schools, but library school is not the only answer. It’s a piece of the puzzle and the schools should not need to be all things to all people.

A – Agreed to a large degree, but on the other hand, there needs to be a better foundation and opportunity to learn more. It should happen on the job, but how when there are no qualified catalogers left.

Q – One of the advantages of RDA is supposed to be that someone not trained in RDA can use it, but if that manifests then what happens to Traditional Cataloging?

A – Catalogers for the higher level work…original collections, metadata development, and automate the copy cataloging and such. There is going to be huge gap between the higher level work and the people trained to do it. RDA can be customized and simplified, but it is attempting to be all things to all people. Descriptive cataloging may diminish, but there is a huge need for better subject analysis. Elements of cataloging are in greater need as others are evolving into something else.

2 Responses

  1. This is a really great post, I’m glad that you put this content out there for everyone, and I’m sure that others feel the same way!

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