I had an “Aha” moment at ALA MW. There I was, sitting and listening to the Big Heads of Technical Services (no, really, that’s what it is called), when suddenly my brain began to function. Let’s see it if works in essay form.
I believe I have seen the future – the bigger picture – the reason for the seemingly meaningless changes. We are moving completely away from the traditional ILS (or the more hip acronym LMS), Discovery models, ERM, etc. That, we are hoping to merge all these different systems all built for specific purposes into one system (with modules, scalability, etc. etc.). This makes perfect sense.
Copy cataloging began as a way to share so each library did not have to “reinvent the wheel“. We developed ILS to manage all (at the time) known aspects of the library: Cataloging, Acquisitions, Circulation, and the good ol’OPAC. This made life oh so much easier as we hooked all the areas together.
Along came CD-ROM and, eventually, online databases. Vendors have completely separate systems we learn to manage. Perhaps we added the acquisitions portion to our traditional ILS and maybe, just maybe, some added aspects to their catalog but in general, these are considered separate from ILS. We have separate Admin, separate search, separate statistics, etc. Oh yes, we piddled around with something called “federated search” to enable a user to search across all databases. It didn’t work too well and many felt burned by the experience (thus we now call the same concept “Discovery”).
As we began collecting more e-resources, we needed an easy way to provide access. It quickly became apparent the traditional ILS catalog would not suit – too much information too fast and rapidly changing. Thus began the, oh how to say without using proprietary product names? A product that allows a long alphabetic listing of e-resource specific titles. This product allows the user to click on a specific title to see the contents and read/print/email particular articles from the list of contents. This is yet another system to manage in the library.
As e-journals and packages began Big Deals, we added ERM to our arsenal of management tools. We needed somewhere to store things like license agreements, ILL information, title lists, etc.
Back to my aha moment…why are we fooling around with things like RDA and a new MARC (or, as Beecher Wiggins termed in the Big Heads meeting, Bibliographic Framework Transition) or the newly coined Web Scale Management? Well to merge all these varying systems together – to have one place to put our acquisitions information and it share along appropriately. For one place to search, and it searches all appropriate areas. For one ‘catalog’ in which everything collected (physical or ephemeral) by the library is noted.
On and off I have been working on a post about technology. I love new technology, am fascinated with the possibilities but at the same time I want to know how it will effect (and affect) things.
Remember the old PDA? The first run of these basically were just electronic address books – and the stylus was rather difficult to use (especially for those of us with less than stellar handwriting). I liked the idea but preferred my old handwritten, scribbled on, little black book. I still do use that little black book (especially for physical addresses of friends/family) but I also my phone’s ability to retain phone numbers. Works for me but it does mean I can no longer remember phone numbers since I no longer dial from memory.
Then there is the downloadable music of today. I’m told downloadable is replacing compact disc (which replaced the LP and cassettee…not entirely and not across the world). This frustrates me. I love music and dislike the idea that I can only get some things by purchasing and downloading. Well, except when you go to see live music of not-so-well-known bands. CD sales is where they can make their money, gigs don’t pay very much and CD (and tshirt and keychain, etc.) sales is where they can make some $$$.
Oh! And books. Books are going away, d’ya know? Yes! It is said that no longer will we have paper, we will be a paperless society (I’ll pause here for your laughter as you look around your office). Instead of purchasing a book or grabbing one from the library, you will purchase and download books to a device. Seems very much like ‘renting’ to me – especially when Big Brother can reach across and delete from my device (referring to the Kindle/1984 phenomena – and ain’t it a kick what book that happened to? Cue Rod Sterling).
I like owning a physical copy. Yes, it takes space but when my computer crashes and my hard drive backup is corrupt…I still have my CD and I can read by candlelight if power dies. I wish I had taken my own advice on physical copy when my phone decided I no longer needed to have any friends or contacts – which happened right after my computer decided to kick the bucket thus killing my phone backup.
Then, of course, is the issue of access. I have ranted and ranted about this. NOT everyone can afford an MP3 player. What? They’re really cheap? Uh huh, so is milk but many still need food stamps or WIC. Oh! You’ll give everyone a player? Sweet. Now, how do they get the music to put on the ‘free’ player? Ah! Simply download it…on what? Can’t download in a public library. Can’t download when you do not own a computer OR have internet access. Oh and let’s not forget the cost of electricity and/or batteries. It ain’t cheap. Then there is the learning curve on how to do this…rant rant rant.
Wow – go off subject much? Yes. Yes I do. Point being technology is great, it really is but let us not forget everyone else. Let’s not build a society of information-rich and information-poor. Libraries can help fill this niche needed to provide all this wonderful technology to the masses. And they do – quietly and without fanfare, libraries are out there helping people get what they need to succeed (as well as entertain).
*disclaimer, I do use downloads. I have downloaded music and books and all sorts of neato cool things. And I love it. But I do also love my physical copies for things I want to go over and over and over and over… I am not anti-technology. I am, though, pro-options.
Have you seen this “A Librarian Takes on Google Books“*? It is just brilliant on so many levels:
- librarians not just recognizing the need but taking action
- non-librarians seeing the worth of the project
- purchasing and utilizing appropriate technology
- quality AND quantity being considered and acted upon
Best of all? This near the end of the blog entry:
The librarian believes he has found a new cause for his profession, to give a secure home to digitized texts produced with the highest quality standards and available freely to all. “These are huge benefits,” he says, “and should be fought for by all of those who care about unimpeded public access to knowledge.”
I think Andrew Green is my new hero (then again, I haven’t yet seen what he is doing about metadata).
*Please note, the idea of the Google Book project is lovely. Let’s get everything so everyone can access it. The issues involved in such an endeavor are incredibly complex (from copyright to access to cost to quality and beyond). I admire the ideal but am not enamored with the reality. For your edification, Library Journal has published a list of links regarding the topic. You can also just search for tons of for/against articles, blogs, etc.
that’s what my professor in college said. He said it as an example of what every “American” has – we all have 3 bedroom homes with 2 cars in the garage. The student from India turned to me and asked if he could borrow one of my cars. He was not being facetious – he truly believed it. So, it seemed, did the professor. [the professor also proclaimed no women had worked until the 1940s with 'Rosie the Riveter'. Seeing my stunned look, he asked if I had comment. I gently pointed out the whole Industrial Revolution, child labor and all. He looked a bit confused then decided that perhaps women did work but certainly not very hard]
My point here is anger and frustration. In the media, on the lists, I keep hearing about the demise of the library and to find information (such for the Toyota recall), go to a website. Uh, I don’t know what world you people live in but I inhabit one where not everyone HAS a computer much less internet access at their fingertips. Libraries fulfill the need of the masses to gain computer and internet access (and lots of other needs too but we’ll look at this one alone). I worked in a medical library where I helped many people find the information needed. I also helped staff who had to file all their vacation and sick time as well as take the inevitable HR required “Ethics” tests, “Safety” tests, etc. all via the computer but had no idea how (mainly the janitorial and maintenance staff but others as well with varying levels of skill AND they ranged in age from late teens on up).
“Oh libraries aren’t needed, everything is on the Web”
“Eh, who needs books anymore?”
“Just download it to your eBook reader”
“go to this website to learn all you need to be filthy, stinking rich”
“OMG! LOL! IDK…”
Are we working our way towards the “information rich” and “information poor” society that libraries are sworn to prevent?
I know this is not strictly a metadata or cataloging subject but it is vaguely librarian-like and, gosh darn it, it really gets to me sometimes!