It’s a mighty fine idea. Honest! Let’s let the machines do it! Sure! But..the thing is … someone, somewhere is STILL physically typing the information into the system in the first place. Someone is putting finger to key to type the title, author, etc. Sure, the machines go in and extract it to place it in MARC format or Dublin Core or [insert container here] but they have to get it from somewhere.
If the nice truck driver doesn’t come by my gas station and re-fill the tanks below the concrete, I cannot get gas out of the nice automated pumps.
If the grocer or night stocker or clerk does not place the milk in the refrigerated section, I cannot take it from the shelf.
If the bank teller or manager or clerk does not put money in the ATM, I cannot take money out (that is, if I had any in my account).
Some ONE has to do the intial job. An individual human being person.
Over the holidays I received some new CDs (Compact Discs) filled with music. I like receiving the music this way, I can convert them to MP3 or whatever but by having a physical copy, I will not lose if my hard drive or portable device dies.
During the New Year weekend I spent time converting my new CDs to MP3 so I can tote them about on my oh-so-convenient player. It amused and frustrated me to see the metadata on those CDs. What category of music is the new Hawaiian Ukulele Christmas music CD? Why, it’s alternative of course! Nevermind that it has songs such as “Silent Night” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” – it must be alternative and not Christmas or Holiday. And then there is Lyle Lovett “Natural Forces” being considered Rock. And shall we start discussing the difference between song titles? “Do you here what I hear” is only slightly different from “Do you hear what I hear” but what about “Core War” versus the correct “Coal War”? Then, of course, are the 40 or 50 “unknown title” by “unknown artist” that I still need to listen to and update the metadata. I could go on and on…but shan’t. You get the point.
I’m all for using machine driven metadata BUT perhaps some quality control could be used on the metadata first?
Another quickie today – this incredible article by Laura Miller was brought to my attention. YAY Laura! YAY Metadata! Laura’s article is just brilliant. She details what happens and why. This is one of the better articles I’ve seen on this subject.
I have only one, very small quibble with this article and that is at the end when it is said “My goal was really to get the librarians to talk to Google, because until recently they’ve been been taking it for granted that Google Books will do it right.”. Uhm, no. We’ve been trying for quite a long time to get this discussion going. I’d LOVE to get my hands into the Google books project and work out the metadata mess. Of course, I’d also like to get paid to do so …
The end of June found me in Washington DC with thousands of other librarians attending the annual American Library Association meeting. I went early to attend the RDA 101 pre-conference session and stayed on to Sunday. I shan’t bore you with details on each and every session attended, just some highlights.
First, a bit of a whine. Why are the topics I’m most interested in scheduled at the same time in very different locations? I wanted to attend several things that not only overlapped but flatout conflicted. I couldn’t even split the difference as often one was at the convention center and the other was at a very distant hotel (BTW, thanks Gale for the buses!). And then sessions I would have dearly loved to attend (Thursday’s Linked Data: Making Library Data Converse with the World) announced AFTER I bought my airline ticket. Sure I saved $200 but I missed great things on Thursday and Monday.
Friday was taken up with the RDA 101 pre-conference but I so wish I had been able to attend the FRBR Interest Group meeting or the Cataloging & Description of Cartographic Resources: From Parchment to Pixels, Paper to Digital or, most of all, the Unconference. Le sigh.
The RDA 101 pre-conference was a low level, basic introduction to FRBR and RDA (thus the title I reckon). The morning started with Barbara Tillett giving an RDA overview (which was really more about FRBR and terminiology) and then a “Future of Cataloging and Metadata” session. Both are good and I love hearing Barbara Tillett talk but I had already seen much of this presented (via the Library of Congress RDA Webcasts, albeit with different titles). I’m not complaining, I think many in the room needed the very basic information provided here and the session was called “RDA 101″ implying a basics approach. It just wasn’t what I needed particularly.
Next up in the RDA 101 morning were John Espley and Vinod Charchra from VTLS. You can get copies of their presentations too. Again, this was interesting (although it was nigh on impossible to see the screen shots in the slides and hard to read in the print versions handed out…perhaps a 2 per page of those particular slides would have been better?). I’m not crazy about the hard linking that is required but I see lots of possibilities here. I think other vendors are also implementing FRBR/RDA type systems. It would be nice to have representation from more than just one vendor. No offense to VTLS, I discussed a bit of what VTLS is doing in a previous blog post and I did enjoy seeing VTLS but I would have liked a balance.
The afternoon of the RDA 101 pre-conference was…interesting. Dr. Robert Ellett gave us plenty to think about and attempted to do some hands-on exercises. This is what I wanted – some hands-on, “way in AACR2″ and “way in RDA”. I enjoyed the exercise although it made me really notice how very little is changing. The Dr. Shawne Miksa portion of the afternoon had a promising title “Hands on RDA and New MARC21 Fields: Non-book Resource Examples”. Unfortunately, the hands-on component was missing. Also, the handout provided was incorrect (pointed out at the end of the presentation by Barbara Tillett), Dr. Miksa explained to the room that her student assistant had created them and apparently got it wrong. This made me very sad.
Saturday was action packed! Again there were several I wish I could have attended (and some I regret choosing) but you makes your choices and takes your chances. I attended an OCLC session (Redesigning Technical Services) and another (Copy Cataloging Interest Group) in which the PCC program was lightly explained, I found both interesting but I wish I had know this before I went (oh we will explore this more, thanks J Rochkind @ Bibliographic Wilderness for a potentially terrifying post). I would have liked to attend more (esp. the Converging Metadata Standards for Cultural Institutions, Google books discussion and Developing a Digital Workflow) but times, they were conflictin’.
Sunday was yet more. There were some hours on Sunday that were empty (yes, I could have attended something but a girl deserve a break) so I went down to the exhibit hall and spent a blissful hour or two listening to mystery writers talk. The RDA Forum in the afternoon was smack dab up against the Authorized Genre, Forms and Facets in RDA. I chose the RDA Forum. The room was packed!
Here is something I found very intriguing. In the RDA 101 session, RDA was presented as complete and pretty much approved (just a few formalities left). In the RDA Forum, this was split. The RDA creators presented as fait accompli whereas the Library of Congress stressed the upcoming testing. Beacher Wiggins of the Library of Congress stated a decision would not be made on RDA until Spring 2011, after all the testing is done and the results analyzed. Mr. Wiggins further stated they hoped to make an announcement prior to the next ALA annual convention. I am going to explore this in a future post, please stay tuned.
Oh – and I did get out and see the quite moving and incredible World War II monument whilst in DC. And the Washington Monument. And the interiors of several Starbucks.
So I was in a conversation with a certain Scrabble player and was asked what I thought about collaboration. I said I was for it. The problem seemed to be credit – who gets the credit when something is a collaborative effort? And does it really matter?
I guess it depends on the project. Is your funding going to be affected? Your individual job? I mean, if you are not recognized as the Main Contributor or Instigator or whatever term you wish, will your job be affected? Or your pay? If so, then yes absolutely credit is important – but only to Those Who Have Power Over Your Paycheck. And you should be able to let them know by simply keeping them informed of your activities. But everyone else? Do they care?
I reckon the ‘ownership’ of the output could also be affected. Let’s say, for example, the Catalogers Of The World Unite and create a whopping big database of records to share and share alike. They collaborate to make the best possible records (updating when information isn’t there, perhaps correcting the odd mistake, adding more information, etc.). And let’s say, for example, to make it easy on everyone they form a consortia or even a membership-type group to share in this collaborative effort then the group organizing the consortia or group decides they own the output of the collaborate effort. I guess then credit could be important.
Cataloging IS a collaborative effort. Who out there really does original cataloging for each and every item that comes across the desk?
Data about data about data, oh I love it! Thanks to Christine Schwartz at Cataloging Futures for her recent post Should we capture metadata about metadata which lead me right over to The Power of Parametadata from VocabControl.
Parametadata, I must confess, is a whole new term for me. It really is data about data about data. In my little cataloger mind this is a goodly size chunk of the fixed field information in a MARC Bibliographic, the stuff the system will automatically calculate and insert for me (THANK GOD!). This is information about file size, dates (date added, date modified, etc.) – it is the information computers (and us humans) use without really thinking about it. How often do you re-sort your files by date to find the latest version? Or even just your email? I do it all the time and now I know what I’m doing – sifting thru parametadata.
As I think about it, parametadata is just as important than metadata itself. We don’t just need who wrote the email but when they sent it (or when received). We don’t just need to know which item is covered by the MARC Bibliographic record but also when it was created (008 positions 00-05) and when it was last modified (005 if you were wondering).
So, we’ve had parametadata all along, I just never knew it had a term associated with it. Sweet! As to Christine’s query “Should we capture metadata about metadata“? Uhm, yes. But let’s let the computer do that part as much as possible. It already does some of it (see above references to fixed fields), I think we should continue that and have the system display as needed in a human-readable form.
Ivy over at From the Catalogs of Babes posts about how what we are blogging about is not new, these are not new ideas. Go read her post. I’ll wait [insert musak ... wait! get permission and pay...now insert musak]
She’s nailed it. Totally. We are repeating the same concepts, same ideas, same thoughts that have been expressed for some years now in librarianship. Let’s do it. Let’s build a new system. One that actually inserts the punctuation as it should, one that is not run by MARC tags, indicators and subfield codes…
[rant: why do I still have to know what a 245 is? Why can't I just know how to discover the data on the item and put it into a system that lets me know TITLE FROM TITLE PAGE. Why do I have to tell the system the second indicator of the 245, why can it not know the initial articles? Do other systems (other than libraries) allow for filing under initial articles? No? Then do other systems require the inputter to tell the system it starts with an article? No? Why do library systems STILL REQUIRE THIS?]
…if you’ve read my other posts you know what I mean.
When & where can we start? I’m ready.
I’d also like to know why some catalogers resist tagging and social networking of the catalog. Tags expand the possibilites of discovery.
OK, I’ll come clean. I too resisted tags. I worried that they would replace the more structured metadata but I have Seen The Light. With a good search engine (one that incorporates use of weighed searches and complex algorithms), tags are beneficial (and honestly? generally make more sense to the searchers).
Yes, structured metadata is still needed, tags are the extra. The bow in the coiffed hair, the dangly on the necklace, the cream in my coffee…