5 thoughts on “Shutting down conversations … and starting them

  1. Touche on Calhoun the Report! The usual response to my question, “So, what do you think of the Calhoun Report?” is a glazed look, a shrug, or the response, “Is that the OCLC report?”

    Quite aside from her reportage of her panelists’ opinions not seeming to match her preceeding summary of them (a pretty severe failure of a qualitative research study with such a small population, I think), Calhoun seems to believe that, because 18 year old high school graduates cry when confronted with something more complex than Google, then all libraries should work toward giving them what they want. (I wonder what the humanities faculty and graduate students at Cornell would say about being denied access to the tools that full marc record creation gies them — even if they don’t know how they got there.) This lowest-common-denominator approach eviscerates the real power of, as you put it, 130 years of dreams of unleashing the real power of organized information.

    What struck me most about the Report (and likewise the vigorous response of LC’s Thomas Mann) is its shying away from every librarian’s responsibility in this matter: that is, I believe, to show readers and researchers the tremendous power LCSH, controlled vocabulary, and the Authorities put directly into the hands of every researcher. (This is especially so on the public services side — for whom the tech services side do what they do!). Indeed, boring information literacy training is how the Calhoun Report is answered; then let the real users (not the librarians) speak from knowledge abut the way forward. No *researcher* who has discovered what an LCSH can do for their research — that *no* full text search driven by any sophisticated algorithyms can do — would consider the Calhoun-Marchum proposal an improvement.

  2. Hi David! Sorry for the slow response; been relaxing some but mostly busy around here the last couple days. Nice comment. I see you’ve read it and gave it a bit more thought than many of our fellow students.

    I don’t know how any of this is going to wash out. In the grand sense, or in my personal situation. But it appears to me that many of the ideas I am interested in are being funded and tested in Europe, by cultural heritage institutions and governments. That is where my focus is going to be for a while, I think. For instance, see: http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/terminology/TSreview-jisc-final-Sept.html

    Dr. Weech asked me why I thought it might be that progress on standards, interoperability, vocabularies, etc. seem to be taking place faster outside of the US. That is a complex question, but I gave a few stabs at possible influences and quickly had to stop. Things get political–and worse–real quick.

    What the heck. I’d love to get back to Europe one of these days. Maybe this is one way…?

    Thanks for your insightful comment, David. We should have coffee or beers and chat when you’re here for oncampus next; nice bio.

  3. Pingback: Professionalism, fragmentation, moral minimalism and personal drama

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