I was quite disappointed with the amount [not the quality] of public testimony. I did not work up anything to say as I figured that there would be many people far more “qualified” than me jostling for room at the microphone. Sadly, that was not the case. The 3 hours set aside for public testimony lasted about 30 minutes with only 3 people signed up.
I will be providing written testimony to the Working Group and I highly encourage anyone and everyone to do so! All written testimony (such a fancy word, eh? Input, comments, concerns,…) must be sent to Dr. José-Marie Griffiths. Contact info on this page.
Please do so! Particularly those of you in the public, special and school libraries. As you will see (shortly), it was noted that there was little representation from, of, or by, these communities. Do not let your voices and concerns go unheard.
Sara Shatford Layne -Principal Cataloger – UCLA and professor in SJSU distance program
(1) Don’t forget the needs of research faculty members. There is a danger in trying to do the best for the largest number. Who will do this if not the academic libraries. An example. One researcher creates the cure for cancer vs. 4000 undergraduate papers on Hamlet.
(2) Seem to need more, not less structure and people are asking for the structure
(3) Systems we use are a kind of structure; we need to influence system creation
(4) Authority data has been underutilized
(5) What can be automated?
(6) Cataloging as a public good, we need to lobby for this over the business model – the business model does not apply here. [An economist told her at a meeting she attended that “Cataloging is a public good.”]
Kevin Randall – Northwestern University, Head of Serials Cataloging
Interested to hear about the conflict between Bade/Hillman. I saw none; one is talking about WHAT, the other HOW. There is a loss of balance, too much emphasis on improving the container at the expense of content. My concern with the container is that it not leak!
Relating to CONSER standard level record:
We are focusing too much on Access, not Identify. This is being rushed to implementation. We need a graduated level of standards; the present ones are like an opaque un-marked measuring cup. It is difficult for cataloging managers to give guidance. Here it would seem that a cooperative program is being pushed by one member at the inconvenience of all other library/cooperative members. We must ask, what is the essence of cooperation? The standard level record is touted as “a floor, not a ceiling,” but with Encoding Level marked as blank it inference is full-level cataloging.
manage mortgage the future of FRBR user tasks in catalogs, we need to build up user services, but not at the expense of bibliographic control which connects our users to resources. [Updated 15 May via feedback from Kevin Randall, and in his own words: “I would suggest a correction to the last paragraph, though: instead of “manage”, I said “mortgage”. The point being, with the direction currently being taken in stripping things out of catalog records, we’re mortgaging our future in terms of being able to meet FRBR user tasks. Without proper bibliographic control, we won’t be able to connect
users to resources.”]
Michael Norman – UIUC, Head of Content Access Management
Discussed U of I digitizing efforts. In our current project we have opportunities to augment/enhance records but find that current structures do not accord places for this. We are working to convert MARC records to MARC XML with a METS wrapper. We are looking to integrate MARC with other standards. (out on the web) there are examples of books with the table of contents displayed as tag clouds, we need standards for this.
The U of I digitizing effort will double the size of our catalog, and the records will go into OCLC. We need more discussion about single vs multiple records, this is a different world. How do we build these structures?
How can we use OAI/PMH to make records better and refresh them as changes occur?
We need to be where the user is and we are working on this at the U of I: by creating widgets to assist with library searches across assorted databases and the OPAC as well as digital collections.
As to looking to automate records – they are imperfect, especially with regard to subject analysis, but there are parts that can be automated. One publisher, for example, Springer-Verlag generates metadata for e-book packages at the title and chapter level and these records are not too bad, though they may need tuning.
Clifford Lynch – Director of the Coalition for Networked Information; Working Group member
Speaking for the task force:
This is a process and I urge you to submit comments.
The next meeting will be about Organization (Systems) and Economics and I will build/ frame questions for the third meeting.
An extract from the comments today:
There have been important reminders about quality control starting with Bade’s questions about the scope of bibliographic resources we are trying to manage. Is the scope national? International? Quality control relates to this question intimately. Perfect quality is easy to talk about and advocate for – is a moral position, and few human systems can provide this. [To which Bade replied later].
Discussions of quality control operationally must consider:
- How will we measure it? With what metrics?
- We are constrained by economics (funding is not infinite)
- What are the trade-offs? We must think deeply about these.
- What do user communities have to do with quality? Is it collaborative? Should it result only from internal efforts?
Many insightful comments today about legacy vocabularies and related tools. I agree, especially with the issue of the economic models for opening these up. If these can become components of infrastructure their values will increase. Presently the economic models are impediments and need to be revisited. There has been surprisingly little discussion about rethinking the content of these vocabularies. How should something like the Name Authority File change in a networked environment? What is the role of the author ID that is being discussed in different communities? We need to think in a much broader context. Discussions about the author ID are vigorous elsewhere.
There has been much about the interplay of traditional bibliographic practices and “new bibliographic practices” such as user tagging, etc. More central questions come with the implications of fully digital objects. The argument is not between user tags and LCSH, but about text retrieval computations or representation and retrieval but little has been said about this.
As to a new term for bibliographic control: It is easy to become intoxicated by visions of the digital future. Physical artifacts won’t go away. We need to help people find them. Surrogates will become the order of the day.
What is a bibliographic record? Is it a structure to populate with the digitized text of a book and an bibliographic record? Do we want to go further? What about computational derivatives – forming a concordance of the most common words. What about fully digital items? Do we need to think about the whole spectrum or draw some line in the sand? This is no longer a theoretical question posed in order to come up with best practices.
There were also valuable comments about interactions between tools, systems and standards. We need to be mindful that the systems themselves can affect our viewpoint.
Regarding better tools for cataloging: What is our goal? What are the priorities? I want more correct records, speed for copy cataloging and deeper records.
[Yes; we should do more than just say we need better tools for cataloging. But anyone who has spent more than a day or two using our current tools can easily start down this road! Nonetheless, I agree with him. Hmmm.
What would be the best context for starting and recording this discussion? Another wiki? Perhaps the NGC4LIB list? LITA and/or ALCTS? Catalogers and metadata specialists, what do you say? How should we go about documenting what we need to do our jobs—perhaps even faster, better and with less expense?]
Let us return to the point about making it easier to contribute to or improve collective metadata. There is a group called the proof-readers collective [Distributed Proofreaders] in which individuals sign up to do as many pages of proofreading a day as possible for Project Gutenberg. Can we think of ways to do this?
Comments regarding systems and economics; i.e. questions for the 3rd meeting:
(1) We need to move from “absolute perfection” to resource allocation.
(2) We need to open up our vocabularies to achieve maximum value
(3) We need notification of changes and propagation of system improvements.
(4) The locus of responsibility for maintaining, notifying and improving standards is too diffuse now. There are many different players with many different ideas. The process is complex, to the extent that we want wide use, we need coherent explanations for outside communities.
(5) We need to think about public accessibility of standards. These products should be easily worldwide accessible like NISO standards. This is urgently necessary. “Our descriptive standards are dead in the water if not widely and readily accessible, in electronic form.”
[And I do not believe Cliff meant the current RDA product model, but more directly like NISO. If I want a copy of the Z39.19-2005 monolingual controlled vocabulary standard I just download a FREE copy. But he also means available in a “Webified” version, not just as a pdf.]
Public comments on Cliff Lynch’s Summation
Richard Stewart – Indian Trails Public Library District
Seems to be a serious lack of representation of much of the library community here today, especially with the invited speakers. Public, special and school libraries have needs that all need to be addressed; I hope they’re being considered in the overall process.
Lynch asked that these communities please provide feedback via the written testimony process.
James Nye – Asian bibliographer, UIC
What about the international and multilingual communities? The area of the world that he covers is composed of approximately 2 Billion people; think of the extensive opportunities for collaboration and learning from each other.
Scripts and character sets are still major issues.
?? Schuitema - Head of Cataloging at UIC [Sorry; I tried to find out who this might be, but UIC servers seem hosed this morning.] [Updated 15 May thanks to Kevin Randall.]
Wants to confront the “all or nothing” thinking that seems prevalent
Is also a therapist. When people are under stress, black and white thinkers (catalogers, by training) will shift even more to black and white. We need to move back to the center to address the gray areas.
Marc Gartler – Director of Library Services, Harrington College of Design
In our description fields, ‘ill.” is not sufficient. Access even to just titles [of images in resources] would be of immense value to the study of visual design. More granularity.
Deanna Marcum – Summation
Thanks to the speakers and for the commentary.
Bowen referred to gray areas in this discussion of the bibliographic future: LoC is in the middle of a large gray area. It may be helpful for you to hear the considerations that LoC is making as we discuss the future:
Are there roles and responsibilities of LoC that we want to continue or to embrace?
As part of this strategic planning process in library services I read all of the annual reports of the Librarians of Congress back to the beginning. In the early years these were philosophical documents, that contained views of what LoC could or should be.
For decades LoC has been the leader in bibliographic control:
(1)Because of volume
(2) Because it assumes professional and moral responsibility for creating records to be used by the library community. This is a valuable contribution.
(3) Because of a belief that LoC should be an innovator. My article: “Too much consensus” (2000) discusses our standards and structures. They provide quality and support but such a stance may not also allow for innovation. How much should we allocate to support and maintenance of our bibliographic structures?
We know that libraries depend on us. We will continue to innovate where we can in concert with the library community.
As to the future structure of LoC: It would be helpful to know for which community we are working. LoC serves all libraries, all citizens of the US, all citizens abroad and national libraries internationally. In policy discussions we serve all communities, but at a time when funds are declining, this decline will not reverse in the foreseeable future. We must decide where to invest.
Only 30 million of 130 million items at the LoC are under bibliographic control. The tradeoffs are this: do we digitize for direct availability or do we invest in bibliographic control?
As to work in other communities – should LoC do work ‘as good as’ theirs, or in collaboration with them. If it is a piecework approach, we all become part of the information network and this makes a lasting contribution to society.
LoC works in approximately 470 languages. These are almost all very underrepresented; should they (or who) fund script/character set development?
When I met with the ALA board 2 summers ago the first question was: How much money is allocated in support of LoC services to other libraries? The answer is zero. Congress has generously funded LoC and LoC has supported other libraries in turn, but Congress has never directly funded this work. It is our tradition. We want to do what is beneficial for the library community
[A few comments and questions followed, including Bade’s assurance that he was never talking about the perfect record, for he knows this is impossible, rather bibliographic control at the level suitable for the users at a given library].
May 9 2007 Chicago, IL ALA Headquarters
Meeting of the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control.
Many thanks to Kathryn La Barre for providing me her copious notes in electronic format and for allowing me to use them as I saw fit. I hope someone finds this material of value.
If anyone has any corrections to anything I may have gotten wrong from the beginning or perhaps mistyped, or any of the speakers who might have an issue with my transcription, please feel free to comment or contact me via my Contact Page.
Comments from any and all others are also certainly welcome!
I may try to add another post with my overall impressions and thoughts on this meeting and the Working Group process, but I need to step back for a bit. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, flowers are blooming, it’s Mother’s Day, and I have friends graduating who I need to support and help celebrate. And since Kathryn ordered me to get offline and enjoy myself I thought I might listen for once.
BTW, Kathryn, I did read something non-LIS related yesterday; 3 poems and Paglia’s commentary on them.