Information and the Future

This is the blog of the Information and the Future task force of the Rolfing Library at Trinity International University. The IF task force exists to explore the role of libraries in the future of Christian higher education.

Monday, May 14, 2007

LC's Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control

I was fortunate enough to attend the Library of Congress' May 9th public meeting in Chicago on the future of bibliographic control. I'm not a great note taker so for a full accounting of the meeting please see the account in Off The Mark.

Here are a few highlights:

  • I thought David Bade's paper was fascinating and am hoping that it becomes public (hopefully with full citations). One of his points was that we should understand cataloging as a form of communication and that good cataloging should meet the same standards as good communication. He argued that the prevailing metaphors for cataloging are too mechanistic (he called them transportation metaphors) and lose sight of the fact that machines on their own communicate nothing. He went on to make the case that the best cataloging is done by people with a stake in the outcome - praising tagging as the re-emergence of user created metadata but ultimately calling for scholarly catalogers situated within and communicating with actual communities of users. I think he underestimates the potential for networked cataloging and ways technology can enhance communication but found his presentation the most thought provoking of the day. I also was thrilled to hear him question the technology hype that one often finds in this field (perhaps in this blog?).
  • Dianne Hillmann discussed the recent announcement that RDA was partnering with the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative. I'm still a little shaky on what all of this will mean but the plan is to create an application profile that explains the obligation and constraints of RDA metadata. There was real excitement at the Working Group that this would open up new opportunities for RDA to be adopted as a standard by those outside of the library world and possibly help library applications move beyond MARC.
  • Jennifer Bowen from the University of Rochester shared about many things but what struck me was her call for a new vision of what cataloging should be. She argued that cataloging is undergoing substantial change and that it is not enough to simply assure catalogers that they will continue to have a place in the new world. She used the example of taking a pastry chef out of her bakery and putting them in a cake factory. We need to understand that the skills that made the chef in the bakery may not translate well to the factory even though cake is still being produced. Similarly we need to understand and be honest about the fact that new and different skills may be needed now. Her hope was that a new vision could be articulated that would help us understand what those new skills may be.
That is just a small taste from the meeting. I'm grateful for the chance to attend and look forward to hearing about the third and final public meeting in July on economics and organizations.


  • At 6:57 AM, Anonymous Mark said…

    Nice recap, Matt.

    I'm not usually a good note-taker either, but got lucky that day. Plus I had the benefit of notes from someone who is.


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