It has been another busy week, and unfortunately Thursday has slipped into Friday. There have been a few updates to earlier Thursday Threads items, so I’m turning this into “Friday Followups” instead. We’ll attempt to get back new items next Thursday, but in the meantime take a look at these updates.
This week I sat in on the first of the three “Using RDA: Moving into the Metadata Future” webinars being hosted by ALA. This one was hosted by Karen Coyle with the title New Models of Metadata where she talked about library-specific efforts such asRDA and FRBR as well as the linked data effort in the wider world of information. There was a great deal of concern expressed in the chat window by participants about the future of cataloging, of cataloguers, and of MARC. The latter brought up memories of Roy Tennant‘s “MARC Must Die” declaration. My take away, though, isn’t that MARC is dead as much as MARC is a dead end.
I seem to remember, in the early heady days of the internet, there was a cry from the library profession to “Catalog the Internet” — to create descriptive records and controlled vocabularies for every resource out there deemed useful. The early Yahoo!, with a librarian on the staff, was going to help by putting everything in a neat, orderly classification system. The rest of us were going to catalog sites like mad and put them all into WorldCat (and keep them up-to-date). A nice dream.
My undergraduate background is in computer science, and from that perspective I have a great deal of admiration for MARC and AACR as well as their creators and proponents: Henriette Avram and Michael Gorman. At their creation, MARC and AACR propelled library services to new heights of efficiency and usefulness. Here’s my problem, though: we no longer live in the 1970s, and the fundamental tools of our trade should not be based in nearly 40-year-old technology.