Basic Values and the Future of Cataloging *
Introductory Remarks: David Miller, Curry College
Greetings, everyone. It’s wonderful to see you all here, early on a Sunday morning, with so much competition available for this time slot (including breakfast and sleep). I’m David Miller, from the library at Curry College in Milton, Mass., and I’m the chair this year of the Cataloging and Classification Section, or CCS. This forum is titled “Basic Values and the Future of Cataloging,” and that probably needs a little explanation.
When I needed to come up with a title for this Forum, I originally thought to put the phrase, “The Future of Cataloging,” in quotation marks. I didn’t do so because I realized that the entire forum title would also likely be enclosed in quotation marks, in the advance publicity, and with double-closed-quotes that would just be confusing. But why do this in the first place? Here’s a proposal. It’s seemed to me for a long time that we’re as interested in the concept of the future of cataloging, or of the catalog, as in the actual future itself. That might sound extreme, but as I was glancing over my bookshelves at home last week, book after book announced on its spine this very phrase or phrases like it. This and the future of the catalog, the future of cataloging and that, something else and the future of etc., etc. Add in to that all of the possible program and forum and journal article titles and you have a phenomenon which is probably worthy of study in and of itself. So for me at least – and I can’t speak for any of the panelists on this point – this forum is about the idea of the future of the catalog and cataloging, and what that has to do with values.
OK, why values? It’s a word that’s been contaminated by “family values” among other phrases, but we can reclaim it for ourselves, and we have to in fact, because values have a most intimate relationship with the future. How is the future in general created? It’s not created by studies or task forces or work groups. It does not come about because of all of the pronouncements of all futurists, professional and amateur, combined. The future is, at base, the next moment of the present, which means, as we really all know, that the future will have arrived by the time I get to the end of this sentence, and again by the time I begin the next sentence. So that means that the future is created only by means of what people actually do. And that means what each and every person actually does, in cataloging or librarianship generally or outside of it. Everyone. Now if the future is created always and only by virtue of what people actually do, as compared with what task forces and so on determine they should desire to do, then clearly we’ve got to look at values. What do you believe in, which leads you to what you do? That’s what creates the future, including “the future of cataloging.”
Last summer, partially in response to the Library of Congress’ series authorities decision, CCS was charged by the ALCTS Board to develop a series of recommendations or discussion points for next steps that ALCTS should take to enhance its leadership position with respect to the changing nature of bibliographic control. In response, an ad hoc group headed by the CCS Executive Committee developed a document titled ALCTS AND THE FUTURE OF BIBLIOGRAPHIC CONTROL: CHALLENGES, ACTIONS, AND VALUES. It’s now available and is linked from the ALCTS home page, as the “Next Report.” The document is in three parts, but this morning we’re focusing on the third part, which I’ll read to you.
III. FRAMES (VALUES, VIEWPOINTS)
For ALCTS to effectively “enhance its leadership position with respect to the changing nature of bibliographic control,” it is necessary not only to consider challenges and potential actions, but the base of values from which ALCTS acts. The following set of suggested frames may be regarded as viewpoints, or axioms, describing a world view with regard to essential issues in technical services librarianship. Some individuals, of course, may have serious disagreements with some or all of these statements. Nevertheless, they may serve, at minimum, as a basis for useful reflection and discussion.
ALCTS serves libraries of all types and sizes.
Because most active ALCTS committee members are drawn from academic and government libraries, we must be extra vigilant to keep in mind the needs of all libraries, such as public, school, etc. Additionally, we need to operate from the understanding that libraries which are larger and/or more technologically advanced do not speak for librarianship in general.
ALCTS understands and respects the most diverse needs of all types of library users for all types of materials.
There are no "transitional" users. Library users comprise both those who sometimes, or always, prefer non-digital resources and those who now prefer digital resources, among others. All are to be treated with equal respect and without condescension. Similarly, the concept of "legacy materials” needs to be treated with caution. Whatever the values conferred by digitization of “non-born-digital” resources, we realize that those are added values, beyond those inherent in the resources as originally created. In other words, resources which are not universally available are not inherently of lesser value. We do not assume that non-digital resources are simply waiting to be digitized.
We understand that the development of information technology has made possible the significant reuse and extension of existing bibliographic/authority metadata.
We treat with skepticism the concept of "legacy metadata." We are careful to keep in mind that existing MARC-based metadata, in particular, has a long and useful life ahead, regardless of the future of the MARC formats proper. We support work and thought to promote the transformation of MARC as we know it, a process which we recognize may lead to its replacement.
In the realm of advanced digital applications, we are interested in collaboration, not competition.
We take as axiomatic the idea that library catalogs and bibliographic databases on the one hand, and Web search engines on the other, have complementary strengths. No matter what their respective popularity may be among the general population, neither of these broad categories of tools can compete with the other, on the other’s own ground. Realizing this, we maintain that "future catalogs" discussions based on the idea of "competition between the catalog and search engines" have become passé, leading to redundant sets of questions and answers. The interesting questions about "the future of the catalog" now have to do with collaboration, not competition. Collaborations with librarians and nonlibrarians who operate social networking sites, implement "Web 2.0" or "Library 2.0" services, and pursue creative mashups of the most heterogeneous types of metadata, will invigorate both our practice and theory, as well as strengthen our relationships with our user groups. These collaborations will also be fueled by our expertise in metadata creation, of the traditional library type as well as in newer forms. Because recent and future data mining products will continue to require sources of rich metadata, the value of bibliographic metadata itself is likely to increase.
Budgets are the outcomes of political processes; budget decisions have ethical and moral implications.
Technical services librarians too often display passive negativity with regard to budget and staffing decisions. Each of us has a responsibility to shape our environment and be a positive influence for change. As budgets and other decisions are the outcomes of political processes, we need to have the willingness, the tools, and the support to be a part of these processes. ALCTS members should take leadership roles in shaping a climate where creative, proactive, collegial activities are supported. This includes the development of vision-driven workflow models which enable technical services operations to be run in a fiscally responsible manner while still maintaining high standards of quality. In addition, recognizing the radically contextual nature of all economic decisions, we treat phrases such as "common-sense business decisions" and "fiscal inevitabilities" with skepticism.
Librarianship is an international profession; technical services specializations have become globalized.
We accept responsibility for being part of the international community. We are aware that major changes in policy and practice cannot be confined to our own borders. We understand that librarianship, including technical services librarianship, is not bounded by practices taken for granted in wealthy countries.
The future is longer than the past.
Our work is situated in time. This implies that, first, while it is of course necessary to act on the basis of present expectations and resources, policy and practice decisions have multiple ripple effects extending further forward in time than we are able to imagine. Second, remembering the continuity of actions in time will help us to explore new ideas for improving access to information resources, while continuing to understand and value the best of our accomplishments to date.
Each of our speakers will address one or two of these frames, from their own perspectives and experiences. They’ll talk about a number of different specific subjects in the course of addressing these value statements. I’ll introduce each of them in turn, and each one will talk for about ten minutes. This should give us plenty of time at the end for your questions and comments, and in fact please hold those until the end, so we can be sure each of our six panelists has time to speak. By the way, I can’t thank them enough for their willingness to participate, on somewhat short notice as well. Basically, we’ll go in the order in which the frames are presented, but will break that order a bit because a couple of our speakers need to leave early.
Sally Smith of King County Library System is a member of the Public Library Association's Cataloging Needs of Public Libraries Committee and a delegate to the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control.
I've been with King County Library System since 2000 after having worked during the prior decade for Western Library Network, the NW bibliographic utility, which morphed into OCLC Western. I initially worked with the staff who reviewed records member libraries contributed to the database then because the MARC Records Services (MARS) Manager. The MARS service supported all types of libraries throughout the country with automation, local system migrations, and authority control processing.
I started my library career as a school librarian at a time when all the Seattle school levies had failed, so I wound up in Tech Services at Seattle University.
1. ALCTS serves libraries of all sizes and types.
3. We understand that the development of information technology has made possible the significant reuse and extension of existing bibliographic/authority metadata.
No formal comments.
Ana Lupe Cristán
Ana Lupe Cristán is Cooperative Cataloging Program Specialist in the Cataloging Policy and Support Office (CPSO) at the Library of Congress (USA) a position she has held since 2005. Prior to that she worked on the Cooperative Cataloging Team in the Regional and Cooperative Cataloging Division at LC.
She has been a cataloger since 1976 and has held technical services positions at the University of Texas at El Paso, The University of Texas at Austin, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the Department of Defense, and since 1984 at the Library of Congress. She joined LC’s Cooperative Cataloging Team in 1992 and has provided training to over 100 libraries in the creation and contribution of authority records to the Library of Congress’ databases via NACO. She has served as the Coop Team Leader and was the coordinator of the PCC’s BIBCO Program from 1996 until 2004. In the last 7 years she has concentrated her training efforts in Latin America where she has conducted workshops on the MARC 21 format, and the creation of name authority records. She has made presentations throughout Latin America on cooperative programs in general, the components programs of the PCC, and on the standardized use of cataloging rules and tools.
6. Librarianship is an international profession; technical services specializations have become globalized.
Mary Charles Lasater
Mary Charles Lasater is Authorities Coordinator at Vanderbilt University. She is also the Vice Chair/Chair-Elect of the Cataloging and Classification Section.
2. ALCTS understands and respects the most diverse needs of all types of library users for all types of materials.
Casey Bisson is a software developer and information technologist specializing in building applications and systems to serve libraries and higher education. He is the information architect for the Lamson Library at Plymouth State University’s in New Hampshire, and recently received the prestigious Mellon Award for Technology Collaboration for his ground-breaking WPopac.
The award was presented at a ceremony on Monday, Dec. 4 at the fall meeting of the Coalition for Networked Information, in Washington, D.C. Bisson’s project was selected as one of only 10 recipients out of several hundred nominees for 2006, the first year the MATC awards have been granted. The decision was made by a panel that included Tim Berners-Lee, and Mitchell Baker, CEO of the Mozilla Foundation.
4. In the realm of advanced digital applications, we are interested in collaboration, not competition.
No formal comments.
PowerPoint slides available at http://maisonbisson.com/blog/post/11539/.
Tamera Hanken is Library Manager at the Pearl A. Wanamaker Library at Tacoma Community College in Tacoma, Washington.
5. Budgets are the outcomes of political processes; budget decisions have ethical and moral implications.
4. In the realm of advanced digital applications, we are interested in collaboration, not competition.
Daniel Joudrey joined the Simmons College LIS faculty in 2005 and teaches courses in the organization of information, descriptive cataloging, and subject cataloging. Prior to coming to Simmons, Joudrey was a teaching fellow and research assistant at the University of Pittsburgh for Dr. Arlene Taylor, and was also a metadata policy intern at the Library of Congress. Joudrey is assisting Dr. Taylor in the writing of the forthcoming third edition of The Organization of Information. Joudrey received his Ph.D. and MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh and his B.A. in theatre from George Washington University. His dissertation, Building Puzzles and Growing Pearls: A Qualitative Exploration of Determining Aboutness was completed in December 2005 and identified the many varied processes and operations which comprise the subject analysis process. He has just recently completed the second phase of his long-range study on cataloging education. His current research focuses on the theoretical foundations of subject determination and identifying user-derived categories used in image tagging and sorting.
7. The future is longer than the past.