Monday, August 16, 2004

Future of Cataloging

Metadata Leadership by Roy Tennant appears in Library Journal this month. As always with his articles lots to agree and disagree with.
You may not believe that our dependence on MARC alone limits our future (see "Building a New Bibliographic Infrastructure," Digital Libraries, LJ 1/04, p. 38). But you can't deny that libraries now deal with a wide variety of metadata formats.
I'll bet most libraries get along just fine right now using only MARC. I've yet to see any ONIX records or know where to get any. Never seen nor had need of a VRA Core record. Yet my library serves our patrons. That is not to say I shouldn't be aware of them and use them when the time is right, just that for most of us, right now, MARC is still fine for most institutions.
How important is this problem? There are now literally millions of useful online items that lack MARC cataloging and will likely never be cataloged in MARC. We ignore these resources at our peril. Our users will justifiably seek assistance elsewhere, as many already have.
Our users have always had other sources of information. I read the newspaper, magazines, ask friends for advice, listen to the radio, buy books, etc. The library was never the most used source for information. I think my asking friends for advice has been hurt more by Google than my library use. Now when considering a major purchase I check out on-line comments about the product rather than asking a friend or two about their experience. I'll still check out Consumer Reports at the library, but I might use the copy they provide on-line.

I do agree, however, with the main concern of the article, that catalogers should be savvy with other metadata formats than MARC. That has been the scope of this 'blog from the start. Worth reading and discussing.

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