JLS (jlsjlsjls) wrote,

Back to school ...

Been a long time since I was on the learning side of a classroom instead of the teaching side, but today I (and three other members of my cataloguing team) spent the afternoon at an introductory session for RDA, a major rewrite of international cataloguing standards/rules that is supposed to kick into action early next year. Tons of useful information scribbled down ... this afternoon was FAR more useful than the official webinars, which tend to be about how wonderfully the expensive online RDA manual has been programmed than about the content of said manual.

Quite interesting to learn that, after all the build-up and fooferaw, it's still possible that the entire thing could be shot down. Mainly riding on Library of Congress' decision about it ... if they decide they don't like the new rules, then, since most North American libraries get their cataloguing information from LC, virtually nobody else will adopt it either. So we could be getting all excited/stressed about nothing.

On one point my opinion has not changed ... I still have the impression that 3/4 of the time and money spent prepping for and designing RDA was consumed by coming up with pompous terminology rather than practicalities. But that's just my cynical, appreciative-of-plain-English side talking and my suspicion that many (not all, but many) committees are made up of the people that sensible folk are dying to get out of the office for a few hours each month so they can uninterruptedly get on with accomplishing something useful). ;p

There are quite a few features I like. All the Latin is gone (yes, non-library-employed readers, the previous set of rules also suffered so badly from pomposity that there was oh-so-useful-and-meaningful-to-the-general-public LATIN used in cataloguing!). Most of the abbreviations are gone ... words and terminology are to be spelled out completely rather than coded so that only library-folk understand it. All information from the book or other item in hand is to be recorded exactly as it appears on the item ... no more fudging it around. Pluses and minuses to this last ... what the library patron sees in the record will match exactly what is on the book, but a ton more information that most patrons don't give a damn about will be appearing (do you really care about seeing all 10+ cities that the publisher has offices in just because they happen to be listed on the title page?). However this is tied to something else that I'm glad to see gone ... the old "rule of three" that stated that if there were more than three authors (or illustrators or editors, etc.), then only the first one would be recorded and searchable; now everybody who worked on a publication gets "credit" in the library catalogue.

Am also glad to see the gmd gone, but not terribly impressed by the 336/337/338 fields that are replacing it ... damned clumsy those are, not to mention being a major typo minefield.

Overall, the big pluses are the information in the catalogue being far more geared towards clarity for the patrons rather than using arcane terminology that only had meaning for the library-trained. The big minus is the overkill on the record-exactly-as-on-the-item-every-little-irrelevant-scrap-of-information-on-the-item ... in a nutshell this one is going to mean taking ten times longer to get something catalogued and circulating, and far greater opportunity for typos in the catalogue (which means screwed-up searchability). The time thing is a biggie in my workplace since my department is cost-recovery rather than profit-making and our rates are based on the average length of time it takes to catalogue a particular type of item at a particular level.

So overall, the pluses outnumber the minuses, but the few minuses are major ones (there are a few more, such as the proposed new method of recording author info potentially violating this province's Privacy Act, but I'm not gonna bore you with that here)

Gonna put in some weekend time whipping all my scribbles into a quick outline for my team, and hopefully getting started on charting the big changes into a new section of my department's internal webpage. Funfunfun!!!

But first things first ... today's mail included the newly-published volume six of Empowered and I do think reading that takes priority over note transcription. ;-) And I brought home a fresh wad of book notes for catdesk ... need to get the new list for that posted as well.
Tags: reading, work

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