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Without the Library of Congress work in the bibliographic arena, our costs to do our work, across the entire world will go up, our backlogs will increase, our access to knowledge will continue to decline, and eventually we won’t be able to provide cataloging and access in any quality way, given the increasing quantity of published, nonpublished, print, non-print, and electronic formats.
It’s a no-brainer. Library of Congress must be funded adequately to continue full level, high quality cataloging, Library of Congress catalogers must be secure in their future and their ability to continue their excellent work, the Library of Congress administration must be made to understand the importance of these issues, and the U.S. government should support, by way of increased funding for cataloging and authority control, this very critical economic issue.
From: Christine Schwartz firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Aug 7, 2007 4:03 PM Subject: Written Testimony to the LC Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control To: email@example.com Dear Dr. Griffiths, Thank you for the opportunity to submit written testimony to the Working Group. I am an experienced cataloger and head of the Cataloging Department at Princeton Theological Seminary Libraries. I have worked for 18 years in cataloging exclusively in theological libraries. My experience includes cataloging in a variety of different formats as well as non-MARC metadata creation. Four months ago, I started a cataloging blog, Cataloging Futures. The focus of the blog is the future of cataloging and metadata in libraries. I have tried to follow the issues and provide resources for other catalogers via this blog. The activities of the Working Group has been a main focus. What I've written here are my own thoughts influenced by the presenters and the presentation notes from the Working Group's public meetings and the conversations on cataloging/metadata discussion lists.
* The Library of Congress needs to answer several questions about their leadership and future role for cataloging and metadata in order to regain the trust of the library community after their SAR decision from June 2006. They should provide to the national and global library community a detailed mission statement and strategic plan about where LC is going to put their resources and emphases with regard to cataloging and metadata creation for the next five to ten years.
* The hallmarks of this plan should be honesty and clarity, so that the library community will have a better understanding as to where the Library of Congress is headed in the "Web world". This is the most important contribution LC can make to our future. We as a library community need to know where LC is going, so that we can adjust and change our policies, procedures, and workflows. Each library has a different response to the digital turn depending on a lot of complex factors, most importantly, the users we serve and the ratio of print to digital that has been collected and will continue to be collected. I think David Bade spoke most eloquently about the importance of communicating with and providing resources to local communities and institutions.
* However, we will all be moving in the direction of providing more library tools and resources on the Web. I would like to see the Library of Congress take a leadership role by addressing how we get on the Web as a library community. Could the Working Group report suggest strategies for change that go beyond LC's individual mission? The Library of Congress, our national library, could initiate and lead in this way.
* LC's focus of looking to cut corners reveals a real lack of vision with regard to the development of Library of Congress legacy cataloging tools and standards: LCC, LCSH, LCNAF, MARC 21, LCRI. I think we can be much more creative about adapting these tools for the Web following the example Diane Hillmann provides in the work she's facilitated with DCMI and RDA. The speakers from the second meeting spoke to this issue (much better than I could).
* Following the W3C model, LC cataloging tools should be "webified" and open for public use as Clifford Lynch described in his summary of the second meeting. There should be an attempt to make cataloging tools, particularly LCSH and the LC name authority file, attractive to the larger metadata community outside libraries. If after a period of time they are not adopted as global metadata standards then their development could be cut back. To cut back now seems shortsighted. The Library of Congress could continue their collaborations and also look for new partnerships to share the costs of developing, maintaining, and distributing LC web cataloging/metadata tools.
If LC wants the library community to step in and contribute more to bibliographic data creation, we still need these tools to do the work. I'd recommend that the Library of Congress focus on getting our bibliographic structures and standards on the Web with open access as their main focus for the future of bibliographic control.
* With regard to OCLC's role, as Jennifer Bowen mentioned, the bar could be lower for librarian's participation in PCC and OCLC's Enhance program. I would go so far as to suggest completely open the editing capabilities in OCLC WorldCat. A lot of duplication of effort in editing errors in access points (not just fine tuning description) would be eliminated if all libraries participating in OCLC could really contribute to enhancing bibliographic data (not just the library who gets the bibliographic record into WorldCat first). This fits in well with the model discussed at the third meeting of monographic records having a life cycle.
* Another idea: Could LCSH be developed to be used with both a post-coordination model and a pre-coordination model? Why does it have to be an either/or? As metadata schemes become more diverse, why can't our controlled vocabularies be applied with more variety as well. Also, enriching bibliographic data with user contributed tags is a great idea.
* The cataloging "traditionalists" vs. "modernist" arguments need to be set aside. The reality is that both camps essentially want the same thing, i.e., good quality metadata, but are approaching it in different ways and with different vocabularies. While its a small group so far, most of us conversing out here in the cataloging blogosphere know that traditional catalogers and metadata specialists aren't really that far apart.
Cataloging=Metadata is my working mantra. More importantly, it is also my working reality. For example, I'm on a Metadata Standards Committee that's charged with decision making for both digital and print collections. I suppose this is the current reality and future for many of us--a foot in both worlds.
* Bringing experienced catalogers along and encourage new librarians coming into the field is another area that the Library of Congress could play a unique role. This is already happening with the LC/ALCTS Cataloging for the 21st Century workshops. I hope it will continue. Both Jane Greenberg and Jennifer Bowen mentioned the importance of articulating a positive vision for the future. This is what we need from the Library of Congress rather than the doomsday approach over the last few years. I don't think all libraries are in competition with Google or Amazon.com and the overly urgent tone about our demise is not conducive to good decision making and moving forward.
* I would encourage the Library of Congress to consider using Web 2.0 social networking tools to advance catalogers' education. Such tools as webcasts, podcasts, wikis, and blogs could be used for cataloging and metadata education. Also, these tools could be used an an informal means of communication and input between the Library of Congress and the cataloging and metadata communities.
* It would be nice if we could drop from the future of cataloging debate the old, worn out cataloger stereotypes. While I'm sure there's some truth to them, we are not a monolithic group of Luddites who "only think in terms of black and white" or "are obsessed with creating the 'perfect record'". These characterizations are insulting. In my experience catalogers are dedicated professionals who are constantly trying to do more with fewer resources. If only we had time to create a "perfect record"!
* In conclusion, the Library of Congress has been the standard bearer for bibliographic data for the nation's library community. We understand that libraries will have to adjust to the changes happening at the Library of Congress. This is no small thing for our profession. Cataloging on a daily basis involves a lot of decision making.
Our most important guiding assumption is the preeminent role of Library of Congress bibliographic records. When searching, we look for these records, we prefer them over others, we make judgments about classification, call numbers, forms of headings, and subject headings in relation to what the Library of Congress has done. If this gold standard is going away, we need to know. The decisions the Library of Congress makes now will have a profound influence on our day-to-day work as catalogers and on the nation's diverse libraries as a whole.
Christine Schwartz Head Cataloger Princeton Theological Seminary Libraries P.O. Box 111 Princeton, NJ 08542 voice: 609-497-7938 fax: 609-497-1826 email: firstname.lastname@example.org blog: http://www.catalogingfutures.com From: Jeff Siemon email@example.com Date: Jun 20, 2007 3:14 PM Subject: Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control To: firstname.lastname@example.org Dear Dr. Griffiths, Thank you for your service on the Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control.
As a librarian with 16 years experience working in graduate theological seminaries, my experience is that master and doctoral students and faculty daily depend upon precoordinated subject strings for precise and comprehensive searching in their fields of research.
Also, I've been deeply concerned about the reduced quality of subject analysis in the field of religion in Library of Congress records in the last 10 years (resulting from several retirements in the mid-1990s.) Further reductions in subject specialist at LC can only diminish the quality of U.S. research work. And when U.S. academic research declines, U.S. competitiveness declines.
Sincerely, Jeff Siemon Digital Resources Librarian McAlister Library Fuller Theological Seminary 135 N. Oakland Avenue Pasadena, CA 91182 email@example.com (626) 584-5221 (voice) From: Simpson, Sarah firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Jun 12, 2007 4:17 PM Subject: Future of Bibliographic Control To: email@example.com I hear you're looking for public librarians comments for your working group. I do have a number of concerns about the future of bibliographic control.
First, I do believe there is a real and lasting need for controlled vocabulary. I definitely think we should enable and use tagging, particularly to identify and cross-reference the terms people use to search. However, only a controlled vocabulary is really able to adequately collocate similar materials. I think we need more ways to access material, not fewer ways, and giving up controlled vocabulary to depend on user-created tagging will result in less access to our materials. I do think we need to use our professional librarians and our technology to make sure that like materials end up with the same subject headings. Tags can be helpful in allowing us to accomplish this, but they can't be the only access point.
Second, series are very important to public libraries. Our customers really want to be able to search by series, and we are not often able to create our own series authorities.
On top of that, those (usually academic) libraries that are creating series don't often get the books that we get, which are often purely for entertainment purposes. Currently, we're letting our authority control vendor change all of our untraced series to traced series, but that may end up causing conflicts, and it also doesn't allow us to keep previously established untraced series – it's an all or nothing proposition.
Third, we trust LC copy. We have separate guidelines set up for LC copy and it is handled by a paraprofessional cataloger. We don't spend as much time on these records, and we accept the subject headings and suggested Dewey numbers. We are beginning to notice a decline in the quality of these records. Since hiring more staff is rarely a possibility, I'm not sure what we will do if we can't trust these records. Our professional catalogers can't take on that many more titles, but I don't believe we will be able to get the paraprofessional position upgraded. On top of staffing problems, the titles will also take a considerable longer amount of time to catalog, as we will have to spend more time checking their accuracy and their access points and subject analysis.
I know people keep saying that no one uses our library catalogs, but our library catalog use is up over 50% this year, and we are working hard at getting as many materials as possible available through the catalog. In addition, over 85% of our materials budget is spent on physical items – I realize the digital world needs attention, too, but we need to be able to identify and shelve these items in a logical manner.
I am concerned that the drive to create RDA seems to be falling apart. I tend to think it is vital that we work together with the digital catalogers (metadatists, if you prefer) to come up with something that will work for both of us. Our materials ALL need to be accessible through our catalogs, the interfaces need to be easier and more user-friendly, and we need to be able to have metadata for both types of materials that can allow them to be searched through that same interface. Believe me, in the public libraries we definitely understand the value of electronic resources, but we also understand that books aren't going away any time soon. We need to be able to adequately describe all those things. And, I have to say, legacy data is important – no one has the time OR money to recreate those bibliographic records – we can move away from MARC if we have to, but we need to be able to accommodate MARC data or to be able to convert it without losing that immense value.
While we're talking about giving up controlled access, the Web resources are starting to realize that tagging and keyword searching isn't all it's cracked up to be when you really need to find things in a large pool of information.