Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bibliographic Control: a myth or a reality?

One of my library friends today asked the question: Did you read the Final Report of the Bibliographic Control Working Group?
Well, yes, of course, I answer. It's quite similar to what they said on November 13. Then we started talking about RDA. Gulp.

There is so much cynicism related to RDA, its appalling. Awhile ago I was thinking about how we adapt technology to "traditional" cataloging practice. The webcast from this committee had just gone up a week before, so EVERYONE was clamoring about how RDA is going to die, blah blah. But the people in blog-o-land are saying that there's no way RDA is going to be shelved, because ALA and LC are dying for the revenues that will be generated by selling it to every cataloger from here to Bangkok. So people are speculating that it will continue forward, even though there's very little practice to back up FRBR. I think it's a straight-up mess. I also think that the powers-that-be are underestimating the ability of catalogers to totally ignore new standards. I think that if RDA sucks, people will just ignore it. Which I think is TERRIBLE, by the way, because it just entrenches AACRII even more, and AACR is horrible (cataloging based on CARDS?! Are you kidding me?).

One of our other library friends jumped into the mix, as well. She's a librarian, and she's in library school. Obviously, talking about the Working Group leads to talking about the state of cataloging education in the graduate schools. If you're wondering, the state is abysmal. While cataloging practice might be taught, cataloging theory is really not. As one of them pointed out, the Working Group says that we need more bibliographic control classes, but where are you going to find the faculty that will teach such a class?

In short, we all agreed we need to go get our PhDs and change the world.

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"Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness." —Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril.