Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Highlights of a Hot Topic

The Technical Services Special Interest Section wisely chose the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control to be the focus of its Hot Topic session. Fortunately for TS-SIS, the Chair of the Working Group, Jose-Marie Griffiths, Dean and Professor, School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was a VIP for SEAALL and could be in attendance at the TS Hot Topic. Richard Amelung ably presented the report for which I will blog highlights.

Many crucial questions were part of this session. For example, the question of how to design a catalog for a spectrum of users from the highly proficient to the clueless (my choice of words)is one that desperately needs answering. Another question that resonates in my mind is does the web really organize itself? And should authority work change its focus so that catalogs indicate who authors, editors, and creators aren't, in other words employ differentiation?

Other new ways of viewing our work include pursuing streamlined standards. Consulting other related information communities about standards is an option. However, the right communities need to partner with librarians for bibliographic control; we need to work with those who have the same goals as we do. Streamlined standards ideally means less time spent tweaking records. There appears to be a low level of trust of shared records.

Resources for Description and Access (RDA) has been in development for years. RDA needs to be marketable. Institutions need to adopt it or it will not be economically successful. The recommendation is to start using it and adapt it as we go along rather than spend increasing amounts to massage RDA to perfection.

A dramatic moment in the program came when the question was posed: is the Working Group a political cover, is it steered by LC? Richard Amelung answered that it was not steered by any group. In fact, he noted a lack of push for the radical. The impetus for the group came from the library community which wanted to move in a different direction. Dean Griffiths commented that the charge was that of the group itself and that LC will not be present at the deliberations at the end of August when the Working Group meets to synthesize their findings. Two outside people will help write the report. Moreover, library organizations named the members of the Working Group; LC did not.

TS is to be congratulated for selecting a stellar Hot Topic. The room was packed and the content of this meeting was rich indeed!

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