----- Original Message -----
From: "Susan Stinson" <[log in to unmask]>
> I must say that the apples/oranges issue is one I deplore on a regular
> basis and we have covered that well, and often, in the office as well as
> on this list. However, every time RDI comes up getting trashed I must
> respond and point out that before it came along, we had NOTHING to use
> to search for 78s that was remotely like the NUC, fir instance. When I
> came here in 1979, all I could do to locate a recording label, number,
> etc. was to hunt through old Victor catalogs, old Columbia catalogs, old
> Brunswick catalogs, the occasional discography.....well, you get the
> picture. A lot of people in this field, many of whom are now retired,
> worked long to get even that (the RDI) as a step in the right direction.
> A lot of further effort has taken place since 1979; there are dozens of
> discographies, there are more items cataloged online (audio apples on
> the OCLC orange) but there is so much data that it's a huge task at this
> point even with the advent of bigger, faster, cheaper computers, as our
> budgets continue to shrink, or only stagnate and staffing becomes a
> memory. So RDI has meant that I spend lots less time hunting through
> old secondary sources, and while it has its problems it is still a most
> useful tool.
> Some of you may not know that we have loaded all the Syracuse entries
> from RDI onto our own library OPAC and our cataloger is in the process
> of, among other things, correcting and adding information as she comes
> upon the need for it in our listings. For any of you who are using RDI
> and have questions, why not contact the institution listed as the owner
> and ask for the correct information - they have the disc and should be
> able to tell you. That is what we do.
Well, I was the one that was "bashing RDI" (admittedly, without having
the opportunity to use it that much, which is another one of its
problems!). What flaws I have seen came primarily from the fact that
much of the data entry was done from photographs of phonorecords,
and done by people with no experience in discography or even dealing
with 78rpm records.
As well, it was created at a time when a "state of the art" computer
was an IBM 360 mainframe machine, with (here I quote my old Fortran
textbook) "as much as a full megabyte of system memory in rare cases."
I still recall the reaction of Len Kunstadt at the ARSC convention
where RDI was introduced, when he found out that take data would NOT
be included in data records!
In any case, what I think should be done with RDI is to use it as a
basic skeleton on which to construct some sort of ultimate 78rpm
database...by checking each data record for obvious errors and,
where possible, adding information. The goal would be this: by using
a combination of RDI, the "Abrams Files," print discographic
publications (of which there are many, but a lot are rarities,
often personally distributed to a dozen or so users), surviving
record catalogs and supplements, and...finally...digital (and
possibly other, such as 3x5's or handwritten lists) catalogs of
individual collections insofar as they exist.
This is what the late AVRL was supposed to become...and is one
(or was?) of "Project Gramophone." The eventual result would be
a digitally-based and (one hopes) readily accessible catalog
providing discographic information on every 78 phonorecord
which has ever existed (and how many exist today). I have
dreamed of this since I first read about the Commodore 64,
and especially since I first had the opportunity to use
dBASE III+ and see how much of an improvement it was over
my 20,000-odd 3x5 cards! Admittedly, my old 80286 running
III+ would take several minutes to index a data table
containing 1350 data/phonorecords...but it would have
taken about a week to do the same thing with the cards!
The question now becomes...will the advance of technology
inspire an attempt at this ultimate database before the last
of us silly old fools who actually care about its creation
go to our final reward?!
Steven C. Barr