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----- Original Message -----
From: "Karl Miller" <[log in to unmask]>
Some general comments...
> Reflecting on the situation at our University, this year will be the first
> time in ten years a vacancy in our cataloging department will be filled.
Part of the problem is (at least in my opinion) that these positions usually
call for graduate degrees in Library Science...and are thus very expensive
to
fill. I have many years of experience in cataloging and in digital
databases...
but lack the requisite degrees! As a result, even if I weren't along in
years,
there would be little opportunity to put my skills to use...
> As for cataloging digital information...I am not quite sure I
> understand what you mean.
I would suspect this would mean cataloguing the actual digital-information
holdings of a library...i.e. on hard drives, CD-R's/DVD-R's, floppies,
etc...
and possibly setting up links so that the desired digital files could be
opened in the best available program for their format once they were found.
I don't know if there is any such software, though I can visualize how it
should work in theory!
> Some years ago we had a project to add WEB sites to our online catalog.
> Needless to say, we all know the transitory nature of such things. As I
> recall an automated system would regularly check on availability of those
> web sites, however, I don't know if it really checked up on the content of
them.
This is what Google (and its competitors) supposedly do...
> These days, it would seem like a waste of time for a library to catalog
> WEB sites since google et al do it better.
Exactly! Since search engines have invented the wheel, why reinvent it?
However,
most institutions do have large digital holdings (i.e. all the files on all
their computers) which are effectively uncatalogued. As well, as physical
entities (i.e. books, phonorecords, films, etc.) are digitized, they can to
some extent become searchable, at least for text content...which could be
an adjunct to a digital catalog of digital holdings.
> Thinking about libraries...
> I am reminded of something Leonard Bernstein wrote in an article in the
> New York Times. The title of the article was "The Symphony is Dead," a
> paraphrase of a notion being promulgated at the time, "God is Dead." He
> suggested that Symphony orchestras were rapidly becoming museums. Perhaps
> it depends on how one defines libraries, but it would seem that could be
> said about them as well.
Ideally, one of the functions of any library should be to serve as a museum,
at least for written/printed works! If I want to see a newspaper from last
year...
or 1937 (and likewise a magazine, or a Victor record catalog, or...) I will
probably check first at an available library. The alternative to this would
be to discard information and informational works once they become
"obsolete"
(yesterday? last week? the 20th century?) on the basis that nobody needs to
access this...or ought to want to! I won't go into the extremes that might
imply...
> Sorry for rambling, but I guess I am just trying to get a sense of some
> of more general issues that effect what those of us in preservation do.
> Hopefully my note will inspire some of you on the list to share your
> perspective.
Which I tried to do above...
Steven C. Barr