Hi PCC colleagues,

Gemberling has hit the crux of a common misinterpretation of the LC report.  I am decidedly not recommending that libraries attempt to compete head to head with the Amazoogles.  I agree that would be unwise.  What I am saying (and which is after all the main topic and title of the report--the catalog's integration with other discovery tools) is that the catalog needs to find its place in the larger scholarly information universe.  Based on the interviewees' comments how to revitalize library catalogs, I am proposing three strategies that to one degree or another, separate the catalog's discovery function from its delivery and management functions.  The ideal would be to make it as easy for a student or researcher to find, then borrow a book on the Web as it is for them to buy a book on the Web.  The library community won't be able to achieve the ideal in a single step, and not by acting as individual libraries, but more collaboratively than before. 

Sections 1 to 3 of the  blueprint (pages 16-17) have gotten very little attention in the public discussion so far, but they are essential first steps to planning for revitalizing catalogs.  Section 1, "define the community to be served" is where the library would decide who they want their catalog to serve (the catalog's "niche" if you will), and what those people want and need--through an evidence-based process (recommendation 1.2).  Section 2, "choose a strategic option" would help the library define its approach--continue with an ILS-centered approach, in which the local OPAC is greatly improved (as at NC State, and as described in section 5 of the blueprint), or open the collection to greater demand and use by sharing a catalog with other libraries (as in the OhioLink and other emerging models for shared catalogs)? Third, what are the library's possibilities for making its collections more visible in the Amazoogles, through partnerships with other libraries and with initiatives like the Open Content Alliance, Million Book Project, and/or the Google Library Project?  I should note here that none of the three strategies is better than another, and the blueprint should be taken as a planning tool, as I note on page 12 ("Different research libraries and the organizations that serve them will choose different strategies ..." ) 

Section 3 of the blueprint is equally important.  For catalogs to be integrated with other discovery tools, the data structures and systems that run them must interoperate in the larger information systems environment.  On page 38, I say "Interviewees seem to agree that however it is done, catalogs must blend into the user's environment and engage users more.  The user's experience needs to be more seamless, with easy movement between the services that occupy students and scholars--course pages, commercial databases, repositories, search engines, and so on.  Although they may have expressed it differently, interviewees find linking in and out of the catalog a crucial component of what is needed to move ahead ... The future will require the kind of catalog that is one link in a chain of services enabling users to find, select, and obtain the information objects they want."  In summary, a student or scholar should have many starting points on the Web enabling them to find catalog data and thus, library collections. 

--Karen

At 07:36 PM 05/02/06, you wrote:
Jim,
Thanks for the overview of your article.  Hereís another perspective on the ďCopernican shiftĒ analogy.  Actually, I just got an email from Mann that I donít think he would mind me sharing in part and which
seems to address that idea. You wrote of the shift as: ďthe (evolving) catalog as one tool among many for online information discovery, and not as the center of the library's information discovery universe.Ē  Hereís what he said:
 
[I]t occurs to me that research libraries that _do_ "market" their services as being in competition with Google et al. may be creating self-fulfilling scenarios for irrelevance.  If they don't promote themselves as _alternatives_ to Google--the "niche" I talked about--then there's no way they can ever get adequate funding to be _competitors_ to Google for people's attention.  In other words, if libraries don't hold up the importance of substantial onsite book collections, arranged by subject and cataloged so that overviews are possible, and if they just go the route, instead, of providing banks of terminals and lots of study rooms and coffee bars, then their funding _will_ be diminished, because those things aren't necessary and people can get them remotely.  "Be careful of what you ask for" is a warning we have to heed--many libraries are _asking_ to be regarded as superfluous when they attempt to compete with Google in the "business model" with "market position" instead of promoting themselves as the alternative to Google.
 
            --Ted Gemberling
 

From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [ mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Jim LeBlanc
Sent: Tuesday, May 02, 2006 3:36 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Calhoun report
 
Dear PCC Colleagues:
     As one of the authors of the LCC study cited by both Karen Calhoun and Ted Gemberling, I'd like to toss another ante onto the table.
     The paper in question, "Exploring the Potential of a Virtual Undergraduate Library Collection Based on the Hierarchical Interface to LC Classification [HILCC]," presents an extension of work started at Columbia University a few years ago and continued at Cornell University more recently.  For Columbia, the goal was to leverage existing MARC data to build a separate subject catalog for their e-resources; for Cornell, the goal was to use a similar strategy to examine the possibility of creating such a catalog for a library's undergraduate (print) collection.  Adam Chandler and I did conclude that the technique would not scale well beyond 150,000 titles, but that it could work very well for a collection of less than 150,000 titles.
     I think it's important to keep in mind that Calhoun is careful not to "throw the baby out with the bathwater" in her paper, in spite of her emphasis on the diminished importance of the catalog.  She says: "If one accepts the premise that library collections have value, then library leaders must move swiftly to establish the catalog within the framework of online information discovery systems of all kinds" (Calhoun, 7).  Her paper suggests (I think) a kind of Copernican shift towards using the (evolving) catalog as one tool among many for online information discovery, and not as the center of the library's information discovery universe.  Research on, and implementation of models such as HILCC represent attempts to add more such tools to our belt.
     The formal, revised version of Cornell's HILCC study is forthcoming in Library Resources & Technical Services in July.

-- Jim LeBlanc, Cornell University Library


At 01:38 PM 5/2/2006, you wrote:

Dear PCC colleagues:
Since weíre stressing over LCís series announcement, I thought I would pass on to you a discussion I wrote of the Calhoun and Mann reports on the future of cataloging.  They have immediate relevance to the series issues, since LCís decision is very much in line with the ďgeneral directionĒ of Calhounís recommendations.  Here I intend to advocate Mannís criticism of the Calhoun report.  In case you havenít seen the report or his review, here they are: 
 
Calhoun: http://dspace.library.cornell.edu/bitstream/1813/2670/1/LC+64+report+draft2b.pdf
Mann:  http://guild2910.org/AFSCMECalhounReviewREV.pdf
 
I also discuss the University of California report on ďRethinking how we provide bibliographical servicesĒ below. 
 
...



There are a couple of areas where I think Mann isnít exactly right.  He suggests near the end that Calhoun is unaware of the relationship between LCSH and LCC.  That she should realize that you canít assign LCC numbers if you donít assign LCSH headings.  As I told him over e-mail, I suspect she is aware of the relationship, given that she cites a study at the bottom of p. 17 (and footnote 13, p. 46) entitled, ďExploring the Potential of a Virtual Undergraduate Library Collection Based on the Hierarchical Interface to LC Classification,Ē by Chandler and LeBlanc.  She writes of both LCC classification and LCSH, so I assume she must be aware that they have a relationship.  I also pointed out that it probably is possible to use LCC and not LCSH; after all, lots of public libraries use DDC and LCSH, so there isnít a necessary link.  LCC and LCSH are two different subject schemes. 
 
But like Mann, I donít understand why one would want to use LCC and not LCSH.  It seems to be an attempt to get rid of some work and make cataloging cheaper.  That is, I donít know why one would want to unless itís because we canít afford to use both anymore, which is what I think the real agenda of Calhounís study is.  It canít be done without reducing usersí access to resources.  LCC allows serendipitous discovery and browsing, but LCSH is less arbitrary: you can use multiple subject headings, but there can only be one call number for a book.  So I agree with the thrust of Mannís argument while recognizing that thereís a bit of rhetorical exaggeration there.
 
This is a good place to bring up one more point.  If you actually look at the study by Chandler and LeBlanc, you will find that though Calhoun cites it as pointing towards a great possibility (apparently getting online subject access from LCC without need for LCSH), the study itself is actually a kind of report of failure, if I understand it correctly, at least in regard to large collections:
 
http://dspace.library.cornell.edu/bitstream/1813/2223/2/HILCC-LRTS-Preprint.pdf
 
The authors found that they couldnít provide such subject access to a collection of over 150,000 volumes (p. 8).  Now, admittedly, they hold out some hope that this could be improved somehow.  But they certainly donít present it as a new option for major research libraries.  Do we want to plan our libraries around theoretical possibilities or actual experience?

...


I appreciate the need to achieve both quality and efficiency in our cataloging.  But right now, it appears that some important principles are threatened.  As one person wrote on the list last week, ďletís not throw the baby out with the bathwater.Ē  But if we have to because the American people donít want to support libraries financially, letís at least face that and deal with its significance rather than claiming we donít need our established practices anymore. 
            --Ted Gemberling, UAB Lister Hill Library, Birmingham, Ala. 
 


**************************************************
Jim LeBlanc, Ph.D.
Head, Database Management Services
Library Technical Services
110A Olin Library
Cornell University
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Karen Calhoun
Associate University Librarian
for Technical Services
111A Olin Library
Cornell University
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