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Danielle said:

"I think we all agree that we need more investments in cataloging and
metadata creation, not fewer, although those investments *will not and
cannot be targeted at traditional cataloging, the way we've 'always'
done it.* Yee and others would be much better equipped to argue against
outsourcing and eliminating cataloging practices if they recognized that
essential truth... I'm a medievalist by training..." (end)

Danielle, I think the way we've done it in the past 100 years is in
several ways the best way (not in all, to be sure), albeit the tradition
is not long as you say.  I just posted the following on AUTOCAT: 

I hope everyone is willing to suffer my getting philosophical.  Everyone
is so big on "conversation" these days: Conversation is knowledge, etc.
(I think "content", in some sense, too).  Admittedly, I think blogs for
instance, are great, even as they admittedly can give us just another
way of avoiding the "on the ground", "face-to-face" realities we
physically encounter.  And of course, I don't deny that in all of this
participating, dialoging, conversing, etc. there is "love" and
"community" to be found online (see Clay Shirkey here:
http://tinyurl.com/2em6zs ), in some sense, but it seems to me that love
is *especially willing* to engage in difficult and substantial
conversations surrounding practical, on the ground realities (not
displacing the need for theories!) - something I do not sense is
happening in the area of vocabulary control for instance (do some in the
library / library cataloging world think this is going to mysteriously
happen "on the fly", "as we go", etc.? [like Wikipedia] - are there more
concrete reasons [besides faith] for thinking these things will be
effectively taken care of that I am not aware of?)  

Now - and I am getting to the point - it seems to me that it is not only
an act of love to pay close and careful attention (being like a
collector who finds things to be interesting and unique) to specific
items as well as the broader [again: unique and interesting] contexts
that we, as catalogers deal with.  It is also love when librarians
*explicitly recognize the need* to call something out there in our
shared world *these words and not other words - this form and not other
forms* for the sake of common understanding (we may not totally agree
with everything, but...) - because we ultimately want to not only be
able to recognize others, but to be involved with them - and to
hopefully accomplish great work with them.  This is what catalogers do
as they carefully and lovingly examine and describe items in their
larger contexts for the sake of making things findable through words
that the wider community can recognize and identify with (not always
their first picks, but we try to fix that to by working together).  Clay
Shirkey may call what we do "imposing your words, classifications,
taxonomies on me" (i.e. power, domination, see his article "Ontology is
Overrated" for more) and look for love in other places, but I would
appeal to him to recognize that if that is indeed the case to some
extent, there is also great love mixed in here as well.  Now - if we in
the larger library community don't see the importance of the hard work
of doing this among ourselves - and this is where the lack of emphasis
on cataloging in our profession comes in - how will we find good,
effective cooperation (hopefully for the common good) with the other
metadata communities? 

Or does anyone think all of this can be taken care of by making all our
authority records web-pages (URIs), or something like that?  I am
interested to hear more about how this might work.  Anyone want to
tackle that (start new thread :) )?

Nathan Rinne
Media Cataloging Technician
ISD 279 - Educational Service Center (ESC) 
11200 93rd Ave. North
Maple Grove, MN. 55369
Work phone: 763-391-7183
 

-----Original Message-----
From: Discussion List for issues related to cataloging & metadata
education & training [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Danielle
Plumer
Sent: Friday, July 27, 2007 10:28 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Martha Yee's comments on LIS education (fwd)

The text of Martha Yee's paper, for those not on AUTOCAT (like me), has
been posted on the cataloging wiki at James Madison University as a word
document. You can get it at http://tinyurl.com/2vcqvx

My major concern with Yee's paper, and with others like it, is that she
doesn't seem willing to admit that the tools being used for automated
indexing and classification of materials are extremely complex and the
subject of massive investments in research and development. Google and
Amazon's algorithms are much more than "word counting or counting the
number of times users gain access to a particular URL," and the presence
of these over-simplistic and indeed mistaken attacks makes me uninclined
to give any of Yee's other arguments much credence.

Where automated systems really shine is with textually-rich materials,
particularly full-text, an area with which library cataloging has not
traditionally been concerned. Automated systems can do nothing with a
physical object if it has not already been converted to digital form;
instead, these systems rely on human-created surrogates (metadata)
generated by publishers, authors, readers, and, yes, catalogers. I
myself am convinced that more and more materials will be available
digitally in the future, including not only new works but also products
of retrospective conversion. It therefore seems common sense to me that
cataloging needs to learn to use these new tools, and, therefore, that
cataloging education needs to change to include more and different
methods of information organization. I actually applaud organization of
information courses that look at how supermarkets are organized!

Although neither a professor of cataloging nor a cataloger myself (or so
I've been told, as I work primarily with non-MARC metadata), I have
great respect for cataloging, and, indeed, I know folks at Google and
Yahoo! who express continued respect for and appreciation of the work of
catalogers. I think we all agree that we need more investments in
cataloging and metadata creation, not fewer, although those investments
will not and cannot be targeted at traditional cataloging, the way we've
"always" done it. Yee and others would be much better equipped to argue
against outsourcing and eliminating cataloging practices if they
recognized that essential truth.

N.B. I'm a medievalist by training, so I have to point out that our
"traditions" of cataloging have mostly been developed in a mere century
of practice! I don't think that's quite enough time to show that they
have "permanent" utility.

Danielle Cunniff Plumer, Ph.D., M.S.I.S.
Coordinator, Texas Heritage Digitization Initiative
Texas State Library and Archives Commission
512.463.5852 (phone) / 512.936.2306 (fax)
[log in to unmask]

+++Opinions expressed in this email are mine alone and do not
necessarily reflect the views of the Texas State Library and Archives
Commission, the Texas Heritage Digitization Initiative, or any other
organization+++