Future of (Universal?) Bibliographic Control

I tossed in the universal part because that was the underlaying promise of over forty of years of work by the library community. In a sense what we have now is a result of that aim. From IBSD, MARC, AACR2, FRBR and the rest of the alphabet soup has been a soupcon of hope that one day we’d have the systems and standards which would lead to one record done internationally for any work. I was reminded of this when I heard Michael Gorman talk at the American Association of Law Libraries annual meeting in New Orleans this past week, which is another story on to itself.

Of course the world is complicated and we live in a Babel of a bibliographic (or now more precisely descriptive) universe. So for my part here is what I feel still needs to be done. There has been obviously, with the Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control, either an attempt at a search for next steps and a vision of how things should be (or as the cynics and skeptics see it an attempt for political cover with making some really difficult choices).

So my laundry list, or more possibly wish list which really concentrates on the bibliographic utilities (read: OCLC) since that is the pointy end of the spear that most catalogers do their work and where most of our data eventually ends up.

  • Authorizing national enhance editing on a larger scale. In a sense distributing more of the work into more hands. Wikis work with the wisdom of crowds. Records aren’t sacred, they are wrong and incomplete the barrier to fixing things should be minimal. Shouldn’t cataloging on a more expansive model work with the wisdom and experience of trained catalogers?
  • Lowering the bar to getting back enhanced records for use and reuse. Sure I see that services like OCLC’s PromptCat have been successful for a lot of libraries, but the I think the ongoing costs have been a bit to too much for some to swallow. This should be something that all our bibliographic systems should be taking advantage of. Along with this comes the thought that records don’t need to be perfect the first time they come in, but that tendency comes because its an expensive operation to go back. Going back and benefiting from the work that others do behind you in the processing stream needs to be cheaper, faster and easier.
  • There needs to be a better incentivisation of the entire record creation, enhancing and reconsumption process. Sure we’ve brought our vendors into the process, and obviously there is now pressure on publishers to push more out upstream. But seems like it has been difficult get library administrators, systems, catalogers all pulling in the same direction with this.
  • More training and implementation support throughout the library community. My sense of things has been that things worked OK so far. But we really need to be taking advantage of new ways to distribute training and support to everyone who wants it. This has to be cheaper and easier.

Is there an emerging consensus on the future and what to do to do with bib control? I don’t know.


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