You say RDA and I say no way.

In my last face to face class at USF, part of the class gave a presentation on RDA (Resource Description and Access). RDA is going to be a new format for librarians to catalog more different types of information in different formats. This is going to replace AACR2 (Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules 2). To compare the two would be if you had a regular dvd and had to convert to blu ray dvd. The old dvd is fine for many people to use but blu ray offers more bells and whistles.

Back in 1997, RDA came about the need to revise AACR2. Originally, the revision was to be AACR3 but RDA was adopted because something new had to be created for future digital cataloging demands. Expanding AACR was not going to cut the mustard, (and why you would need to do that is still beyond me.) Regardless of the pros and cons of RDA, the question remains, why can’t patrons find information using our catalog computer? There is no reason for this day and age for the library to still be working with a card catalog mindset. For those who are old enough to remember, before the age of computers and dinosaurs, yes that’s right I said before computers, libraries had small index cards which catalogued the entire collection. There were three ways to find something in the library collection: by title, by author, and by subject. Hopefully, one of the three holy Trinity’s you found the right card, then you would see the location number, make sense of it and go through the stacks to find it. Then with the computers help, this same information was basically entered in the same way to make the electronic version of the card catalog. Limited but that is how we find information and we librarians are the point person, the go between the stacks and the patrons. As there are still demand for librarians to fill this gap, the real world demands can not afford them. As property tax collection goes on the incline, many libraries are forced to layoff staff and close down branches to run a smaller budget. RDA will be more costly run in the very near future to many already strapped library budgets.

Going back to the presentation during my class, I raised my hand up to ask a question about RDA. Since the group mentioned that RDA was for librarians, I questioned why spend the money on something that is not going to help the end-user – the patron – to find information better? My thought on this matter is great, we have a new toy called RDA and only librarians get to play with it. If you are now able to catalog more items for this every increasing digital world, I think that’s super. But other than aquabrowser which displays information by relevance, what else is out there? In my opinion, why can’t there be a simple interface like Google or Bing or many other search engines and be able to look up information? There needs to be a better overlay interface which does not have to re-invent the wheel nor cost an arm and a leg. I’m not saying this is to replace the need of having a librarian but this would help with the work flow on a day to day basis.  I feel the higher-ups who decided on RDA may be leaving behind a legacy that may make libraries totally irrelevant tomorrow. I don’t want to be irrelevant.


~ by The Monster on October 10, 2012.

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