Monday, December 17, 2007

The Future of Bibliographic Control

I'm finally getting around to reading the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control's report, and it's really much more interesting than I was expecting. I am very much not a cataloger—one of my goals in getting into librarianship was getting away from a job that entailed sitting in front of a computer by myself doing repetitive work all day, and the arcane little details of MARC and AACR2 make my head spin—but I am invested in the idea of getting bibliographic data into a format that can be set free on the Web and used by Web services much more easily than MARC data. Hence my desire to dance when I got to Section 3, "Position Our Technology for the Future," which is all about moving away from the MARC-centric world towards something Webbier. The section on standards for doing this is exceptionally vague, unfortunately, but it's still nice to see that high-level people with power to make changes understand that this is the way that libraries need to be going with their data.

And then Section 4.1 just about knocked me off my chair. The working group is recommending not just opening up the library data to let people use it in Web applications outside the catalog, but actually letting user-generated information into the catalog! I've been on record as being in favor of this before, but I understand the controversy behind that position and I was surprised to see a blue-ribbon group like this recommend it so straightforwardly and universally. (Even I tend to say that this is likely to work better in some types of libraries than others!)

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