Tuesday, June 17, 2008

SLA Day #1

Just when one thought that bibliographic control has changed, it might change some more. On Day 1 of SLA in Seattle, I went to a fascinating session given by Jose-Marie Griffiths, called On the Record: Report of the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control offered a fascinating multifaceted glimpse into the current situation of bibliographic control and cataloguing. What is intriguing about this working group is the fact that it comprises both the library world and the private sector. Led by a tri-membership of Google, the American Library Association, and the Library of Congress, the working group created a recommendation document which proposed five general recommendations: 1) increasing efficiency; 2) enhancing access; 3) positioning technology; 4) positioning the community for the future; and 5) strengthening the profession.

What is controversial about the proposal is the suspension of the Resource and Description Access (RDA). Not only does the working group believe that the RDA is too confusing and difficult to implement, it also requires much more testing. The report also proposes for a more continue education in bibliographic control for professionals and students alike. By designing an LIS curriculum and building an evidence base for LIS research can the profession be strengthened for the future.

Although the session had a fairly spare audience, I found this session to be highly engaging and perhaps even ominous for the future of librarianship. Because the Library of Congress accepted the report with support (although unofficially), this could mean a schism in progress of RDA, which is viewed as the successor of the AACR2. Also, the fact that this working group included the non-library world (i.e. Google and Microsoft), the future of bibliographic control won't be limited to librarians. Rather, it will involve input from the private sector, including publishers, search firms, and the corporate world. Is this a good thing? Time will tell. For better or for worse.

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