Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Emerging Cataloging Future, RDA, DCMI and the Semantic Web

The future of cataloging is taking shape, and the shape of things to come is being influenced by the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative and the Semantic Web Community. What are the implications of the inclusion of these new “players” in the RDA process? What will be the effect on cataloging and the work of catalogers? Are catalogers ready to participate fully in this emerging new world? Presented by the MLA Technical Services Section.

Speaker: Diane L. Hillmann, Research Librarian, Cornell University Library

Dublin Core Metadata Initiative DCMI

Semantic Web Community

RDA: Resource Description and Access

I’d like to begin by saying that a lot of this is fairly new to me. Though I have read about some of this terminology, I have never applied it. What is exciting however, like several of the talks at the pre-conference is doing old things in new ways in a less proprietary manner with more local control. The world of bibliographic control I think has become stale and I think we have to try to get away from that awful word “control” and move to more cooperative approaches. My work as a cataloger, which I do pretty much full time is not always useful and transferable to my work at the reference desk. That could be because I don’t spend a lot of time on the reference desk or I have a terrible memory for LC subject headings or maybe it’s because the old catalog is stale. Well, I look forward to new things that may or may not happen before I retire from the library field. (these are the bloggers words)

Now to the talk. “I still think in MARC,” comments Diane. She goes on to say that time has moved on and that we are in the midst of exciting ferment with opportunities to manage change. The

Diane began cranking away at software developers 3 years ago She says she was a complainer but now is focused on building the technical infrastructure that RDA didn’t have.

What RDA is and isn’t. It isn’t linear. What is its starting point? It is in the last stages of development. Final full draft due in August and will be “published” in early 2009. Last summer DCMI folks joined with Semantic Web Community to move ahead with these semantics.

DCMI is in partnership with RDA to develop vocabularies.

Where are we going? RDA will be used to support the creation of FRBR based records and will be available to support catalogers and applications. Specialized communities will be building application profiles.

The journey is a series of maps. Envisioning new descriptive structures, supporting libraries and other communities of practice and “building in” support for future development and extension.

RDA is the successor to AACR2. RDVocabularies is the tool.

RDA development began with AACR3. AACR3 then was reorganized as RDA (FRBR). Invisible still RDA became explicitly FRBR/FRAR and no longer tied explicitly to MARC

The new RDA is a FRBR based approach to structuring bibliographic data, more explicitly machine-friendly linkages (preferably with URIs, Uniform Resource Identifiers), with a greater emphasis on relationship and roles, less reliance on cataloger created notes and text strings (particularly for identification)

Diane demonstrated a rather lengthy example of creating a RDA record with the DCMI approach. It will be posted elsewhere on the MLA Conference Website at a later date.

LC hopefully will be using vocabularies developed by DCMI. Rather than being managed centrally by one entity, management of vocabularies will be parsed out to entities (institutions, databases) that can better manage the information.

Is FRBR (around since 1998) the only model here? DCMI abstract model is a Dublin Core view of the world. URI relates out to other descriptions. Cataloging is moving to more related descriptions – i.e. a view of geo-referenced data. Traditionally catalogers transcribed information. The descriptors will reference the sources of information, i.e. Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names. It is importance that we work together to maintain databases and not create a lot of local data. Everybody will be taking responsibility and central database will be more forgiving.

ILSs have not been developing software for these models. They are waiting for this to be published. This will be open source and available without copyright.

Don’t we already do vocabularies? Our traditional vocabularies use text strings as identifiers. Numbers are used only for internal or intra-community transactions. Semantic Web uses vocabularies much more rigorously. NSTL is a vocabulary registry – Try out our sandbox – make up a vocabulary, play and see what other people have done.

Paper will be on the MLA conference website

Check out these application profiles:
Collections Application Profile

The implications are an end to the closed library community, a different approach to standards and a library community that is more engaged with the web and not just talking to each other (other libraries are librarians)

Doris Madsen, Springfield City Library

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