Roll over Lubetzky! (originally posted 7-19-2010)

I’m finally finished (for this summer) teaching music cataloging. For the non-credit institute we created post-institute 20 “perfect” bibliographic records for scores and recordings, and for the for-credit course I created a “backlog” for the students to catalog that included eventually 21 “perfect” bibliographic records for scores, recordings, and videos. I think it’s safe to say I’m now officially very worried about the intensely silly detail required for even minimal cataloging. My how things have changed while I wasn’t looking!

As the header here says, Lubetzky would roll over in his grave (or perhaps I should have said my grandmother might have said that, had she known Lubetzky … never mind) to discover what has become of “Is this rule necessary?” Because, the answer most profoundly is “no, no, a thousand times no!”

It’s bad enough that we’re still transcribing title pages instead of using actual images (ummm, anyone noticed lately?), right down to contents notes instead of browsable pdfs. It’s bad enough, also, that we duplicate data from the AACR2 -dictated legible part of the record in the MARC21 encoded part of the record–one says “duplicate” with a grain of salt, because of course, the same thing is slightly different in each place. What’s up with 033 paired with 518? Why, if we gave up coding 047 and 048, are we still coding the fixed field “comp”? Why are we coding 041 for sung and closed-captioned languages and giving it in a note? But then logically we arrive at questions like why are we coding UPCs and ISMNs and ISBNs and on and on and on? When will these become automatic and not part of the cataloging process? Since I’m on a roll, let’s ask why we’re using $4 relator codes in headings?

In addition to making me crazy, it just makes me wonder which part of this is actually cataloging that should be considered professional work and taught in graduate schools, and which part ought to be fully automated?

The authority work, of course, is the knowledge organization component of cataloging, certainly of music cataloging, because it is this part where we establish relationships among performing ensembles and opera companies, for instance; it is this part where we establish uniform titles under composer headings for all of the instantiations of works; in both of these we are creating alphabetico-classed arrangements for the purpose of both collocation and disambiguation. That’s knowledge organization. This is the part Lubetzky would likely approve.

But all the rest–folks it’s 2010, enough already!

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