This second in a series of â€˜hearingsâ€™ under the aegis of the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control occurred at ALA Headquarters in Chicago, in a large spare room that Keith Michael Fiels, ALA Executive Direction, quipped reflected the â€œopulence of the organization.â€ But there was juice, coffee, and high-end pastries, so few complained. The room was packed full (around a hundred, based on number of full chairs), with both locals and out-of-towners.
Deanna Marcum welcomed the group, introduced its task and expectations and mentioned the groupâ€™s website: http://www.loc.gov/bibliographic-future/. She mentioned LCâ€™s strategic planning process (38 working groupsâ€”whoa!), and in particular a report that is in process on the history of bibliographic control, from 2000 B.C. forward. She promised that this report would be made available when completed.
JosÃ©-Marie Griffiths emphasized that the group welcomes feedback from the community, and invited the participants to engage with the group on these issues.
Brian Schottlaender moderated the â€œBiblio-palooza.â€ He mentioned that the format had changed from the Oakland meeting in March, which he described as â€œmore of a talking heads meeting.â€ This was designed to be more interactive, with most of the afternoon devoted to open discussion. He expressed his hope that the ideas discussed would allow the WG to make their recommendations. He also mentioned that the non-discreet cameras at each side of the room were there for the purpose of recording audio and video for a cybercast to be made available by the Library of Congress. [Brian mentioned an article that I didnâ€™t get the cite for] which described the rapidly changing landscape and the new difficulties in creating order from this yeasty chaos. He then read the questions that the WG distributed for discussion at this meeting:
1. What kinds of structures and standards are needed to provide effective bibliographic control in the environmental spectrum spanning consumer uses and management uses? How can we make better use of current structures and standards in meeting both consumer and management user needs? What relevant communities need to have input and what organizational structures would best support this?
2. Libraries and related cultural heritage organizations have made a major investment in controlled data. These include structures for organizing subjects, personal and corporate names, place names, roles and relationships, time periods, etc. What role will these data play in networked environments? What is the relationship to the semantic web, tagging, or other newer approaches? How do these data work across database silos? How are supporting infrastructure pieces (gazetteers, controlled vocabularies, etc.) situated and maintained?
3. Data are created to be processed by applications. We mine data for meaning; merge and manipulate data for display; use data to support supply chains and inventory control; share data between repositories and discovery environments. Are our structures and standards appropriate to this reality?
4. What requirements are placed on our bibliographic structures through new application areas, such as mass digitization and greater off-site storage, or the desire to create richer user interfaces and integrated discovery environments?
5. Libraries now manage different flows of data, created within different regimes, much of it outside the library environment. They also want their data and services to appear in other environments. At the same time, we see more reuse and flow of data across publishers, libraries, agents, other bibliographic services, etc. What does this mean for our bibliographic structures and standards?
The first speaker was David Bade of the University of Chicago. David is a cataloger, and distributed to the group a written paper that he read almost word for word. The paper itself was 12 fully packed pages, followed by an appendix with â€œten examples of bibliographic records found in OCLC (before and after correction) [that] clearly demonstrate problems in the organizational infrastructure for creating and maintaining bibliographic information in an environment of different flows of data â€¦ ]. Further, â€œ â€¦ the theory of librarianship which informed the [Working Groupâ€™s] background paper is unmistakably a theory of industrial production, transportation and storage, in which meaning is â€˜minedâ€™ rather than created, and information flows and is merged and manipulated but never interpreted, evaluated or corrected.â€ [emphasis the authorâ€™s]
It goes on, a passionate rant from a frustrated intellectual, but sadly, its ideas were not effectively presented, and whatever germ of usefulness contained therein was tainted by the inability of the author to understand the realities of how technology has changed our environment. This was a deeply â€˜conservativeâ€™ (in the classic sense) screed, delivered by a rather improbable Don Quixote (in t-shirt and beret). But the windmill he tilts at is whirring madly, and he is unequal to the task of stopping it.
The second speaker is me, and since I have no ability to speak and blog at the same time, youâ€™ll have to wait for the cybercast or look at the slides.
The third speaker was Jane Greenberg on the faculty at the University of North Carolina. Jane started with a cartoon (helpfully labeled as â€œcomic reliefâ€) having to do with cats, boxes, and doing things outside said receptacles, then moved on to one where a grandmotherly type introduces a range of books to a child, saying â€œItâ€™s a library, honeyâ€”kind of an early version of the World Wide Web.â€
Jane described the standards landscape as she saw it, consisting of three silos: Data Structure Standards, Data Communication Standards, Data Value Standards. She discussed in general how these standards have developed and where they might fit together in the future.
She then attempted to address the specifics of the questions asked by the WG, by â€˜classifyingâ€™ them (which the audience appreciated). She suggested that we needed a broad range of standards and that context should determine the most appropriate ones to the task. She plugged the upcoming publication â€œKnitting the Semantic Webâ€ she edited for CCQ, as well as my NSDL Registry (thanks, Jane!) In attempting to discuss the â€˜continuumâ€™ where traditional bibliographic control meets social tagging, she showed a slide I couldnâ€™t see that well, but which illustrated this â€œontology continuumâ€™ as she called it. She closed with a set of her own questions (some more research questions than ones that could be answered immediately), expanding on the questions asked by the WG.
To be continued â€¦