I don't think of you as a doom and gloom person James. I understand your
concern. I also think that the library catalog and the people who catalog
in them play a part as defenders of truth and accuracy.

A few
years ago, an actor sued IMDb because they printed her real date of birth
as opposed to the "younger" one she distributes on resumes to
casting directors. She felt when her real age was revealed, her
opportunities dropped. The suit was dismissed, but IMDb had to spend the
time and money to defend itself. What if IMDb just caved? This probably
won't be the last time IMDb gets sued either.

I think the
important thing about the catalog (as it is used) is that it isn't a
commercial enterprise. I also think there is a lot to be said for subject
specialists who may debunk popular assumptions about information regarding
popular media such as films. If something is repeated often enough, it
will be regarded as truth, which will have been overwritten by popularity
as opposed to accuracy.

People don't seem to consult librarians
anymore because others have convinced them librarians are not needed. I
think it is our job as catalogers to take that argument back and defend
the academic and educational value of the catalog.

So, what
should the catalog do today? Keep the bullshitters honest.

Cindy Wolff

> I hesitate to bring this up
because most probably everybody already
> thinks of me as a
purveyor of doom and gloom, but I still believe that
> we must
consider these things in realistic terms. Although the attempt
is laudable, I still say that we must first of all see through the eyes
> of the users who would be interested in this kind of information.
> instance, if I am a regular user and I wanted to know the
> directed by John Huston, what would be the first thing I
would think of?
> "Google it". I am sure
almost everybody would. So I did a natural
> language search:
"what movies did john huston direct" and what happens?
https://www.google.it/search?q=what+movies+did+john+huston+direct (This
> is linked data in action!) We find that down below in the links
area (at
> least in the results I get), #1 is a link to John
Huston in Wikipedia,
> #2 goes to "Category:Films directed by
John Huston" also in Wikipedia,
> and #3 goes into his page
at the IMDB (which I personally prefer). All
> have lists of the
movies he directed. This is incredibly easy to do and
> free to
> Putting aside for the moment the linked data
result, the 3 links perform
> exactly the same function as in the
past when someone would ask a
> reference librarian, "I need
a list of the movies John Huston directed"
> and the
knowledgeable reference librarian would reply: "Here. You can
> find the list in this book." and would hand the user the
latest issue of
> this title http://lccn.loc.gov/sn99044419 (or
something similar) which
> was very possibly shelved in the
reference collection for quick and easy
> access.
> Therefore, just as the reference librarian would take the user's
> question and convert it into, "He needs to look in Film
directors : a
> complete guide", today a reference librarian
would do the same thing but
> answer/include, "He needs to
look in the IMDB". Without any doubt, that
> is the ethical
answer for such a question and will remain so for a long,
> long
time in the future.
> The huge difference is that
today, people rarely consult reference
> librarians. The librarian
would already know that if you want to find
> the films of
specific directors, the library catalog is currently not
> the
right place to look for this information and when viewed
realistically, it never will be the right place. There is nothing at
> wrong with that. Not every tool is good for every use, just
as if you
> want the latest business news or to find out why your
XML won't
> validate, the best place is not JSTOR, and it never
will be. That
> doesn't mean JSTOR is no good--it just means that
you have to look in
> other places for that kind of information.
Today, the correct place to
> look for the films people have
directed is the IMDB or perhaps a few
> other places on the web.
We are *really lucky* that we have such options
> for free today.
The reference librarians would be able to help the
> searcher in
these directions *if* they were asked, but sadly, that is
happening less and less.
> So, adding the relator codes
automatically will still demand manual
> cleanup, perhaps
(probably) on a massive scale, if it is ever to become
> as good
as IMDB is *right now*. I suggest that the correct method for a
library catalog is to lead the person to the *right resource* that he
> she wants and perhaps even do it *better* than Google. In
this case of
> film directors, I find it very difficult even to
imagine how we could do
> better than Google because the Google
search works so incredibly well.
> Perhaps a film librarian could
discover that the IMDB and Wikipedia are
> incorrect or
incomplete. In that respect perhaps library efforts could
> be
better focused on improving IMDB and Wikipedia than adding relator
> codes.
> There is also the option that the
library catalog could interact with
> the IMDB (and/or Wikipedia)
using the APIs.
> This opens up a highly pertinent
question for me: I don't even know what
> a library catalog is
supposed to provide in today's semi-total
> information
environment. This is a great example. We can't ignore these
wonderful sites. What should the catalog do today?
> --
James Weinheimer weinheimer.ji...@gmail.com
> First Thus
> First Thus Facebook Page
> Cooperative Cataloging
> http://sites.google.com/site/opencatalogingrules/
> Cataloging Matters Podcasts

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