“I’m beginning to be wearied by Library “school”. It seems to be so focused on history that real problems or solutions are never addressed.
An example is the current cataloging class I’m taking. We study ways to catalog and get point taken off for not finding some obscure reference number. Rather – I think there should be a discussion about why the existing Dewey assignment system (even Deweyweb) is tolerated when it looks to be a hierarchical decision tree which could be automated, i.e, fill in three to five pieces of information and have a system that automates delivery of correct numbers—or three alternative choices—you make the final selection. Having a system that routinely generates different answers because it is so manual and so cumbersome is just silly.
We are focused on learning to edit MARC records manually. No one discusses why MARC records are still used or what alternatives are available and how those alternatives work.
I just took a test where there was a 30 point question on the value of subject searching, yet with modern computing, multidisciplinary research, and lack of resources to pay to get subjects indexed, this seems silly. Maybe learning where it is actually better might be valuable, but focusing on it to the exclusion of keywords seems so historic to me to be ridiculous.
I have been volunteering at my county library for a year and here is what I’ve learned:
- The county has moved all its basic cataloging activity over to Baker & Taylor because it isn’t cost effective to do local cataloging. B&T must be doing some level of automated customization for libraries but I have to believe they are automating that process.
- MARC records create some of the worst data entry problems I’ve seen — single data elements like dates show up in three places in a record and all have to manually edited. Why aren’t people demanding better data entry overlays for MARC records that let data be entered once and then corrected across the record?
I get that libraries have not been a big enough market to drive much change but it does seems to me that much of this is caused by this historic focus and tolerance for things other professions would never tolerate. I think that there needs to be time focused on alternative and business savvy approaches. It would make for a much more sensible education than this almost exclusive focus on history.”
And I (Haycock) would add: has this place looked recently at what is being taught in (post-secondary) library technician programs and why libraries are replacing expensive professional librarians with them?