Saturday, June 23, 2007

Inaccessibility of Library Data

Karen Schneider's recent post to the ALA Tech Source blog "Out of the Secret Garden: The RDA/DC Initiative" is very insightful and passionate. She argues that our gazillions of library records cannot be integrated with cool web 2.0 tools because the data is not readable and it's our own fault because we insisted on keeping our old fashioned library-specific data based on our arcane cataloging rules.

I always thought that AACR2 rules were quite crazy but I also thought that they had evolved with careful thinking and a wondrous intellectual process that allowed library data to be shared across institutions. Our problem now as a library profession is that it is imperative to migrate our data to the 'Semantic Web' not only using natural language, but also using a format that can be read and used by software agents. (See Aaron Swartz' article for a better understanding of the Semantic Web.)

This is basically why is beating us at our own game. We desperately need our catalogers to understand and deal with this complex issue so that our library records do not become extinct.

Judy Gressel

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