Friday, January 11, 2008

ALA Friday "Big Heads"

Big heads meeting

(For those who don't know, this is the "heads of technical service departments of large libraries" meeting that takes place each year and is an update on all things tech services.)

RDA update - John Attig

1. Collaboration of RDA developers and dc to define element set and vocabularies. working group has been set up. We now have startup funding. There is a meetng tomorrow to formulate a startup plan

2. Gordon Dunsire is doing an element set for FRBR with IFLA support, using the NSDL vocabularies registry.

3. There is a vendor for development set (Cognolore?). JSC is also working with ALA publishing: Nannette Naught will be consultant for the standards software. The first component is authoring system. They will soon load current version of all of the text and will use this to maintain text.

4. Work is also beginning on RDA online product. It's not live yet. A new prototype will be created between now and annual, and we will be able to see it there.

Content development:

JSC met for a week in Chicago. There is now a new reorganization of RDA content. This has a better relationship and better alignment with FRBR, and is less constrained by present implementations.

There was before a primary division between bibliographic and authority work. Now it has all of the FRBR group elements together, including subjects (Group 3). Subjects will have a place in the document, but won't be filled in initially.

They are aiming at a Relational/Object-oriented scheme in which description of each entity exists as an object within the data structure and relationships are shown between them with URIs. this is not supported by our current systems or by MARC -- this is the future. There is less emphasis on controlling the form of textual entities and more on describing attributes.

Some drafts are still out for review and will have to be reconciled in this new structure. The committee is still working on specific comments on chapters that have been reviewed. They still need to do appendices and examples. They will meet for two weeks in April.

The draft of the general introduction will be discussed at the April meeting. They expect to have a complete draft in July for public review.


National libraries associated with the JSC are committed to coordinated implementation of RDA. The Program for Cooperative Cataloging is looking at rule interpretations and any needs for implementation guidelines. An ALCTS task force has been formed to look at implementation of RDA and will report out at ALA Annual.

There is a report to MARBI this conference outlining an initial implementation in MARC21. There are signfiicant differences in the granualrity of data elementss and we need to figure out how much to align them.

We also need to begin work on a new carrier to suceed MARC.


Bob Wolven (WG member)

It is hoped that this session will mainly be dedicated to discussion.

Some background: over last 6 weeks, after putting out the final draft for comment, the group got 150 pages of comments. Some contradict each other. Many resulted in revision of text to clarify meaning in the report.

Areas of comment: clarification of meaning of particular sections, which they did. There was also a desire to be more specific about the 'how'. That wasn't for group to do, and in any case there was not time for that kind of analysis. As an example, the call for a new carrier – this is not easy to do and this wasn't the right group. but hopefully more energy will be put to it.encouraging discussion, in groups like this.

People also wanted to know exactly WHO would do certain tasks. Many Cannot be delegated to a specific group; everyone needs to work on it. Also, some changes will not controlled by libraries, but involve more participants.

Chris Cole, NAL (working group member)

This is not just a report to LC; recommendations are to many groups and to the community. In terms of the new carrier: we have to recognize that the primary users of data are/will be machines, so standards development done by people for people is not necessarily suited to this environment. There is an engineering component. We need real solid testing; not just philosophical agreement on the standard, but will it work?

Also, the realization of economic dependencies. We all are strapped - and that includes LC. We need to make decisions based on this reality.

The process: this was an outcome of the serials control decision mess. LC made lemonade out of lemons. LC stepped back to take a bigger look. The working group represents wide range of interests. Chris is part of indexing industry; Bob represents PCC. There were also representatives from Google and Microsoft. Note that we reached more than consensus; it was more like unanimity -- there is not a minority report.


Q: What does carrier mean?

A: It means that we cannot modify MARC to be our future bibliographic record; we have to create something substantially different.

Q: What were comments?

A: The recommendation on RDA got the most comments. There were many comments about the statement that LC is not the national library. Also a considerable number of comments on the economics. Another set of comments was on "we're already doing that."

(added by Karen Coyle: there was a web site that gathered signatures asking for library data to be open, started by non-librarians. This shows that there are people outside of the library world who are interested in using library data.)

Q: There is also a similar economics question for RDA: ALA needs revenue from this process to fund it.

A: We need someone who knows economics to take a good look at this. Also, economics of standards development and maintenance hasn't been worked out. This is complex, and in the end we need to find ways to reduce costs.

Chris: more players than libraries and LC: OCLC, publishers, vendors who sell metadata.

Comment: The proposed work with Dublin Core pulls out the structure of a possible carrier, so this won't be part of RDA economic model.

Comment (UCLA): We shouldn't spend time perfecting FRBR.

Comment (Yale): RE: special collections and manuscripts – This was a good section, and we would have liked to have seen it go farther. There are large hidden collections, some printed (pamphlets). This is a cultural issue. We want to see more on priorities for LC and for all of us. E.g. LC provides expertise on non-western materials.

LC (Beacher): The is an LC internal group on the nature of bibliographic control at LC – it will now take on this report, analyze it and comment.

- The Bibliographic access group (beacher's) will look at the report

- public services area will react.

The last two will come together to report to Deanna and the five directors who report to her. By ala annual they should have a plan of action to share. The Library is pledging that each recommendation will be addressed and will get a statement and reaction to explain why it is accepted or not accepted by LC and how it will be carried out. Some are immediate, some are already underway, some will be longer term. LC has not done a good job of sharing with the community what it has been doing, and there are many projects underway. They don't have a timetable today. Mid-spring is the target for the first LC response, and they will have something to discuss at Annual.

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