Monday, July 27, 2009

About the Cooperative Cataloging Wiki

The purpose of this blog is to provide information about the development of the Cooperative Cataloging Wiki.

First, why make the wiki?
With the difficult economic times we are experiencing, many libraries are facing serious financial problems and they will simply be unable to implement RDA due to the costs of subscribing to the online version of RDA, plus whatever retraining costs will be required. This will be on top of costs for changing computer systems and the necessary drop in productivity as people learn and become familiar with the new procedures. Other libraries will decide not to implement RDA for their own reasons. For those who decide, for whatever reason, not to implement RDA, they face the potential problem of following rules that will become obsolete. Without further development of AACR2, there is the fear that sooner or later adoption of RDA will be necessary anyway because those will be the only rules being updated. Therefore, it appears that libraries will have no choice.

The Cooperative Cataloging Wiki is designed to avoid this difficulty and provide libraries a genuine choice by allowing development of the cataloging rules in an open manner, similar to open projects such as Linux. (For an entertaining discussion of Open Source, you can see The cathedral and the bazaar by Eric Steven Raymond. There are different versions also)

Therefore, the wiki has information for all of the current cataloging manuals that are publicly available: all of the current Library of Congress Rule Interpretations are included in the wiki, there are links into the latest, consolidated International Standard for Bibliographic Description, plus links to the Canadian RIs, and other relevant documents. We have a number of concerned experts who are willing to lend some of their time and expertise to keep the rules current, plus you can participate as well, so that libraries will at least have a realistic option other than having to pay to implement RDA.

Another purpose of the wiki is to serve as common ground for developments in the greater metadata community. Therefore, there are links to the ONIX Best Practices, the Scholarly Works Application Profile, the AGRIS Application profile, among others. The common ground for these differing procedures will be found under the Conceptual Outline, which is based completely on ISBD (for the moment but based on wiki technology, this can change) and provides a separate page in the wiki for each bibliographical concept. The idea is to eventually bring together all the different rules for similar bibliographical concepts. For example, if you click on Title and Statement of Responsibility, you will see links into the relevant guidelines for ISBD and ONIX. If you continue into Title proper, you will see the relevant guidelines for more rules. Comments and attachments can be included here.

On this basis, metadata creators and developers can gain some understanding into the concepts and techniques used by others in similar fields. Perhaps some agreement can be reached and perhaps not, but without understanding, no agreement can ever be possible. A lot of work remains to be done in this area and it should be interesting to observe how it develops.

Still, this will remain a separate part and if someone wants to go straight into the LCRIs and get a specific answer, they will be able to do so without going through unrelated information, e.g. Library of Congress Rule Interpretations and the ISBD Outline.

This project actually has been created with great reluctance. We appreciate the tremendous efforts and knowledge on the part of our colleagues who have dedicated themselves to create RDA, but certain realities have intervened. Many libraries simply cannot implement RDA, and the practical advantages of RDA implemention have yet to be demonstrated.

A project such as this is obviously beyond a single person's abilities and the key is to rely on the participation of you: the cataloging community. Please help us and get involved.