More of what I learned at ALA MidWinter…

So at ALA MidWinter, I saw a presentation by the guy who started the “Typo of the day for librarians” posted to AUTOCAT and a few other places.

I was a bit abashed that I didn’t realize the significance of sending the typo of the day out over AUTOCAT.  I just thought it was just a notification of yet another way that human data entry is not ideal, but can sometimes be amusing…

It’s so you can check and fix the typo in your catalogue.

Huh.  How come that didn’t occur to me previously!?

Though the other really cool thing that he pointed out was the idea that by fixing that typo in your catalogue on that day, you’re joining in a shared activity with other librarians around the world.

It’s also a way to spend just a little bit of time improving your catalogue each day (if you can spare a little time).

Which brings me around to something else that was discussed at ALA MidWinter.

“Do we have enough time to switch our systems over to linked data?”

This question was posed in the preconference session I went to, and though not directly discussed in any other sessions I attended, the theme seemed to be there in the background throughout.

The short answer, I think, is yes.  Creating an RDA record doesn’t take that much longer than creating a “normal” MARC record, according to those in the know.  Although, according to the preconference, RDA might just be a step in our evolution leading to RDF and URIs, or some other incarnation of linked data.

A lot of people at the conference, and one in particular in the preconference session, were really scared that RDA and moving forward toward a linked data world would mean putting on a extra task that would become the straw that breaks the camel’s back.  Librarians are at a point they’re feeling stretched too thin (budget cuts, staff cuts, etc), and one in particular commented that it’s hard to think about the future of libraries when you’re not sure if you’ll have a job next week (just ask people at Harvard).  Librarians want

I do believe that RDA and RDF/URIs (LINKED DATA) will actually make our lives easier and cause us less work/stress in the long term.  Once linked data gets a good foothold, I think cataloguing will actually become easier and faster.  The folks at Ex Libris talk about an ILS in which the authorized forms are brought to you, rather than you having to leave your record to go search for an authorized form.

It’s just a matter of convincing “everyone else” and getting buy in.

Oh, and we actually need an ILS that can handle RDA and RDF.  I saw hints of those systems at MidWinter.  I’m hoping to see even more at Annual in June.