Wednesday, August 04, 2010

User Tasks

I'm in the middle of a much needed/much appreciated vacation at the moment, but had this thought when reading through work emails today. The cataloger sent anyone doing copy cataloging information on the new BIBCO standard record (BSR). In reading through the revisions to the record for textual monographs I noted a nod towards the FRBR user tasks - find identify, select, and obtain. At this point I'm almost a little blind to that phrase in that I tend to scan it over and make a mental check of "Yeah, they're aware". But how aware are we, as a community, of these tasks? Do we really understand what we mean and are we doing our best to create data and systems that support these tasks? I'm sure that there is a ton of good work out there that I will undoubtedly find when I start looking. Yet there is a part of me that is afraid that those four little words will soon become as ubiquitous, and useless, as so many other buzzwords before them.

It's a time like this when I wish I was more involved in the cataloging community. As a student who barely has the time at work to download and mod a couple of PCC JSTOR records, but who is continually filled with new ideas, I wish I had a realistic perspective of how the field is moving and changing. The same report also noted the speed at which cataloging is evolving and I wonder if that speed is part of the problem - we're in the middle so everything in either direction is a blur. Also cataloging is not as cohesive a concept as I tend to imagine it to be. My background in academic libraries who have the time and the funding to keep up with changes and innovations means that I sometimes forget that people just can't have the most outstanding records or need to buy vendor records because, in reality, they're much better than no records at all. As there is a digital divide, is there a cataloging divide as well? The Cataloging Chasm? And if so, how do we fix it?