professional cataloging must adapt or die

You know it’s true. I’ve known Eli Jacobowitz since before he was born and now he’s a smartie techie type with a newish blog about technology and education. Though he admits “IANAL”, he has written a nice post about why cataloging both sucks and rules and talks about the future of cataloging in a world where there is much much more information than there is “trained professionals” to help people make sense of it. Ultimately, the answer lies in standards, and this librarians already know.

Eventually, robots might catalog for us. (Librarians shudder.) What we now know is just how far away that is – bot catalogers will need much better AI than currently exists. But in order for this project to even be possible, we have to make our data bot-readable. That means implementing some of the cataloging technologies invented and refined by librarians over the centuries.

We need to standardize meta-data format and content. Digital resources need not only meta-data but also meta-meta-data describing the standards they conform with. Catalog and search solutions need to read this information and pass it on when communicating with other systems.

LoC Authority files, yours to keep!

Tim made the announcement of the announcement (pdf), so I guess this is the announcement of that. Simon Spero, superhero, has released an almost-complete copy of the LoC authority files. You can just … have them. I have a copy. I like to grep through it for fun on snowy evenings (that is how my Nerve personal ad will start, I am certain of it). I am interested to see what happens next. You can’t copyright this data, but you can sell it. Now that it’s available for free, it will be interesting to see if you can even do that.

This phase of the project is dedicated to the men and women at the Library of Congress and outside, who have worked for the past 108 years to build these authorities, often in the face of technology seemingly designed to make the task as difficult as possible.

Baghdad Day to Day: Librarian’s Journal

The New York Times discusses the day to day activities of Saad Eskander, the director of Iraq’s National Library and Archive in Baghdad, as detailed on his blog at the British Library.

In mid-January, he published a chart on the impact of sectarian violence on his staff for just the month of December. It included 4 assassinations of employees and 2 kidnappings, 66 murders of staff members’ relatives, 58 death threats and 51 displacements.

The newest entries, posted on Thursday, take readers through Wednesday, Jan. 31. Dr. Eskander writes that the week started off quietly: Most of the staff couldn’t get to work because of blockades and military checkpoints.