Conversations with Catalogers in the 21st Century

By Elaine R. Sanchez | Go to book overview

7    THE SINGLE SHARED CATALOG
REVISITED

Martha M. Yee

Ten years ago, I wrote a short piece in the ALCTS Newsletter called “One Catalog or No Catalog?”1 In it, I suggested that if we did not find a more efficient way of sharing the intellectual labor of authority control, we were in danger of losing our catalogs altogether. Ten years on, we can see two possible scenarios for creating a single shared catalog that we all cooperate in keeping under authority control. One is OCLC WorldCat; currently, OCLC is trying to persuade libraries to substitute OCLC access for local OPACs (Online Public Access Catalogs). The other is the nascent discussion in our field of the possibility of putting cataloging data onto the Semantic Web, connected with a new set of cataloging rules (RDA, Resource Description and Access) that claims to be RDF-ready (Resource Description Framework–ready).2

In this essay, I first review all the reasons why sharing a single catalog would be a good idea. Then I propose some specifications or “specs” for shared cataloging (and the resultant catalogs) in the future. Finally, I examine both OCLC WorldCat and the Semantic Web approach using RDA, enumerating the pros and cons of each approach for meeting the “specs.”


BENEFITS OF THE SINGLE CATALOG APPROACH

Cataloger Efficiencies

Catalogers would no longer have to put in the time necessary to keep thousands of completely separate catalogs under authority control, nor would they have to put in the time necessary to devise and manage complicated systems of record intake and outflow, record overlay, and the like, in thousands of

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