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The Free Range Librarian recently had an interesting post about “Standards 2.0″ in librarianship. Obviously “2.0″ has become a catch-phrase for any forward-looking idea. I’m working on “Heather 2.0″ right now.
What is interesting in Schneider’s post – which ends up being kind of a manifesto and what we should be aiming for in the application of current standards and the development of future standards in librarianship (such as collaborative models and looking at standards as works in progress rather than ending points) – is that we have entered a gray zone where these issues are less and less clear cut. In large part this is due to the other 2.0 buzzwords. The OPAC of the future aims to be collaborative, integrative, and branch out to the larger world online. Standards don’t play very well with these goals. Particularly (notoriously) clunky library standards such as the AACR slam right into a brick wall when faced with collaborative and interactive models of information retrieval and display.
It will be interesting to see if RDA changes this environment at all (this is a good overview from Ariadne), but librarians are not known for being particularly flexible in this regard. Or any regard, really. The article mentions that RDA is about “simplicity”, but it’s also about other un-2.0 things like “structure” and “consistency”. On the other end of the opinion spectrum, RDA was also criticized for its lack of structure and standards by – surprise, surprise – Michael Gorman in the December 2007 issue of American Libraries. Gorman reacts to user-generated metadata and uncontrolled vocabulary as though it were the devil’s work, as though any catalog not ordained by Lubetzky and written in the stone that is the AACR2 will burst into flames imminently.
Maybe we could just leave the standards in their present form, call it AACR2.0 to make it sound like the future, and make everyone happy. In other words, implement the same cosmetic and meaningless changes that have hindered forward motion in librarianship for too long.