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I couldn’t resist the drama of this title of an article published on insidehighered.com. The “maelstrom” in this case refers to a possible conflict of interest between a new OCLC policy that sets to place a notice of WorldCat terms and conditions in each record and the libraries that created said records in the first place. The contention is that such conditions could potentially threaten the free use of records for purposes such as print-on-demand services and individual library revenue sources.
The online bibliographic world is turning increasingly open source with entities such as OpenLibrary. The idea of metadata ownership is therefore increasingly anathema to a community that believes that information wants to be free. For OCLC to place stipulations on the use of WorldCat records is to claim a sort of ownership to the records themselves. The indignation expressed in comments to the article highlight the conflict of OCLC’s business model and the mission of libraries to disseminate information openly and freely – as well as the fact that it was individual libraries that created the records in the first place. As Glenn Bunton, Head of Systems Development at Old Dominion University Libraries notes, “In the end, the heart of the issue lies in the conflict between a commercial, economically driven organization (OCLC) and non-commercial, service driven organizations (libraries).” Though we tend to think of OCLC as an indispensable and altruistic partner in our noble information dissemination efforts, issues such as these make it clear that’s not quite the case.
I am excited by some recent discussion on the VRA discussion list on a topic near and dear to my heart – next generation OPACs that integrate artworks with bibliographic records by utilizing crossworks between existing standards (LCSH and the AAT, e.g.) and creating unique identifiers for artworks (a problem that seems more insurmountable than it should be). I have followed with great interest the technologies and innovations that may be making this integration closer to a reality.
The Getty Institute has always been at the forefront of this effort. From the Getty Vocabularies to the Art and Architecture Thesaurus and the Union List of Artists Names, they are the art cataloging equivalent of the Library of Congress when it comes to the rules of standardization. There is no doubt that these two entities should work together in the efforts towards universal standards for art collections and libraries. I dream of the day when an OPAC is a friendly, searchable receptacle that holds all varieties of formats and materials and designates their relationships.
The Getty is currently working on a project known as CONA (Cultural Objects Name Authority) which in theory is similar to the LC authority files. According to the website, CONA will create authority records for cultural works found in literature, visual resource collections, archives, and libraries. These will be “unique physical works” (i.e. not music, dramatic works, film, or works of literature). This type of record would help set the groundwork for standardized cataloging of artwork and effective crosswalks between cultural resources and bibliographic records. Exciting.
I got an interview at the University of New Mexico! Fingers crossed, because that’s the job I think I want. I’m driving down there next week.
In the meantime, I’ve been meandering all around Santa Fe and enjoying my internships. At the IAIA today I did quite a bit of research into Digital Asset Management/Image cataloging systems because I realized that ImageAXS is no longer a hosted software and is not available for updates. Some likely contenders: on the cheap end – FileMaker Pro or Microsoft’s iview Media Pro, or cost-prohibitive systems like Extensis Portfolio or Luna Insight. My recommendation was to go with FileMaker since they already have ARTstor for classroom/image presentation use and just want a way to store the images with accompanying metadata. FileMaker now works as a relational database and is highly recommended on VRA-L. I think Jenni is going to look into the pricing and talk to the library director this week about setting up the new system. The question now is whether I will begin creating the metadata in another place, such as a spreadsheet, to migrate into the new system or just wait until it is in place. I think I will need to research the metadata importing/exporting functions of FileMaker Pro. Thank goodness for the VRA-L archives! There is some great information there, and it is the most user-friendly discussion list archive interface I have ever used.