Back in the old days (Feb. 2014, to be exact), I published a blog post entitled: “Wake Up Call for CC:DA”, written during an excruciating conversation at the tail end of a CC:DA meeting at Midwinter 2014. As part of that I recommended that CC:DA change its focus:

“What we need here is to change the conversation, and no group is more qualified to do that than CC:DA. To do that it’s absolutely necessary that its membership become more knowledgeable about what is now possible in automating metadata creation. Without that kind of awareness, it’s impossible to start thinking and discussing how to focus less of CC:DA’s efforts on that part of the cataloging process which should be done by machines, and more on what still needs humans to accomplish. There are several ways to do this. One is by dedicating some of CC:DA’s conference time to bringing in those folks who understand the technology issues to demonstrate, discuss, and collaborate.”

There were no comments to that post (not much of a surprise), but in the years since, change has been forced on CC:DA as a result of the RSC’s push to change RDA from the Anglo-American focus of the past to one more international and multilingual. This has changed CC:DA’s status from the 800 lb. gorilla whose discussions went directly into the ears of the RSC (then the JSC) to a cranky corner of the RDA peanut gallery. The Europeans, many of whom are actually using RDA, have taken center stage, leaving the Americans to cope (or not) with BibFrame (characterized by some across the pond as just another remnant of America’s colonial aspirations).

Like most change, that’s the bad news and the good news, depending on your point of view. Mine (again no surprise) is that this shift is the good news, or will be when the CC:DA community decides to make it so. IMO, the usual CC:DA conversation, most often focused on the ‘rules’, has resulted in keeping back the American discussions of what the future looks like for the metadata community. Europe is far ahead of us, having been relatively powerless to change the guidelines, and has instead been focused on learning more about the data models they need to know about to evaluate what they do now and how that needs to change. There has been far more experimentation and implementation in Europe than we’ve managed in the U.S. (the BF distraction is part of that) and as they have developed much more sophistication in their thinking.

So what should we do to change that? Some possibilities:

1. Start talking about what metadata should or could be for our present and future, whether creation, evaluation, distribution or improvement. Figure out what we know and don’t know and how we can learn what’s going on in the metadata world outside libraries and how we can apply that knowledge in libraries.

2. Set up a working group or committee to take that discussion and develop a curriculum for CC:DA with the intention of building up skills and understanding to spread around, within and beyond CC:DA, as well as throughout the cataloging community (which desperately needs leadership in this area).

3.Determine who within ALA and allied organizations can participate and assist, by preparing reading lists, developing and/or linking to existing materials, and leading discussions (both f2f and online). Eventually we’ll need to set up a variety of strategies for supporting and expanding these opportunities.

This is clearly not part of the current remit of CC:DA, and the budget does not yet exist for this kind of effort. Clearly there will need to be partnerships and allies for an effort like this, but we’re already behind, so let’s get started.

[I plan to make a proposal to CC:DA to start talking about this, so watch this space.]

By Diane Hillmann, December 7, 2017, 4:52 pm (UTC-5)

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  1. Comment by Jane Daniels

    Hi,
    Just wanted to say that many of the options that you list for moving forward are just as important for the UK .
    I’d like to see more collaboration between CILIP CIG & ALCTS so that we can all move forward and ensure that there is a skilled and dynamic workforce now and in the future.

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