Date: Mon, 4 Apr 1994 21:00:22 -0700


Subject: You may find this of interest

From the Chaucernet: In case you've missed the good old card catalog:

Status: R


Date: Mon, 04 Apr 1994 09:40:18 -0500 (CDT)

From: "Paul E. Szarmach" pszarmac[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

[double-posted: ANSAX-L and CHAUCERNET]

If you like books, and especially if you like card catalogs, make

the effort to get a hold of the April 4 issue of The New Yorker and

Nicholson Baker's article "Discards," which begins on p. 64 and saunters

through many fine pages to p. 86. It is astonishing to read how the

technological revolution has dislocated the enterprise. We all know that

the machine is dumb, and so cannot distinguish between the Blessed Virgin

Mary and one alleged songbird Ms. Ciccone, who both appear on-line as

"Madonna." Baker gives example of such confusions: OCLC has had to purge some

600,000 records, and is still cleaning, to fix such messes up. Baker does not kn

ow of one of my faves: the daring and resourceful OEN bibliographer, one

C.T. Berkhout of Tucson [and El Alamein], appears in Bingo's ELIXIR under

two headings, one indicating that he was born in 1914 and another in 1944.

How delicious: the future might argue that in fact there were two Berkhouts, per

e et fils, who produced all that fine scholarship--and here I, all these

fifteen years and more, have been living in a delusion!

Even more remarkable is Baker's account of how OCLC was put together.

Libraries, if they chose to participate in sending in online entries, would

get "credits" towards the acquisition of entries produced by other libraries.

And so Wright State (and others too) flooded OCLC with quick and shoddy

records so as to accumulate goodies. The sytem is still trying to recover

from a lack of quality control.

In the whole process such notions as a "subject" entry become unusable

and unwieldy, but more depressing is the discovery that on the average libraries

are spending some 30% of their budgets for technology. It aint't them foreign

journal publishers alone who done us wrong. There are librarians who do not

like books! "To serve you better" has now become a threat!

Read 'em and weep.