Date: Mon, 4 Apr 1994 21:00:22 -0700
From: Rudy Troike RTROIKE[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ARIZVMS.BITNET
Subject: You may find this of interest
From the Chaucernet: In case you've missed the good old card catalog:
To: IN%"CHAUCER%UICVM.BITNET[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ARIZVM1.ccit.arizona.edu"
Date: Mon, 04 Apr 1994 09:40:18 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Paul E. Szarmach" pszarmac[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]math.ias.edu
[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.