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Future trends in information organisation

Posted by arlekeno on September 20, 2012

It is always useful – and interesting – to try to look a little way into the future. If we can get our predictions right, then we are positioning ourselves well, and the organisations we work for, to cope effectively into the future.

You have already seen that this subject looks at a broad view of the world of information organisation. In Module 1, for example, you thought about the convergence of libraries, archives and museums in the digital environment, and examples have been used from different kinds of information centres throughout the subject. This convergence is one of the likely trends in the near future – in fact, it is already happening.  (ETL505, Module 7)

Reading Hider Chapter 15. Talks about how internet has changed catalogs (for the better) with the focus now on information, not physical location.

www.semanticweb.org  No idea about this really.

A future info bibliographic organisation or Resource access and description 😉 may be.

  1. Self-describing info resources – created with embedded tags for metadata
  2. More selective of use of cataloging and indexing expertise – Price pressures will mean catalogers only do a Core of books, and maintain the vocabulary and standards while the rest is done by creators or para-professionals/amateurs.
  3. A more complex network of information retrieval systems. – resources more than books, more than one location. requiring greater interoperability and cross institute co-operation.

Librarians will still be info-mediaries, but use different tools. (pg 314)

Ranganathan’s 5 laws of library science.

  1. Information is for use,
  2. To every user his information,
  3. To all information its user,
  4. Save the time of the user,
  5. An information centre is a growing organisation.

Hider (2008) lists major factors which will have significant impact on how information professionals organise knowledge in the near future. They include:

  • Change is always present
  • Doing more with less
  • The catalogue as gateway to global information sources
  • The Internet as the primary mechanism for networking information resources and services
  • Different kinds of information resources
  • Library professionals are collaborating with other information professionals to improve the organisation of knowledge
  • Auto-cataloguing and metadata
  • Users of library and information retrieval systems have a strong voice

Hider (2008) also notes (page 301) that:  

Even the terminology is changing. No longer do we talk about cataloguing, or even bibliographic organisation or bibliographic control: now it is resource description

… This term emphasises one important aspect of the present information/library reality – that we are primarily interested in resources, not only those in our own information centres but also those whose existence we want to bring to the attention of our users, no matter where these resources are located.

Why do you think that information professionals increasingly prefer to talk about resource description rather than cataloguing, about metadata rather than bibliographic data? Does it matter?

WE no longer only do books, so it makes more sense to talk about Resources. It doesn’t matter much, we still talk about records/albums, but this is more accurate.

Some of the major issues in contemporary bibliographic organisation are mentioned by Hider (2008) on pages 301-308. Which do you think is the most important issue for metadata specialists (or cataloguers) to address in the next few years?

Finding something that matches google, and setting a standard we can work too and user

Challenges
There are many issues, of course, which may impact on the future of information organisation. Two issues will be highlighted here: the ‘bibliographic chaos’ of the World Wide Web, and the very survival of cataloguers in a changing world.

Organising the internet

Given the centrality of the internet in the modern information world, one challenge that librarians and other information professionals certainly have is how to make the most of the millions of web resources now available. Often information seekers resort to ‘surfing’ the net. Just as the catalogue supplements library patrons’ browsing of physical shelves, so gateways and other bibliographic tools are needed to help users find the best web resources. Subject access to these resources is particularly challenging – we have already seen how keyword searching, even via sophisticated and powerful search engines, does not always produce satisfactory results.

Read pages 312-314 of the textbook, the section on the semantic web. In a way this parallels the old library vision of universal bibliographic control (see Module 6). The semantic web promises to be a much more proactive, intelligent type of network than what we search through at present; indeed, advocates argue that we are on the cusp of another information retrieval revolution. Even the most optimistic advocate, though, would admit that it’s not going to happen overnight.

For more on this concept, read an Introduction to the semantic web by Sean B. Palmer.

Will cataloguers survive?

Janet Swan Hill and Sheila S. Intner believe that the traditional skills of the library cataloguer in describing and analysing information resources, with the aims of providing access to them for users, will be critical as we move into knowledge management. They ask:
Who will provide knowledge management? Library catalogers probably know more about the processes for organising knowledge than anyone.
However, new skills and new ways of thinking will be needed to make the conversion from cataloguer to knowledge manager:
Organizing knowledge supposes being able to connect user queries and the contents of library materials … [and] In order to function as a knowledge management tool, the new catalog must be designed to identify and control knowledge itself, not the packages in which it is distributed. Janet Swan Hill & Sheila S. Intner (1999). ‘Preparing for a cataloging career: from cataloging to knowledge management’.
In a similar vein Webster states:
… librarians already catalogue images, maps, music and seminar presentations, so cataloguing people seems a logical next step … (Webster, M. (2007). The role of library in knowledge management. Knowledge management: social, cultural and theorethical perspectives. Ed. R. Rikowski. Oxford: Chandos publishing; 77-91.)
Michael Gorman (who was the original editor of AACR2) frequently comments on the place of cataloguing in today’s information universe. Gorman sees a natural continuation of the skills and expertise of the library cataloguer into the internet-dominated environment libraries are now part of. He asserts that:
… we librarians have the tools, experience, and the capability to preserve and organize recorded knowledge and information on a global scale, to realize the ideals of Universal Bibliographic Control … For cataloguers particularly, the future is challenging and bright. … Some have speculated that cataloguing and cataloguers may be obsolete – I firmly believe that the opposite is true and that cataloguers will have an increasingly important role to play in the future of libraries and of society. (Gorman, M. (1997). What is the future of cataloguing and cataloguers? 63rd IFLA General Conference – Conference Programme and Proceedings, August 31 – September 5, 1997.)

We will leave you to make up your own minds about whether Gorman’s view is likely to be correct, or not.

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