I just finished reading a new friend harpskord’s blog entry on he/she love for cataloging (I can’t tell if harpskord is a he or she. sorry ). I have to say; the 1xx’s, 5xx and 700 fields are indeed dangerous areas of the MARC record if you were going to catalog a person. But, I think the 600 or subject headings are just as if not more dangerous. If you recall, the tail of Sanford Berman, the arguably zealot cataloger who helped radically re-edit the LC Subject Headings; he is probably considered to be a cross between an English grammatical samuri and a subject heading romantic.
This guy is pretty much the closes thing to the Guy Fawkes of cataloging librarians. In other words, he is the type of maverick librarian that stands his ground and makes distinct interpretation on what he believes in. With librarianship, for example, he is synonymous with challenging the Library of Congress to systematically either delete or edit various subject headings for their insensitive nature.
In his book,
Prejudices and Antipathies: a Tract on the LC Subject Heads Concerning People, Berman discusses racism, sexism, Christocentrism, and other biases inherent in the LCSH. Berman is also known for his role in encouraging the Library of Congress to drop such archaic headings as “Colored” in favor of “Black “or “African American.” Would I say Berman was an extremist? Four years ago I would say yes. However,now I think if anything, Berman verified that cataloging is indeed an art form and possible a cousin English Creative Writing with regard to controlled vocabulary. So, why the history lesson Metamind?
We are supposed to learn from history. At the same, time, history often predicts the future. Furthermore , historian like to draw correlations between the past, present, and future. In this case, the correlation here is cataloging and social media. Specifically social tagging.
I predict that social media is making us all catalogers. I know I am jumping to a conclusion. But, lets look at some basic facts. When you create an social media identity using say Facebook , you are providing information for fields that classify and make yourself unique amongst a large populous of strangers, friends and even ourselves. However, the difference is, political correctness that Berman augured for in terms of Subject headings gets tossed out the window because “We The People” determines the ethical limits of the vocabulary used in these mediums for description.
I can associate names like “Twilight” with “ Vampire Buffoonery” or “Superman” with “wimp”. All of this can be done on Facebook or of course, in Tumblr. The result is that this is my own vocabulary. So, what is your point Metamind before I go to sleep? My point(s) are two.
First, catalogers or in reality Metadata technicians (librarians, multimedia producers, ..etc) should be regarded as artist. ( Stop looking at the photo of Abraham Lincoln chasing that dude from the movie Twilight.) They are charged with making items searchable in imaginative ways in order to reach a wide-ranging audience. Musicians want to reach everybody by sharing their talents and not sacrificing their own creative authenticity.
Second, quite frankly, we all as human beings are cataloging things everyday regardless of whether we know it or not. In simpler terms, we are all opinionated. An abrupt ending……….