or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Keeping Up and Moving Ahead

   July 10th, 2008

Change Agent badgeBecause of two consecutive weekends hosting visitors, I've gotten way behind with emailing and reading blogs and computery things in general. Of the 174 feeds in my Bloglines account, the ones I've been most grateful for are those I can just click on to make not-new, without actually having to read.

But saying that, one blog post did stand out and demand attention. This was Tim at LibraryThing's proposal for a new open source cataloging classification system to replace Dewey.

I like the idea right off in principle, and I'm very happy that Tim has created a forum to get the ball rolling and get people talking about it.

In practicality, though, I don't know how well it'll work. It seems like the really great ideas are born of one person and their unwaivering drive and passion to accomplish it. I like the idea, but I am not sure if genesis-by-committee can be successful. Something like this (or Craig's List or Wikipedia or Linux) seems to need to be centralized and dictatorial in the beginning, and then opened to the public once it's proven and off and running.

But I hope it works. I'm going to be watching it, and I encourage everyone else to do the same - and contribute. I agree with Jessamyn in that, to get tools that are innately useful to libraries, they will have to come from librarians - everything else is just someone's product.

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2 Responses to “Keeping Up and Moving Ahead”

  1. walt crawford Says:

    One important correction. Tim’s not proposing an open source cataloging system. He’s proposing an open source classification system–a replacement for Dewey Decimal, not a replacement for RDA/AACR2. There’s a big difference.

  2. Brian Herzog Says:

    A very important difference – thanks Walt.