This summer has seen no shortage of interesting announcements in the library automation world. At first glance, things seem upside down in a library world where the Library of Congress can be accused of abandoning the profession, and internet behemoth Amazon.com announces that it will supply MARC records!
The many happenings at LC have been given plenty of digital and print ink, so I won’t belabor the debates here. In “The Changing Nature of the Catalog and Its Integration with Other Discovery Tools,” (pdf) Karen Calhoun makes several (and some radical) suggestions that are shaking things up. Combine that with the likelihood that LC’s Series Authority Record Division might be closing its doors forever (see the FAQs), and you have the have the makings for real library controversy (move over, Library 2.0).
More importantly, though, LC is doing something out of the ordinary. Isn’t that what we look for in library leadership? I agree with many parts of the Calhoun report; I disagree strongly with others. I would say the same of Thomas Mann’s criticism of the report (another pdf). I have no dog in the series authority fight, so I will stay out of that one, and leave it to the experts, like ALCTS.
As if things weren’t strange enough, Amazon has announced that it will make MARC records available to libraries that purchase through its site. In collaboration with TLC, Marcive, and OCLC, Amazon has introduced Library Processing for Corporate Account customers. The service includes more MARC records, Mylar covers, labels, and more. In conjunction with the proposals being made by LC, the term “shelf-ready” is cast in a new light. I only hope Amazon doesn’t run into authority problems when it sells monographic series!
Change might not always be good, but it’s almost always interesting. Someone once said to me (in a subtle but accusatory tone), “He who rocks the boat seldom has time to row it.” But I firmly believe that there is such a thing as rocking the boat forward.
[This post originally appeared as part of American Libraries’ Hectic Pace Blog and is archived here.]