Just when I think I've read the last anti-cataloger statement, I run into another one. This time it's in an article found on the JSC's RDA website. While there's much good in Chris Oliver's article, Changing to RDA [PDF], some problematic rhetoric has slipped through. This time catalogers are accused of "looking at the record in isolation." In writing about FRBR's influence on RDA she states:
FRBR has illuminated the deep bones of the bibliographic record and has underlined the centrality of the user’s needs. It has changed the perspective of cataloguing from a cataloguer looking at the record in isolation to a user seeking the record within the context of a large database or catalogue.
I find this statement insulting. This is so far from what really goes on. I've said it before--catalogers (at least the good ones) are user-centered. We work within the context of the local library--its users and collections. We focus on users' needs as well as the larger bibliographic universe of OCLC WorldCat. Also, we work within the context of the arrangement of LC classification and LC subject headings in the local library. We are not "looking at the record in isolation." (Actually, one of the best argument against outsourcing is that the work is done outside of the local library context, but that's another post.)
Earlier in the article, Oliver says about RDA:
RDA focuses on users and the information they need. The guidelines are based on principles that guide, not rules that constrict. The goal is to facilitate the process of resource description by following a logical decision process. The standard is designed to be easy to use and to generate records that contain data that is relevant and important to users.
Aside from the fact that the last 3 RDA drafts are anything but "easy to use", we are told that we will be creating "records that contain data that is relevant and important to users." Sorry, but I think we're already doing that. Trying to "sell" RDA with such anti-cataloger/cataloging statements isn't going win over anyone. RDA may be a "radically different approach", but it's not when it comes to our central focus--the user.