Attending the 100th annual conference of German librarians in Berlin last week, I heard Barbara Tillett talk about RDA and VIAF and also got to go to sessions about the future of cataloging and on open source software in libraries.
One theme running through various talks was the idea of networked libraries, of cooperation at a larger scale. Until catalog data will (potentially) be put into the cloud, possibilities of how libraries could work together beyond the existing consortia and library networks are being explored.
Cataloging and authority work will become more global – how could VIAF with all its links be automatically embedded into library catalogs? As for the German-speaking library networks, aren’t there more ways in which cataloging could become more cooperative? For instance establishing a central pool for e-books metadata provided by publishers and others at the German National Library. Or pooling all records across all German library networks that describe the same “thing” and enriching the ones that lack classification or subject headings with this data (of course one can ask why each library network creates its own record to be held in its own database in the first place).
Cooperative projects like these move cataloging to a more networked level, yet they are only small steps towards a future infrastructure and band aids for the shortcomings of the current system. More effective coordination within the library community is a prerequisite for larger goals. We can be much better at avoiding duplication of efforts and leveraging synergies.