Take a look at Roy Tenant’s column ("Doing Data Differently") in the latest Library Journal and tell me again that "anyone can catalog". No, sorry, they can’t. If they could, than everybody would be a cataloger. In my cataloging class at Queens College, we had maybe 45 people in the class, a few of whom did "well" (showing a real affinity for the work), some more who were "not bad" and the rest did so poorly that the class literally had to be dumbed down to the point where everyone could master the basic elements in time for the end of the semester. I took a metedata class with the same professor later that year where we had the same problem. People are generally bright, but cataloging is like machine coding or any other kind of intensive detail-oriented work–it’s not an intuitive skill. Certainly it can be taught but matering it takes time, patience and a lot of work. My point is that it’s not for everyone (but neither is reference work, so it goes both ways) –and the overal quality of metadata resources suffers if people don’t have the time or inclination (or imagination) to think about smarter ways of integrating existing data structures into existing access systems. It happens here, too–project deadlines loom and when all the smaller tasks for the week/month/quarter are completed, there’s less time and energy to think about how to improve our ILS at the macro level. Argh . . . reality . . .
Having said that, we’re hip deep in finishing up all the records we’re creating to send to OCLC in CatME because we found out through trial and error last week that MARC records can’t be swapped between CatME and Connexion. The work file database formats are different. So we’re going to do pretty much what the NYC William Hallock Park Memorial Public Health Library did earlier this year . . . code like crazy in CatME, finish the grey lit entries, and then empty out the work files by the switchover date (July 1, 2005 as I write this). Then, we’ll start up a new Connexion database and work from there. It’s probably not the best solution (actually, it’s certainly not the best solution) but it will work and it will make us pull less hair out of our heads than some of the alternatives.