Schneider pens an Open Letter to the LOC 2

This rocks my world. I want all of my students to read this and ponder not only the future of books and description but the future of libraries.

It is both ironic and poignant that librarians are still worrying about “bibliographic control,” after ceding so much of the same to the companies that now rent them journal access per annum at usurious rates, digitize their book collections into DRM obscurity, or sell them ponderous, antiquated “management” systems that on close inspection do little more than serve as storehouses for the metadata specific to the formats of bygone eras, bold days when we saw our central roles as defenders and curators of our cultural heritage.


We do need a train–a clue-train. The paper-based book is already a metaphor; books are now born in digital format. The New York Times on my breakfast table is heaving its death rattle, if I listen closely enough. Looking ahead ten, twenty, fifty years, do any of us believe that the issues of access and description will not be driven overwhelmingly by issues related to digital content—some of it in fantastical, ever-mutating new forms (q.v. the networked book forms such as those proposed by The Institute for the Future of the Book)?

2 thoughts on “Schneider pens an Open Letter to the LOC

  • Nathan


    Hello. Its Nathan the College of St. Kate’s student who emailed you that editorial about the Lawrence (KS) Public Library a few months back.

    I wrote to Karen on her blog the following:

    (I would like to see what you think about these points as well, but I can’t check your blog again until Monday)!

    I am wondering if you have read Thomas Mann’s article, “The importance of books, free access, and libraries as places – and the dangerous inadequacy of the information science paradigm”.

    Of course, its not free access. 🙂 You can get it via EBSCO’s databases though, for example.

    Mann, addresses many of your points, and, I think rather convincingly, argues that this kind of paradigm that you are working from has many, many problems.

    In particular, he points out that the train / railroad analogy (train business vs transportation) is really quite misleading.

    There is so much more to say but Mann does a masterful job of dealing with these issues so I’ll let him do it. In regards to bibliographic control in particular, I would argue that its not nearly as irrelevant as you make it out to be.

    See this, for example:

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