We can limit our discussions to the technological aspects of wholesale changes to cataloging and even acknowledge the costs and difficulties of making changes, but I think we unwisely limit our conversations if we don’t start to address openly the issues of control and ownership when it comes to our bibliographic universe.

In a previous squib, I talked about ALA Publishing’s ownership (no quotes) of RDA and its impact but the issue is bigger than that. Look at Diane Hillmann’s April 9th squib talking about, among other things, the process behind RDA. She says, “Can we finally look at what worked and didn’t with the RDA development process, at what the tools available to us provide to meet our needs for broad participation and quality control, and design something that makes more sense? We cannot just keep maintaining the powdered wigs and the formal dancing in the face of the revolution happening outside our gates.”

Think, too about the request (order?) from LC for Ed Summers to take down lcsh.info and LC’s claim that they will do it so the rest of us don’t really have to try to improve the US government info that is LCSH — LC’s reliance on the regulation that allowed them to charge 10% above cost for cards as permission to exercise intellectual property ownership over their cataloging output. Karen Coyle helps to make this clear here.

Then there’s OCLC’s continuing attempts to express ownership of the bibliographic data created and shared by many public (and private) institutions.

We have a problem, folks. Technology is not the only thing holding us back. A failure to commit to treating our standards as commonly owned and developed tools has a role, too.