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SAA 2007 Session Proposal: The Changing Nature of Description and OPACs

During the Description Section meeting at this year's SAA conference, I made an informal proposal for a session concerning the changing nature of OPACs, changes in the library cataloging world, and the impact of those on descriptive practice in archives and manuscript repositories. I'd like to invite any of you, if you're interested, to let me know if you'd be interested in assisting me with putting together a proposal on this topic.

A small group of us met briefly after the Description Section meeting and discussed the possible formats and areas of discussion. We determined that a seminar-style discussion seemed most appropriate, with perhaps a brief presentation on a specific area presented by the panelists on a given aspect of these issues. Possible areas for presentation and discussion include:

  • The changing nature of the OPAC in the library world: open-source, problems with vendors, adding Web 2.0-like features (the "next generation of finding aids" session at this year's conference included good examples of this)
  • The impact of changes at LC and the OCLC/RLG merger: LC's decision to end creating series authority records, rumors of abandoning LCSH, decreased importance of cataloging in general to LC administrators, the future of NUCMC and ArchiveGrid
  • The impact of Meissner and Greene's "more product, less process" on archival description: minimal/extensible description, streamlining processes, using simple/faceted access points, reusing metadata
  • How we haven't changed: questioning existing descriptive practice, ignoring collective wisdom and current research in LIS

I think discusing any of these issues would be helpful to archivists -- a lot of these discussions have been taking place in the library world, and honestly I'm surprised that so few archivists have picked up on them. I'm also willing to solicit further ideas, of course.

If you are interested, please contact me and we can begin crafting a proposal.