Tuesday, December 1, 2009

FW: Dept. vs. Department

On Mon, 30 Nov 2009 07:40:31 -0800, Daniel CannCasciato
wrote: [AUTOCAT]

>>>> Jane Kelsey wrote:
>> As this is a coming issue, is anyone in favor of going to Department?
>> I am moving more toward the idea of Department spelled out.
>
>I'm for spelling it out. There are many headings established (or
references) that use the spelled out form of the word and its variations in
French, Spanish, etc., that I think it would make retrieval and maintenance
easier if we did so all the time.

It would be best if this could be solved in an automated fashion, but I have my doubts about that. I am sure however, of one thing: NOBODY will ever think to search for "United States. Dept. of Defense." except for catalogers and people who have learned (or been burned) along the way. Somehow, a search for "United States. Department of Defense" must retrieve the correct result.

As Ed points out, the card catalog was very forgiving in these matters, and there was also a concern to cut down on the number of letters typed (a holdover from the Taylorist period in cataloging) but also to cut down on the number of cards produced. (More letters typed meant using more space which somewhere would translate itself into an extra card)

All these concerns are shreds of a history that no longer applies.

1 comment:

  1. Abbreviations can be ambiguous, especially regarding language. For example, "Rev. Biol." could be a reference to the Portuguese-language Revista de Biologia, the Spanish-language Revista Biología (published in Cuba), or the French-language Revue de Biologie (published in Romania). Spelling out the full word is much more explicit and will save the time of the reader. The original motivation of saving space or keystrokes shouldn't really apply anymore. Space is cheap, and keystrokes can be saved by implementing a good autocomplete function.

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