Thursday, July 15, 2010

RE: [RDA-L] Consolidated ISBD and RDA double punctuation

Posting to RDA-L

Bernhard Eversberg wrote:

<snip>
That would mean back to the drawing board, and is unrealistic.

One has to ask, however, what the future role of ISBD can or should be.

The difficulty of harmonizing ISBD with RDA and MARC results from the
fact that ISBD has no clearly defined element set. Every area has
a "Contents" section listing the elements of which it consists,
but these elements can consist of smaller parts or repeting sub-elements
which are introduced only in the text and examples. In the glossary,
one may even find elements ("Avant-titre") not referred to in the text.
</snip>

Well, in one sense there is a rather clearly defined data set. It's just that it's defined a bit differently.

I shall make up the following coding:
<isbd record>
<area type="1">
Voina i mir
<code type=" = ">
War and peace
</code>
<code type=" : ">
a dual language edition
</code>
<code type=" / ">
by Leo Tolstoy
</code>
<code type=" ; ">
translated by Joe Smith
</code>
<code type=" [] ">
electronic resource
</code>
</area1>
</isbd record>

Any ISBD cataloger in the world immediately understands this. That is quite a feat, and should be built on. I think it is what ISBD really wants to do and shows clearly the huge advantage of not using words, but codes that are understood by everyone.

My own opinion is that ISBD, instead of focusing on punctuation, should be establishing standards for guaranteeing record transfer using XML, a type of "exchange format" where someone can transfer an ISBD record (or the part of the record following ISBD) from any library catalog into any other library catalog (and potentially any other service that wants to use it). In the past, it was achieved with punctuation and placement on the card; in today's environment, there are different methods (not necessarily "better" methods but different).

This format *could* still use the punctuation, as I have shown, but this is rather bizarre and would probably need to change somehow. Naturally, it does not need to render on the screen for everyone this way, since each database manager could display " = " however he or she wanted.

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