Tuesday, September 14, 2010

RE: New ed. of Chicago Manual of Style

Posting to RDA-L
Hal Cain wrote:
<snip>
Quoting "Adam L. Schiff":
> I was sitting at lunch today, reading our weekly alternative newspaper The Stranger, and lo and behold they have a book review of the new (16th) edition of The Chicago Manual of Style:
http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/hyphenate-this/Content?oid=4830760
>
> The are a number of changes to the style manual mentioned in the review that have implications for RDA instructions and examples.
>
> RDA A.10: The guidelines for English-language capitalization basically follow those of the Chicago Manual of Style.(1) Certain guidelines that differ have been modified to conform to the requirements of bibliographic records and long-standing cataloguing practice.

Why should cataloguers (as evidenced and prescribed by RDA) follow styles which differ from the leading English style guides in the various English-language countries?

We're constantly being told that the data we craft may be employed not only in bibliographic catalogues of the kind we're used to but elsewhere, in as many different contexts as people can imagine. While I doubt some of those claims, I think some of the difference of stylewe're used to are retained for no good reason.
</snip>
Of course, every style guide is different, and champions of each format think that *their* form is best and will fight to the very end to keep what they have.

One of the "new" needs the users have from our bibliographic records that they didn't need back in Cutter's day is to be able to get automatic citations. People want them badly, and the reference librarian part of me wants them badly too, because people always mess up citations. It would be great if there were only a single citation format (or, by the way, a single way of cataloging!) but there isn't and won't be for a long, long time, if ever. Fortunately, modern tools are powerful enough to make everybody more or less happy, and OCLC is doing a fine job of it.

For example, take a record from my catalog, http://www.galileo.aur.it/cgi-bin/koha/opac-detail.pl?bib=7144, and click in the right-hand column "Get a Citation". A box will open up with citations ready to copy & paste. This is made available through OCLC and some very innovative RSS feeds (not MARC format!), and where OCLC does some additional filtering behind the scenes, e.g. take a look at the forms of author's names in each of the formats. The problem is, there are lots of duplicate records in OCLC, and multiple possibilities result, as we see here. I could easily limit this to the first five, but the first five do not necessarily seem to be the best choices, so I am letting it "all hang out".

Still, this is a great tool that has helped my patrons immensely and I applaud OCLC for this! It should also help catalogers understand how text in a database can be reworked for different display; e.g. we see the first names reformatted (capitalized, only initials, etc.). There are many ways of accomplishing these transformations and all of this allows for many possibilities.

I would like to point out that although automatic citations are a "new" need in library terms, in absolute terms, they are pretty old. According to Wikipedia, the first citation management software came out in 1984 (Reference Manager), Endnote came out in 1988, which has been some time ago, so in many ways, we are catching up here, too.

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