Thursday, November 25, 2010

RE: More granularity if imprint year coding?

Posting to RDA-L

Hal Cain wrote:
<snip>
Quoting Deborah Fritz <deborah@MARCOFQUALITY.COM>:
> I think that what John actually said was "and *not just* with regard to the 260 field", my emphasis added, i.e., plans are afoot for adding granularity to the 260  *and* other fields.
>
> Which is certainly good news-for however long we are going to continue to use MARC for RDA.
Which for some will be a long time, I think, seeing how many smaller libraries I know that have little or no prospect of getting funding for replacing their existing MARC systems. On the other hand, some will need specialist help to rejig their MARC mapping to accomodate RDA records, but that will come rather cheaper than system replacement. It would be a service to us all to be able to incorporate new MARC subfielding (such as in 260) in one operation.
</snip>
I agree with Hal on this: any changes will take an awful long time to percolate through the system. The purpose of my original post on this topic was to point out the difficulties of everyone agreeing that "this particular item I am looking at" is the same as "this other particular item I am looking at". In other words, I was trying to point out the real difficulty of determining what is a manifestation. It is only a matter of *definition*, and different bibliographic universes will define their equivalent of a "manifestation" in different ways, and not only that, each individual cataloger/metadata creator who works within a separate bibliographic universe--all of whom may be highly experienced and knowledgeable--will also interpret things in their own ways. I cannot imagine that another bibliographic universe (e.g. publishers, rare book dealers, etc.) will change everything they do simply because our bibliographic universe changes our definition of what is a manifestation. After all, we wouldn't change for them.

If something that should be one of the simplest aspects of cataloging turns out to be so difficult to reconcile in practice ("This is--or is not--a copy of that"), then how in the world does that leave us with any hope at all to reach agreement on expression and work, which I don't think anyone maintains are "simpler" in any way at all? Finally, our records can no longer be considered separately from other records in different bibliographic universes out there, and they *will* (not must) interoperate all together somehow!

Understand my despair?

So, my concern is not so much that we need additional subfields (although Jonathan is absolutely right about systems needing them), because additional subfields necessarily increase complexity. Greater complexity should be avoided because it takes more time to do and catalogers need to be trained to input information consistently, otherwise we get hash. Just adding a bunch of subfields that are misused serves no purpose. Nevertheless, in certain *rare* cases however, adding subfields may actually *simplify* cataloger's work and in my experience, 260$c may be an example of one of those cases.

Or maybe not. I think it should be considered, but practical considerations (i.e. simplification) need to take precedence.

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