Posting to Autocat
On Tue, 30 Nov 2010 12:01:53 -0800, Mark Braden wrote:
>Joining the many voices who say “keep the field”. I can think of no reason for removing it.
>I’m not asking this of the writer who started this thread, but rather to the Assembled Masses here:
>Why, in all seriousness, would one delete a field?
>I can imagine a few answers, but they are rare moments.
One reason to delete a field (or at least to suppress it) would be if it provides unreliable results, and it could be argued that the 043 field presents a perfect example of this. First, people forget 043s rather often. I have never seen any cataloging software that automatically supplies–or suggests–an 043 when a geographic subject is entered, but there may be something. (Of course, there are other times for entering 043s also)
But I think it is more important to keep in mind the future “environments” where catalog records will “live” and where they will have to interact. It seems as if almost everyone agrees that the future of catalog records will include going outside their traditional grounds, i.e. union library catalogs where records are created according to shared standards, to work with metadata records from other agencies; agencies that don’t have the slightest understanding of an 043. We can see this now in Google Books, but there are many others. As a result, a search or limit on an 043 code in these–in essence, mashed-up databases–will retrieve only a subset of what is really available, while the searchers most probably would not understand what is happening and would remain blissfully ignorant of what they are really seeing.
I don’t believe UNIMARC has 043 codes, certainly other metadata records do not. In a future search engine (and perhaps right now in Worldcat which includes a whole variety of records) an 043 search may not produce very reliable results.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that it would not be good to be able limit to geographic areas in some way, but relying on the 043 code may not be the best solution in the future.