Posting to Autocat
Aaron Kuperman wrote:
1. So the answer is to use the field consistently (within LC, we do), and to get the OPACs to be able to exploit it.
2. Since we don’t have hierarchy for geographic area (e.g. no where does the authority record for Italy indicate that Italy in part of Europe, or in LCSH terms, there is BT Europe for Italy), the GAC code (searching for any 043 whose first letter is “e”), is currently the only way to do a subject search that will retrieve every record pertaining to Europe (whether the record is specific to a country, region, or the whole of Europe). Consider (the all too realistic search) for any record on banks anywhere in Europe (to be combined with subject terms for”bailouts” perhaps).
I tried to point out that in the wider world of metadata (i.e. where our users reside), library records containing 043 codes represent a relatively small percentage of the total metadata records they will run across. As a result, limits on 043 will produce false results.
But there is a much better option than what you mention: to realize that the world of metadata is really huge, while librarians, catalogers, and their catalogs are not alone. This means to cooperate and use the other tools that are out there. While this sort of information is not in the LC Authority file, there is in the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names http://www.getty.edu/vow/TGNFullDisplay?find=italy&place=&nation=&english=Y&subjectid=1000080
and even dbpedia:
both of which have hierarchical information lacking in the LC authority record. In fact, the skos terms in dbpedia include additional, and very interesting, broader terms. I am sure that there are lots and lots of additional sites that are similar.
This is an example of how linked data could work if it were implemented in the correct ways. By linking together the LC authority record with the dbpedia and TGN tools, we could help to make something that has never existed before. Today, it really is possible to work smarter and create something better, when people decide to cooperate with one another. (I changed this from “if people decide to cooperate with one another” because it absolutely has to happen sometime) The technical mechanisms for achieving this level of interoperability exist now.