Monday, December 13, 2010

RE: Abbreviations in RDA records

Posting to RDA-L

Karen Coyle wrote:
<snip>
I don't think we can completely resolve the abbreviation issue in the  transcribed parts of our records, and I'm not convinced that is a reasonable goal. It does make sense to me to continue to control the links between abbreviations and spelled out forms in any of our controlled vocabularies, and to offer disambiguation where needed (a' la Wikipedia).
</snip>
And I return to my point: if we say that the public has problems with abbreviations, why should we only deal with our controlled ones, and ignore the abbreviations that cause them the most trouble? This makes no sense to me. It reminds me of a fellow I worked with back when I worked in grocery stores, and whenever a customer asked him for help, he would almost always say, "Sorry, that's not my department" and walk away. The reason? He would only help people on the aisles that he stocked. Yet, he claimed that he was very helpful to the customers!

I agree that solving the "abbreviations problem" is not a reasonable goal and there are other more pressing problems, but we should also not delude ourselves into thinking that typing out the abbreviations people already know and are going to have to deal with anyway in the millions of older records, is any kind of help at all. So, if we really want to help, it will have to be through some sort of automated means, and this implies maintaining the consistency we already have.

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