Posting in conjunction with the RDA@yourlibrary conference
J. McRee (Mac) Elrod wrote:
Certainly the game is not worth the candle. But to avoid the cost of editing incoming records, exisiting entries need to be changed, or split files would result.
If “N.T.” and “O.T.” were to be removed, and treaty main entry improved, both would have been better accomplished by AACR2 revision pages.
The spelling out of well known abbreviations hurts useers kof hand held electronic devices with small screens, more than it helps anyone.
While I agree, what I think would be far more productive would be to concentrate efforts on how to best incorporate various types of linked data. Focusing on “what form of heading is best” is a never ending loop, because different communities and different people will choose different forms. Therefore, the cross-reference structure and the entire syndetic structure is absolutely critical if anyone is to use any of our headings effectively. The fact is, the actual textual string of a heading is much less important today since that form could actually be different based on what the searcher prefers.
And when we change our focus to what our patrons see, i.e. *not* only what is available in the local catalog/collection, but to what is really available to them outside the catalog as well, matters change yet again. There is the possibility to use tools such as VIAF to find related forms of e.g. Leo Tolstoy in other catalogs on the web in the world. If libraries were then to include dbpedia in some way, an exponential amount of information would open up to the public.
When someone looks at the task of information control from such a viewpoint, changing a heading from Dept. to Department or taking out or adding N.T. or O.T. or changing 1957- to born 1957 is really irrelevant to the task. I agree that people have major problems understanding and relating to traditional catalog records, but RDA addresses none of the real problems the public experiences with catalog records, or the library catalog itself.