Posting to RDA-L and Autocat
Apologies for cross-posting, but this is pertinent to both lists.
On 05/13/2011 02:09 AM, J. McRee Elrod wrote:
On Autocat there has been a discussion of all upper case titles in RDA test records. Most find them objectionable, whether a result of “take what you see”, or ONIX harvesting.
Considering ONIX procedures, I would like to point out that the ONIX Best Practices document
(http://www.bisg.org/docs/Best_Practices_Document.pdf) states very clearly on p. 12 that capitalization of titles is important:
“Titles should *never* [their emphasis] be presented in all capital letters as a default. The only times that words in titles should be presented in all capital letters is when such a presentation is correct for a given word. Acronyms (e.g. UNESCO, NATO, UNICEF, etc.) are an example of a class of words that are correctly presented in all uppercase letters. When acronyms are made possessive, however, the terminal “s” should not be capitalized.”
Then comes a list of examples.
So, it would seem that through ONIX harvesting, we would get records that more or less correspond to our own practices, that is, if the ONIX metadata creators follow their own procedures.
Capitalization does seem important to the general community, e.g. in addition to ONIX, see the in-depth rules for Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(capital_letters),
for a nice discussion, the Web Style Guide at http://webstyleguide.com/wsg3/8-typography/5-typographic-emphasis.html, see also the Yahoo Style Guide at http://styleguide.yahoo.com/editing/treat-abbreviations-capitalization-and-titles-consistently/capitalization.
As the last one mentions, all caps tends to send an alarm, and be interpreted as shouting (as I myself interpret it).
Therefore, from this it seems that a title (or anything else) in all caps would tend to come from the item itself through scanning and OCR, or in some other way.
I realize that the rule for accepting capitalization as it is actually hides a Taylorist attitude of aiming for greater mechanical productivity, since a rather time-consuming manual activity, akin to drudgery, could be avoided. Still, although in one sense, it shouldn’t make any difference to people (although searching for “who” and “WHO” and “The Who” are conceptually different), it appears that capitalization really is important to the public at large. Therefore, it should be important for us as well.
My own opinion is that people already have enough problems with our records and we shouldn’t repel them even more. Correct capitalization is too complex to do 100% automatically, and human editing will be necessary (as it is taken for granted by other agencies as shown above). Therefore, methods should be found to help make the human cataloger more efficient. For example, if something is all caps, there should be the option of making it all lower-case or sentence-case automatically (very possible to achieve right now, e.g. http://thesentencecase.org/) so the cataloger at least does not have to retype everything, and just edit a few special words that would need adjustment of some sort to the capitalization. These kinds of capabilities would be extremely easy to add to a catalog. I am sure more would be possible once we thought about it in these terms.