Re: Expressions of manifestations (?)

Posting to Autocat

On 24/06/2011 16:01, Brenndorfer, Thomas wrote:

Gene Fieg wrote:

We just came across something that may or may not be addressed in the new discussions of the new age of cataloging: expressions of manifestations.

We get the translated works of Bonhoeffer, published by Fortress Press. After consulting our vendor’s website, there seems to be a one to one relationship between original volumes of collected works in German (by the German publisher) and the volumes of the English translations.

Since these are translations of the German volumes, is there any to indicate that in the record so that, for instance, the patron could compare the German with the English translation.

There are two types of expression relationships going on here.

The vertical relationship (“primary relationship”) is Expression Manifested, and it’s a Core element in RDA. Basically, this relationship just indicates that in hand is the English translation of a particular work in this particular manifestation.


I think this exchange shows that some new thinking is in order. People have been complaining about how lousy the current PCC records are, and now we are all supposed to think that catalogers can supply something like this?! Expecting records of this complexity and difficulty is just beyond the realm of possibility if we can’t even supply records of less complexity today. Sooner or later, I think there has to be a sense of what can be realistically attained with our ever-diminishing resources. In a more updated catalog, how could we furnish users with much the same functionality using what we have *right now*? I believe it is more than possible.

Right now, I can search Worldcat as “au: Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, 1906-1945 ti:ethik” and retrieve:

This uses the power of the uniform title and author to provide a very handy display that the searcher can re-sort in various ways: relevance, author, dates, and in the left-hand column, find the dates, other authors (in this case, no others), languages, and “topics” (although I have never completely understood how this part works). This power exists *only because* the catalogers have assigned uniform titles correctly and consistently.

This retrieves a very small result set, so let’s try with something more: Homer’s Odyssey. Here, we can limit in all kinds of ways: by books, audiobooks, videos, etc.; we can limit by Pope’s translation, by date of publication, by language, etc. etc. etc.

Can this be improved? Of course it can, and undoubtedly it will, but everyone needs to recognize that modern computer systems allow the catalog to extract information from the individual records in the search result and display it, as in this case, where the searcher can see the other authors, dates, languages, plus sorts and so on. Consequently our catalogs already *can do more than anyone could have imagined just 25 years ago*. It would completely blow the minds of our “barbarous” ancestors from the 19th century (to borrow an expression from Thomas Jefferson).

Does it take some incredibly expensive, state-of-the-art catalog to get these kinds of displays? No, not at all. Koha allows it and the price is *free*! That’s right, it’s open source and available for download by anybody. Here is an example at Middletown Township Public Library:

These are the sorts of directions our profession needs to take if we are to retain any kind of relevance to our public or even to society. The main task is to continue to create complete and consistent catalog records. Plus, we need to accept that FRBR merely presents a 19th century vision and people have moved on. At the same time, computer systems are fabulously powerful today. Let’s figure out how to push those computer systems to their limits.

We need to work smarter.