Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Re: [NGC4LIB] dates

Posting to NGC4LIB

On 26/07/2011 17:37, Laval Hunsucker wrote:
Yes, _dates_ !

Interesting issue. The kind of thing you mention can indeed be annoying. Perhaps even more so in the case of something like, say, the Epic of Gilgamesh, 2001 :-).

But *which*, and how many, dates would or should a catalog record give ? And how ?
FRBR provides date attributes for the work, expression and manifestation, but strangely, not for the item--something I am sure that makes sense somehow but the reasoning has always escaped me. It seems that if there is anything you really could provide a date for, it should be for the physical item you can hold in your hand. But... ?

I've always thought that traditional cataloging and MARC were relatively poor on dates, since there are lots of possible dates for metadata, including effective date of research (although something is published in 2011, the actual work on the resource finished in 2008 or 2009).

A lot depends on what you want the catalog to do. Currently, it is designed along Cutter's guidelines (from 1876!) Objective 3H was always sort of lost in the discussion, but the catalog certainly is designed to do everything else there.

When we add more "objectives" onto this list, the whole edifice begins to groan. For instance, a question such as "What do you have by 19th-century women authors from Holland?" (a more realistic question from a patron instead of others I have read) cannot be answered by the traditional catalog since it is not designed to do so. Best would be to suggest for people to browse the shelves for 19th century Dutch literature, looking for female names, but browsing has its own problems and this would not be using the catalog, but the arrangement of books. The absolute best would be *IF* you could find a reference work that lists women authors from the 19th century in Holland and to search each one from the list. In other words, suggest that the users do lots of work.

That is the traditional answer, but today it is possible for different databases to interoperate, so that a database of authors, limited to Holland, 19th century, female, could work in conjunction with our catalogs, or another database that may have the dates of specific works, such as Gilgamesh or Homer.

Catalogers no longer have to do everything from scratch--their systems can work with all kinds of other projects out there. This is what a next-generation library catalog should do, and, I think that if a database does not already exist, there would be many people from the scholarly community and/or the general citizenry who would be very happy to help create these kinds of databases.

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