Saturday, August 6, 2011

Re: Completeness of records

Posting to RDA-L

On 05/08/2011 21:51, J. McRee Elrod wrote:
<snip>
Karen said:
It is easy to find records for translations that do not have a uniform title for the original.
Our smaller clients strongly object to a 240 for translations, particularly if the foreign language text is not on the title page; they say it confuses patrons. We change the 240 to to 246 3 $iTranslation of:$a. They accept 240 for classical music and Shakespeare, but little else.

There is also the case in Canada of simultaneous publications in English and French. There is no way of know which is a translation of the other.

Don't assume failure on the part of the cataloguer; it may be patron desire. Patron convenience seems to be the forgotten factor in much or our discussions.
</snip>
The simple fact is: it is very difficult to claim on the one hand that the tasks users need to be able to do are defined by FRBR, i.e. find, identify, etc. works, expressions, manifestation, and items and then say that the uniform titles are not needed. FRBR is absolutely based on the uniform title to bring everything together. Of course, I seriously question whether people do want the FRBR user tasks, as my latest podcast shows, but aside from those considerations, it is all a matter of what kind of standards we are following: should they be real, no-nonsense, enforceable standards, or just make-believe standards with a "nudge-nudge, wink-wink" attitude where nobody really cares one way or another. This is why I say that libraries do not follow the kinds of standards they follow in other professions. I admit that people may have some very understandable reasons for not following the standards, but standards are nevertheless standards and must be respected.

Here is an example of a scandal in Rome from a few months ago. Someone videotaped a busdriver who not only was talking on his cellphone BUT ALSO was texting on another cellphone while steering the bus with his elbows! http://tv.repubblica.it/copertina/guida-l-autobus-con-due-cellulari-in-mano/68210?video=&ref=HREC1-8.

Now, so far as I know, this guy may have been the best and safest bus driver in Rome even doing this--and perhaps he even could have had two more phones, texting with his toes at the same time and everyone would still have been perfectly safe because he is such a great driver--but the fact is: he ignored the standards for driving buses and was fired. Just as he should have been. If he had been driving *alone*, in his own car, not on a public road but on his own property, then maybe he could do anything he wanted, but in the environment he was working in, he had no choice in the matter except to follow the rules whether he liked them or not. When he chose not to follow them, he was rightfully punished.

I honestly do not believe that metadata creation (cataloging) will be taken seriously as a profession until there are serious standards based on the generally-accepted business principles of providing what people *really* want, minimum requirements, and enforcement. If they aren't enforceable, we get the bibliographic equivalent of that Roman busdriver. And again, as I have said, these standards must be *realistic* and *achievable*. In my experience, it seems that AACR2 already represented an unachievable standard and from what I see of the discussion of RDA, if AACR2 is too much, RDA will be even more prone to error.

What can we conclude?

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