Monday, August 22, 2011

Re: Justification of added entries

Posting to RDA-L

On 20/08/2011 21:52, J. McRee Elrod wrote:
<snip>
Karen, you asked:
Mac, can you give more info on difficulties caused ...
Go to various OPACs and search by any prolific author. In some you will see the person's names displayed once, with titles alphabetically following. The name displayed is from the 100 or 700 of the first title listed. In others you will see the name searched displayed for each title; in others, the name displayed only if the main entry, so a 700$e could not replace descriptive justification for that added entry.

... [examples of Karen Coyle's publications]
</snip>
These are great examples. I just wish someone would actually demonstrate what would be the impact on the public of adding the relator codes, plus, if the idea is to try to get other metadata creators to provide records that are useful to us (and ours to them), the ISBD statement of responsibility is easy and simple, and it will be exactly the same thing for everyone. Plus, copy and paste is possible today avoiding the old idea of double work.

I have never seen any research detailing the usefulness to patrons to *search* a name as an author vs. editor vs. compiler vs. whatever. I have seen it in graphic arts, where they often want to distinguish, e.g. Albrecht Durer as engraver or painter, but the general usefulness to searchers should be demonstrated somewhere, otherwise we are spending precious time and resources building things that will make no difference to anyone. Cataloging already dropped it once, e.g. http://imagecat1.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/ECC/cards.pl/disk19/1351/C4915?d=f&p=Einstein,+Albert+1879-1955&g=8273.500000&n=21&r=1.000000&thisname=0000.0021.tiff where we see Infeld listed as a "joint author" but there were plenty of these relators to be found in old catalogs. Even then, the purpose was display because the author cards were not subdivided into "author", "joint author", "editor" and so on, but with the exception of some graphic arts databases mentioned above, the relators were ignored for filing purposes.

So, if it is not for searching, the coding must be for *display* purposes, as it was in the card catalog; nevertheless, the usefulness of this too should be demonstrated somewhere by somebody, instead of  everyone apparently taking it for granted that this will make a difference to a significant number of members of the public. In my own experience, it wouldn't make the slightest difference to anyone and I doubt if many would even notice it. It must be pointed out that librarians themselves should have no difficulty with the current situation since they are supposed to understand what a statement of responsibility is all about.

Just because things can be coded doesn't mean it makes sense to do so, if it leads to no practical benefits for anyone. So, we return once again to a lack of a viable business plan for RDA: what are the problems, what are the solutions, why does this solution make more sense than others, and how does it rank in the list of priorities? All of this related to the available budgets. If we would follow a rule of, as Mac put it, "cataloger's whim", the costs of implementation and training would be substantially lower (no need for standardization) but the final product would doubtlessly become "... most foul, strange, and unnatural."

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