Monday, September 26, 2011

Re: Objection to author's birth year

Posting to Autocat

On 26/09/2011 17:38, J. McRee Elrod wrote:
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What do you do when contacted by an author objecting to the birth year in main entry? In the most recent case, there are three records in Amicus with the birth year in the entry.

So far I'm refusing on the basis of national standards, and referring her to Library and Archives Canada.
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Not only does adding birth dates to records exasperate many people, this also seems to be a good opportunity once again to bring up some better methods of resolving conflicts than what we have traditionally used. I personally find the disambiguation page in Wikipedia to be vastly superior to the traditional cataloging methods of using dates of birth to break conflicts. While it serves the purpose of keeping authors and their works separated, it does not help searchers very much. Compare e.g. "John Johnson" in Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Johnson and the LCNAF, http://tinyurl.com/6yo9ys2.

The Wikipedia method of using meaningful information to describe each person as artists, military figures, politicians, etc. than the dates, e.g.
Johnson, John, 1662-1725
Johnson, John, 1706-1791
Johnson, John, 1732-1814
Johnson, John, 1759-1833
Johnson, John, 1766-1829

Patrons see and use these different methods and in this case, it's pretty easy to predict which they will prefer. Then they compare the different ways and draw conclusions as to which is better and more useful to their needs.

I think we could learn a lot from tools such as Wikipedia.

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