Thursday, October 20, 2011

Re: Mistakes carried over fiction CIP

Posting to Autocat

On Sun, Oct 16, 2011 at 5:29 PM, Hal Cain wrote:
<snip>
As a veteran of some years of working a public library reader's advisor desk, at a time when searching a catalogue was less flexible than it is now, I can assure you that providing answers to questions of the kind "Have you any novels about [person, situation]?" or "Have you any novels set in [place or period]?" consumed quite a number of hours for me and my colleagues.  And that was in response to those (probably the minority) who came and asked -- when moving round in the fiction shelves, I often asked people who looked a bit lost, "Are you looking for something in particular?" and one of the common answers was "A novel about ...".
</snip>

I agree with the utility of these headings, so that something like "War and Peace" gets "Napoleonic Wars, 1800-1815--Campaigns--Russia--Fiction" e.g. http://lccn.loc.gov/2008297431. Also, these headings are useful when someone wants the next "Inspector Lynley" mystery. 

But I am skeptical of the utility of records like the one here (See: http://lccn.loc.gov/99025352): Here is the publisher's description:
"Lyman, a thirty-year-old orphan, is sipping coffee on the front steps of the trailer he calls home one morning, when a ninety-year-old parrot arrives with a beakful of cryptic sayings -- such as "That which hath wings shall tell the matter" -- and a mysterious past. Convinced that heeding the bird's wisdom will lead him to answers about himself he so desperately seeks, Lyman combines his night job as a courtesy patrolman, circling the highway that loops around Fort Worth, with days in the library. Together with Fiona, the loquacious librarian, he traces his adopted pet's origins, and while what Lyman ultimately discovers may not help him piece together his own past, it paves the way for a future he never imagined." 
And the subjects assigned are:
Librarians --Fiction.
Parrots --Fiction.
Police --Texas --Fort Worth --Fiction.
Fort Worth (Tex.) --Fiction.
plus a genre heading: Black humor (Literature)

What is the experience of most people on this list? Is somebody really going to look up "Parrots--Fiction" etc.? Also, is the genre heading correct, or is the cataloger drawing a conclusion that may, or may not, be correct?

What is the experience people have had with Amazon and their headings, e.g. "Police procedurals"? Or under Mystery, there is:
Anthologies (2,918)
British Detectives (3,722)
Canadian Detectives (321)
Cat Sleuths (118)
Hard-Boiled (4,017)
Historical (2,817)
Reference (701)
Sherlock Holmes (834)
Women Sleuths (10,618)

I assume that these are useful, otherwise Amazon would not employ them, but I honestly do not know.

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