Friday, March 16, 2012

Re: [RDA-L] Card catalogue lessons

Posting to RDA-L

On 16/03/2012 00:33, Brenndorfer, Thomas wrote:
RDA's relationship designator is "defendant" to specify the relationship of the person to the work. Unlike anything prior, RDA tells it exactly like it is.

Catalogers did this before. Here is an example of "defendant" in the Sacco and Vanzetti case:

and there were lots of others. Here is "joint author" in the case of three authors:,+Arthur&g=26350.500000&n=8&r=1.000000&thisname=0000.0008.tiff, but there were lots more.

Our predecessors did all that work but decided that this information was of very marginal use for the public and therefore was not worth the effort. (Graphic arts retained some for their records) In addition, there was the ISBD statement of responsibility, plus guidelines to create notes when the SR was inadequate, and this provided much more specific information than the relator information.

It has not been demonstrated that the public needs this information in their searching any more than before. The only reason I can come up with (aside from purely theoretical, academic ones) is that in some of the possible futures of the Semantic Web, our metadata records will actually decompose and melt into the general "alphabet/semantic soup" and therefore, the link between the heading and the SR will be lost. This will happen especially in a WEMI data structure. Therefore, it is essential, when the SR is not so readily seen as in today's records, that the public will get a better understanding of the heading and what it really means in relation to this work/expression/manifestation (i.e. semantics).

Of course, I don't agree with this reasoning. I don't think it is essential. Adding the relator information is additional labor for no tangible gains. While I agree that the public has terrible problems with our catalog records, this would be ranked near the very bottom. Working on this distracts our efforts from the real problems with our catalogs.

Once again, if there were evidence that it does make such a major difference to the public, that would be one thing, but there has been nothing. We are all just supposed to simply believe it. Yet, I can't believe this will make a difference to anyone--especially when we will not be going back and adding relator codes to the millions of records we have now.

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