On 05/07/2012 20:53, J. McRee Elrod wrote:
Thank you for adding that death date. Practices to should be driven by a wish to help patrons, not save work.
While the idealistic side of me agrees, there is much in this statement. How can we help patrons in the very best ways? Obviously, this question should result in a list with many options, and one option would be to add a death date. As Miriam says, it takes up time when you could be working on another book. This is one of my problems with RDA–there is no evidence whatsoever that it will best help patrons, it will take time and money without making the work of cataloging any faster, yet it appears as if it will be implemented anyway for unknown reasons.
What are some other choices? Would people prefer better subjects for instance? If yes, what does that even mean? Analyzing down to 10% of the item from the current 20%? Just getting the subject headings to function correctly again? I have noticed that there seems to be decreasing use of subject subdivisions and it seems that many handle our subject headings more as subject descriptors. Subject subdivisions is complicated (especially if you don’t have access to the subject manuals) so maybe better subject training for catalogers would be useful, or to reconsider the use of subject subdivisions. But such questions would be difficult for patrons just to understand since our current implementation of subjects is so poor and incoherent.
For name headings, would people rather have death dates, or would they prefer URIs into dbpedia which could lead to Wikipedia-type disambiguation pages and links into scads of other materials?
What about adding links to full-text that are in Google Books, the Internet Archive, or somewhere else? For only one example, I noticed this for a book that was never reprinted, although there is a microform, and I can’t find a copy to estimate what a price would be: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/14011416. I am sure this book would be very expensive to buy and probably almost impossible to get on ILL, but there is a scan now and anyone who wants can download a personal copy! http://books.google.it/books?id=OLrbm7YRqPMC&source=gbs_navlinks_s. With your own copy, you can open it with types of software to make notes, make your own versions, or whatever. I think people would love to know that when they are looking at a record of something they want, they have the option of downloading it, no matter where it happens to be on the web.
So I agree: we should aim to help patrons, but we should figure out what they would prefer us to spend our time on, since we can’t do everything. Death dates? I think when presented a list of options, users would probably put this one near the bottom.