Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Re: [ACAT] "Stories" vs. "Fiction" (was: Mommy porn)

Posting to Autocat

On 13/08/2012 14:30, Mary Mastraccio wrote:
<snip>
Although I am all in favor of URIs, your example does not address the issue being discussed. Most current genre lists assume that it is not appropriate to let people know you have a book of true "adventure stories". A story does not need to be fiction, as Hal Cain pointed out with the Wikipedia definition. It is not helpful to users to insist that stories only be used for fiction.
What you could have in the URI is http://id.loc.gov/authorities/subjects/sh85001072 [Adventure stories]
UF Adventure and Adventurers--Fiction
Adventure and Adventurers--Biography
Adventure and Adventurers--Juvenile fiction
Adventure and Adventurers--Juvenile biography
Adventure fiction
True adventure stories 

There are fixed fields that pull out the fiction and non-fiction/biography aspects.
</snip>
But when we have a simple cross-reference from "Stories" to "Fiction" that people have worked with--very possibly--for a very long time, to suddenly decide that "Stories" no longer means "Fiction" could also be very confusing for the longtime users of the catalog, who will find everything changed and will have to relearn the headings all over again. Plus, I wonder how much catalog maintenance such a decision would demand. It appears to me that the correct heading for true narratives is "Adventures and adventurers" and/or "Voyages and travels" with all kinds of subdivisions possible. It seems to me that a genuine solution would be to lead people to these headings instead.

As Hal points out, many more scope notes are absolutely needed throughout the entire LCSH system, but for the public and for the cataloger I also believe that much of the problem also stems from the idea of a single label to describe the "set of all resources with the subject Adventure stories [or any subject or heading]".  The 1xx and all of the 4xxs can now be equal, although that was almost impossible in a printed catalog (yet Thomas Hyde's catalog proves that it could be done). Certainly there would be consequences to this (a reference conflicting with a reference never needed to be qualified, while in the system I suggest they may need to be qualified). I agree that we should be doing what is most helpful for patrons, and I think these sorts of solutions would be much more fruitful and forward looking than deciding that "stories" no longer equals "fiction" and requiring the ever decreasing number of cataloging resources to "fix" a significant number of headings (potentially a huge number), causing massive amounts of work and confusing our current patrons.

If there is a problem with patrons understanding these headings, add lots of scope notes and make sure that the public can see them. All this needs to be done anyway since the authority files haven't worked in a keyword environment, and it would make sense to fix that first. That would be the most helpful to the patrons.

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