Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Title entries (Was: Editor as main entry)

Posting to RDA-L

On 08/10/2012 19:27, Adam L. Schiff wrote:
<snip>
Because the rule of three from AACR2 is gone, it doesn't matter how many creators there are for a work. In RDA the authorized access point for a work is the combination of the first named or prominently named creator and the preferred title for the work. Hence:

AACR2
245 00 $a Title Z / $c by Authors A ... [et al.].
700 1_ $a Author A.


RDA
100 1_ $a Author A.
245 10 $a Title Z / $c by Authors A, B, C, and D.

</snip>

Yes, and the problem with this (other than changing the rule of three to the rule of one and maintaining that it increases access--but that is another point) is that the 1xx field is not repeatable. If the four authors have equal responsibility, they should all be in the 100 field, while those with other responsibilities would go into 7xx, thereby making it similar to Dublin Core's "creator" and "contributor".

The reason there is only a single 1xx field is historical: something that was very useful before has no use today but it sticks around. Much like an appendix or the coccyx. If we were making records completely from scratch today, single main entries would not even be thought of.

Also, in the past, titles were considered quite differently from how catalogers consider them today. I remember how I was struck by the cavalier fashion they were handled in earlier catalogs, when I first started researching them. Many times, they weren't traced at all, even with anonymous works. Several times, I saw them just thrown in together into a section called "Anonymous, pseudonymous, etc. works" which made it pretty much useless. Journals were often included in these sections because the idea of corporate authorship took awhile. In these cases, I guess people just had to ask the librarian.

Look at the incredible guidelines for title entries (references) in Cutter's "Rules" to try to make titles of books useful for the public (see p. 56+ in his rules https://archive.org/stream/rulesforadictio02cuttgoog#page/n62/mode/1up) and we can get another understanding what Cutter really meant when he wrote: "To enable a person to find a book of which either ... the title is known". It was more complicated than it may appear since people rarely know the exact title of "the book" they want.

In sum, his rules show that "first-word" entry is minimized in favor of catch-word or other titles. Much of this part of his rules disappeared later, probably because of their complexity. As an example, he says to make a "first-word" entry for works of prose fiction (Rule 135) giving the intriguing reason that "novels are known more by their titles than by their authors' names". Even here he has an exception for the name of the hero or heroine in the title, citing the entry "David Copperfield, Life and adventures of" so that people didn't have to look for the book under "L".

Just wanted to share that bit.

Still, there is no reason for a single 1xx field any longer. Too bad that wasn't dropped instead of the rule of three...

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