Re: [ACAT] Added Title Entry to Include Initial Articles

Posting to Autocat

On 15/08/2013 14:36, Katherine Eastman wrote:


So yes, adding 246 Der Baumeister is only like putting Bondo on the leak in the radiator, and assures that the public will consider us to be incompetent.

It depends on whether or not you subscribe to a service model of library resources. Is it patently ridiculous to add articles back to every single bibliographic record of a monumentally large collection? Of course it is, but “slippery slope” is a logical fallacy for a reason. Making a note of the specific titles requested to have articles added, and adding a 246 variant title with an “other” indicator, will certainly not deal with the information literacy issue, but it won’t exacerbate it either.

Sorry, but I cannot agree with this. As “information experts” we must try to find the real, fundamental problems when we learn of instances of people having difficulties with our catalogs. The fundamental problem is that searching “der baumeister” shows that people are thinking in keyword mode and not in the library-cataloging model of left-anchored text browse, and it should be assumed that if this has popped up in this one case, there must be at least a thousand others that no one has complained about. This is accepted practice in business, and why businesses normally are desperate to hear people’s complaints. They know that only a tiny percentage ever complains; people just go elsewhere, so a business knows that a single complaint equals thousands of others, and would much rather know what people do not like so that they can at least try to fix the problem, and why complaints are so valuable for them.

A service model is a difficult point. Is it really a service to people to adjust individual records to make a few people “happy”–while doing so doesn’t even begin to solve the problems of the hundreds or thousands of others? People whom we must assume experience exactly the same thing with other titles, authors and subjects, and just quietly concluded that the catalog doesn’t work. After all, it’s true that it didn’t work for them. When people come to such conclusions, it leads us to extinction. Really and truly. Besides adding a lot of completely useless work for you and others.

So, what can be done? You have to ask: why are people searching the catalog incorrectly and what can be done about it? One option is to teach people how to search, but information literacy sessions have a long and very sad history of failure, and anyway it just passes the buck to others who will face the thankless task somehow to “train” every user of the catalog! Not a solution.

Another option (today) is that you can change how your catalog works by changing the default search to keyword, which will solve the current problem not only for initial articles, but also for surname-forename, and order of subjects with subdivisions. This would be the short-term solution and least costly in terms of money and resources since you wouldn’t have people spending their time adding redundant 246s. Of course, doing this also introduces many other problems (which I have discussed at length in other posts and podcasts) but those issues have to do with the internal structure of the catalog, i.e. its dictionary aspect.

To fix that will take much more work and cannot be done by individual libraries or individual catalogers. The first step must be a general understanding of how the dictionary structure of the catalog differs from the catalog itself, and then it needs to be understood that the dictionary aspect of the catalog is one of the real problems facing us. The problems of people searching “der baumeister” is a perfect, if simple, example of the difference. Unfortunately, I think it will be a long time before any of that happens, especially since so much time and so many resources are being spent on RDA.