Re: [ACAT] relationship designator for creator of characters

Posting to Autocat

On 11/13/2013 1:54 PM, Marc Truitt wrote:

I’m surprised that no one in this thread has mentioned the novels of Jasper Fforde in terms of literary characters who originated in the works of others. Surely the parade of characters representing essentially the entire canon of Western literature that appears in his Thursday Next and Nursery Crime series would serve as the perfect challenge for testing any scheme for expressing the relationships that have been under discussion on Autocat these past few days!

I have never read anything by this person before, but it seems to be a good test case. According to the absolutely definitive(!) Wikipedia page,, Fforde’s first volume in the Thursday Next series, “The Eyre Affair” is a work of alternative fiction and includes the Crimean War (which has been going on for a century), Jane Eyre, Charles Dickens, Hades, and on and on. Actually, his book seems to be a printed version of a type of mashup.

The headings in LC for this book are:
Next, Thursday (Fictitious character) –Fiction.
Characters and characteristics in literature –Fiction.
Women detectives –Wales –Fiction.
Crimean War, 1853-1856 –Fiction.
Fathers and daughters –Fiction.
Books and reading –Fiction.
Censorship –Fiction.
Wales –Fiction.
Form/Genre: Fantasy fiction.
Mystery fiction.

I have always had problems with these kinds of headings for fiction (are they really useful?) but for now, I assume that they are useful. I also assume that the strange heading: “Characters and characteristics in literature–Fiction”, is an attempt to deal with all of the literary characters in the book. If you look for “Literary characters” in LCSH, you are led to this heading. A tough choice for the cataloger because it is obviously an unsatisfactory heading. It is highly doubtful that anyone would ever look under such a heading, and a non-cataloger would probably not even understand it, but otherwise you would have to add an entire raft of individual literary characters and the result would be an
unwieldy record–there are already a lot of headings in this record–while you would find your supervisor yelling at you for spending too much time on one item.

But should we add the names of Jane Eyre and Pickwick, Dickens and Bronte to this record, and even the jurisdictions of the Russian Empire and England for fighting the Crimean War? There is a lot more besides. Where would it stop? What does the public need and want?

Since the cataloging field seems to be resolutely opposed to doing research on the public to find out what it wants, such as: do people want or need this kind of access at the expense of other things catalogers can do, such as raise productivity by cataloging more materials; since this is not and apparently will not be researched, we must ask: are there options for adding this kind of access?

It turns out that in dbpedia (the linked data source derived from Wikipedia), there is the page on Jasper Fforde
and I also found a page “Characters in the Thursday Next series”

When we look at this latter page in a nicer format,, it should be clear that if we want to give access to this kind of information through the catalog, it would be best to somehow use the information on this page instead of killing ourselves trying to recreate everything for ourselves. (Which would obviously lead to failure since it would overtax our meager resources)

So how could it work? IF the correct system were in place, when a searcher saw the record for this book in the library’s catalog, the searcher would be made aware that there was more information, possibly through something special in the author’s heading or the Thursday Next heading (going to, and the searcher would click on it or have a mouse-over, and see the information from the Wikipedia page.

In this particular instance, I do not see a link from Jasper Fforde’s or the Thursday Next pages in Wikipedia to the list of literary characters in his works, so perhaps the cataloger would need to add that in Wikipedia/dbpedia.

Consequently, in this case, all that would be needed in the catalog would be the link from the catalog record that people saw, to the link to the Wikipedia page, and the Wikipedia page would link to the characters page. We would be making our own mashup.

Sounds complicated to navigate (and it would be) but navigation would be a matter for IT and the information architects to solve. The cataloger would already have done enough.