Posting to RDA-L
On 1/30/2014 3:33 PM, Thomas Berger wrote:
– – Never even try to extract “data” from traditional “headings”
– – “Labels” are a convenience. Consistency within your own environment is a must, uniformity between libraries is nice to have but in contrast to “headings” they shall not be overburdenend with the ambition of universality or eternal fitness to every task imagineable.
Agreed, but the purpose of the heading was never to provide “data,” especially in the modern notion of data mining or other data manipulation. The purpose of the heading was to provide a label (I must insist!) for a group of resources that have been brought together. Those groupings supplemented the single arrangement of the physical materials on the shelves, because while other physical arrangements were possible, that would have demanded multiple copies of everything and was impractical. So, you would rearrange your materials virtually, using cards. Catalogs do exactly the same thing today only they don’t use the cards.
Still, the groupings and arrangements must ultimately mean something to those who use them (humans). No user has ever understood what “DG575.M8 A2 1998“ meant but when you went for it, you were among the physical materials and you understood what the number meant when you got there by what you saw arranged under that number and the items around it. In the catalog however, there must be something else that people can understand attached to that alternative grouping. I call that a label, although it doesn’t have to be text and could be an image (like a t.p. scan or a screenshot) or a bit of music, a video clip or who knows what that label could be, so long as it tells the human what the grouping contains. Plus, the human must be able to find that grouping, even though when he or she begins the search, they may have no idea the grouping even exists.
The card catalog handled that very nicely with the cross-references, but I have seen nothing similar in library catalogs, except in left-anchored text browses, when you are searching the OPAC like a card catalog.