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Posting to Autocat

On 1/19/2015 12:10 AM, Julie Moore wrote:

Several people have noted that EAD is for “finding aids” but not “library catalogs.” So there is this separation between finding aids and the catalog. I have not been involved in creating “finding aids.”

In traditional practice, a finding aid is considered equivalent to an index into the greater resource (the special collection the finding aid describes). Catalogs exist to give access to the “greater resources,” i.e. an entire serial or a special collection. Therefore, in the catalog we find records for the “greater resource,” and any indexes are mentioned if they exist–but the actual contents of an index are not included in the catalog. Therefore, in cataloging terms, the finding aid has been considered to be similar to the 500 “Includes index” note, just putting it into a 555 note.

There was also a concern that adding entire finding aids to the catalog, each one describing thousands and thousands of individual records for each letter within someone’s correspondence, or for each note or doodle, would skew the catalog so much that the catalog would no longer provide a fair view of what can be found in the library.

Today, such considerations have been thrown out since the “single search box” brings it all together, for better or worse. I am unaware of any debate on these matters, but I think a debate would still be worthwhile. Still, we hear that “the single search box is what the public wants!”

Is it really what the public wants? I don’t know. It would make for an interesting discussion and an interesting research project.

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