ACAT Istanbul versus Constantinople

Posting to Autocat

On 10/28/2015 3:53 AM, J. McRee Elrod wrote:
Seems to me if a patron wants materials on Constantinople, s/he should be able to search Constantinople, and if s/he wants materials on Istanbul, s/he should be able to search Istanbul. If an item covers both (rare I suspect), there should be both headings. The two headings should be connected by see also references.

As it is, the patron must look though all the material on Istanbul to find materials on Constantinople, and vice versa. I can see why many just do keyword search.

It is the principle that 1 concept = 1 heading. That is what is “correct” in the catalog. In the case of Constantinople/Istanbul, the geographic area hasn’t changed, and it is the geographic area that is the single concept at work here. Therefore, it should get one heading. In this case, there was a change of name from Constantinople to Istanbul. Thus, there is a choice among different names, so the latest name becomes the heading. And yes, there are lots and lots of materials that cover it all, e.g. the history of education, architecture of the city, etc. etc.

It’s when the principle becomes 1 concept = 2 or 3 headings that causes all of the problems.

When you think about it, we have tons of subjects that make “no sense,” e.g. the pre-1860s subjects for Italy (when it didn’t exist), the pre-1776 headings for the United States, e.g. “United States–History–Queen Anne’s War, 1702-1713”. This is absurd–there was no United States from 1702 to 1713. It “should” read “Great Britain. Colonies. America” but doing that would result in a disaster for the public.

There should be a series of cross-references to help the public but our cross-references don’t work, as I have demonstrated often enough. I think that newer systems and tools such as linked data, which can import data in all kinds of ways, could help a lot in this regard.

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