Posting to Autocat
On 2/1/2016 5:52 PM, Noble, Richard wrote:
Our major databases, if not our institutional catalogs (which can be simplified, if that suits perceived institutional needs) should serve, for example, a researcher who is interested in finding every searchable instance of the false place of publication “Utopia”. If that word is transcribed only in a note, it sinks into an undifferentiated morass–it loses its value as searchable information, because one must now inspect every blessed record that has “utopia” in a note to see whether it refers to a false place of publication; usually, among very many occurrences, it doesn’t, and the information is now effectively hidden from our researcher, only as retrievable as, let us say, a mis-shelved book.
Interesting. I have not heard of this anywhere before. The traditional purpose of the catalog, as elaborated by Charles Cutter, was to allow people to find books by their authors, titles, and subjects. FRBR has extended this in some ways, by adding new relationships among these “entities” but it does not provide new entities. I have seen other catalogs that allow people to find materials by the publisher’s name (those catalogs use authorized forms for publishers). But I have never seen a catalog that allows someone to find every searchable instance of a place of publication. This is going far beyond what has been done before.
If someone wants to find materials published in a certain place, so long as we are not using authorized forms (or in the future, URIs) people will forever be stuck searching text strings. So, if a book in Russian claims that it was published in Utopia, the searcher would have to search for “утопия” or in French, it would be “Utopie” or in Turkish, it would be “ütopya”. Materials published in Rome will have the place as “Roma” or “Rzym” or “Рим” or all kinds of other forms.
If we want to build something that allows someone to find every searchable instance of a place of publication, that can be discussed. I am not against discussing it, but it certainly shouldn’t be accepted silently, as so many other cataloging rules and procedures with far-reading consequences have been implemented without much, if any, discussion concerning the practical benefits vs. the costs and responsibilities.