ACAT What about “Citizens”?

Posting to Autocat

On 4/14/2016 10:18 PM, John Gordon Marr wrote:
This entire thread (now in 2 parts) serves as a “case study” in the value of accurate and objective terminology, not just in libraries, since libraries are concerned with accurate communication across the entire society (on which they might also have a positive effect).

This is exactly my point: there is no such thing as “objective” terminology. It is something that does not and cannot exist. For instance, I have met people who absolutely hate the name heading: “Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616” because they are convinced that Shakespeare could never have written those plays, and they would want the heading to be “Oxford, Edward De Vere, Earl of, 1550-1604″ or ” Bacon, Francis, 1561-1626″ or “Elizabeth I, Queen of England, 1533-1603” or whoever they believe “actually” wrote the plays to reflect the reality that they prefer. I can add many headings like this.

In the past, it didn’t really matter because everything was locked up in our separate library “silos” where we had complete control, but in the future our records will be seen more and more often outside of the library environment and we will lose that control. People of all sorts will take issue with our practices in ways we can’t imagine now.

To believe in “objective” terminology is like believing in something that “doesn’t move”. Before Einstein, people could believe that there is such as thing as total and complete lack of any movement (Ptolemaic universe), but especially with Einstein’s theories, we discover that everything is constantly moving and what seems to us to be stationary is only relative. So, I can be here in Rome, sitting quietly on my couch, but actually, the Earth is spinning at 1,000 mph; the Earth is going around the sun at 18 miles per second; the solar system is moving at 400,000 miles per hour around the galaxy and so on. (https://astrosociety.org/edu/publications/tnl/71/howfast.html) Just thinking about that wears me out!

For better or worse, the information universe has changed just as much as the Ptolemaic universe changed to the Copernican, to the Newtonian to Einstein’s. Librarians are going to have to deal with the larger universe of people, with each one having a different viewpoint. No single one will necessarily be “correct”. I can have my own opinions, but others can disagree very strongly, as Rep. Black believes that “Illegal aliens” is “correct” and my opinion turns out to be just one opinion of many. Catalogers cannot decide “correctness” because it does not exist and nobody can win such an argument.

The main task of the catalog however, is much simpler: to bring that concept together into a single grouping for retrieval, as much as humanly possible. We can do this with a URI and then decide how to deal with the labels (the 4xxs or UF) in the display. At the moment, I don’t know how it can be done, but I am sure it can be. And I think the catalog will be better for it.

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