RE: fairies and subdivision

Posting to Autocat

On Wed, 28 Apr 2010 15:27:59 +0100, Helen Buhler wrote:

>On 28 April 2010 at 8:56, Mike Tribby wrote:
>> “So, having set off this whole chain of arguments on footprints, authorship and the kid looking to steal material for a paper, I’ll just say that I myself have no issues with a fictitious character in a 600. As Kevin M. Randall said, and Mac echoed, “a name is a name”. Rules are the same for construction whether fictitious or not.”
>> I agree fully, however I’m mildly concerned about my anthropomorphic friends. Rather than Donald Duck (Fictitious character) in a 650 as it now is, in a 600 would it be:
>> Duck, Donald (Fictitious character),
>> which is like McDuck, Scrooge (Fictitious character)? Or would we retain the distinction between imaginary characters whose “surnames” are their species identification and those with more human-like surnames, yet place them in 600s rather than 650s?

>Good point, Mike. Another one to add to the long list of RDA decisions still to be made… My stepmother would be saying that someone hadn’t “thought it through”. Very wise advice, I’ve found.

Of course, the broader question of: why? also remains to be answered. What exactly is the problem that this change from 650 to 600 (which will demand at least a certain amount of resources to “fix”), what precisely is the problem either catalogers or our patrons have encountered that this is supposed to solve? If there is no problem, why go through the hassle of “fixing” it? In any case, I don’t see how this “solution” could solve anything at all. People will still search these things in exactly the same way, and only those few in the know will opt to select “search by subject” instead of by keyword. Still, even this will be the same.

In those systems where you can select “search by subject/personal name, subject/corporate name, subject/topic etc.” the very, very few people who understand what this means and use it will notice a difference because they will now have to look up Scrooge McDuck under subject/personal name instead of subject/topic; something that will probably strike them as just as strange as it does now.

And for the .001% of this tiny remainder of users who can actually look through browse displays of these subjects and choose to do so, they will notice that Scrooge McDuck has moved from the “S” to the “M” section. Still, I hope the authority record will have a cross-reference from the old form and any potential dismay on the part of our patrons can be avoided. [I have since discovered my error: Scrooge McDuck will not change from current models, but Donald Duck will, or might. In any case, this is not all that vital to the argument I am trying to make. Thanks to Mike Tribby who pointed this out and kept me honest!–JW]

Again, I ask: Why? The only possible utility for changing from a 650 to 600, it seems to me, would be to have the option to reindex the catalog to include 600s when you search for personal name authors. I guess this would be for readers who think that Miss Marple existed and wrote her own books. I wouldn’t suggest doing that, however.

This is the main problem I have with RDA: it is a lot of work for us to change our records and practices, to get retrained, but it certainly simplifies nothing substantial; the rules are still as arbitrary as ever. I don’t see how it can possibly raise productivity in any way, and it results in no substantive changes that our users will ever notice. It doesn’t make anything more easy to find, and 95% of the changes are cosmetic. In fact, as I review the “changes,” I think RDA actually stands for “Retype Designated Abbreviations.”

In many of these cases of typing out abbreviations, it would be much more logical instead to insert special codes for, e.g. “no place of publication” and have each institution display the text it chooses, in a language the user chooses. This way we could begin to utilize the power of the new technology to make our work easier and a more comfortable environment for our users.

Cataloging is in a state of crisis, as I think we all know. Perhaps changing to RDF instead of current MARC format will make a substantive change, I’m not sure, but these are the areas that will matter to our users. Changing the *cataloging rules* makes a difference only to us and not to the public or our institutions, as the example of Scrooge McDuck demonstrates.

Keep in mind the Cooperative Cataloging Rules!