RE: We have veered way off the topic… (was Are MARC subfields really needed?)

Posting to NGC4LIB

Ted Koppel wrote:

Traditional ILS OPACs (and for the matter, NG OPACs) are simply and *only* for displaying the structured data. As long as you know where to find that data ins a structure (whatever structure – MARC or something else) then combining it, presenting it, sorting it, is the responsibility of the application, not the data. So if someone wants to have a bibliographic record display to a user with two main entries (note that I am purposely *not* saying two 1xx fields), that’s the OPAC application’s responsibility, not the data’s. You want to browse by title? Fine – but that’s an application and presentation issue, not a data issue. As long as the data is structured in some sensible way, it can be done.

I agree with you up to this point. A lot of it does have to do with the data. The War and peace example is one: the titles proper file pretty well in Michele’s catalog (I still see some problems as I continue browsing), *so long as the coding is consistent*. Again, for someone who hasn’t done it, figuring out what is the title and what is “other title information” may seem simple–and mostly it is–but often it is difficult.

Here is an example of a book in the Internet Archive:

On the title page is:
The adventures of Huckleberry Finn
(Tom Sawyer’s comrade)
Scene: The Mississippi Valley
Time: Forty or fifty years ago.

Now I will switch to the cataloging thought process:
So, the question is: what is (Tom Sawyer’s comrade)? It renames Huck Finn and puts him into a relationship for those who know Tom. But is it part of the title proper? Is it a subtitle?

Essentially, it renames Huck Finn, and in a grammatical sense, it is closely related as a clarifying phrase and therefore would be in $a. Yet, it is in parentheses. If there were just a comma after the word Finn, I wouldn’t hesitate to put it in $a, but the parentheses are a pain. Still, in my opinion, Twain threw in Tom Sawyer as a marketing ploy trying to capitalize on the popularity of his earlier novel. Therefore, (Tom Sawyer’s comrade) is best placed in $b.

Of course, this would be a mistake because the purpose of a catalog is to be consistent. Therefore, we should look to see if there are other editions and see if someone has dealt with this before and what they have done. And of course, we have: We discover that it is put in consistently as part of the $a (or by what I have seen, it’s pretty consistent). Good catalogers! So therefore, based on the rule of consistency, I do *not* add the $b, even though I do not agree with it, because I am a cataloger. This is how to make the machine work correctly.

If we put in the $b, it would (should) file differently. There are hundreds of points like this that we have to deal with every day. This is the reality of what cataloging is, while doing less is more akin to filing out forms.

We can argue that such a level of accuracy and consistency is no longer needed today. That is a separate point, but here I wanted to point out that the coding *and* the data go hand in hand.

As a later post in this thread mentioned, there are then additional considerations concerning a uniform title, or, the idea that what is essentially the same text should come together.