RE: Conference names : use of annual, etc.

Posting to RDA-L

Hal Cain wrote:

Yebbut– the hardest problems of achieving consistency usually arise from the inconsistencies found in the resources themselves. Regularizing such inconsistencies will infringe on the principle of representation: there should be a clear match between the resource and how it is described (and, I add, consistency in how we provide access) — and what searchers bring to the catalogue often starts with a citation, formal or informal, created by someone looking at the resource. You can’t get away from the thing in hand (or on screen, etc.) and suppress those inconsistencies.

Some of the wisest advice was given me a long time ago by an unforgettable fellow, who was a member of a one of those motorcycle gangs that gets violent occasionally. This fellow was pretty nice though and very “colorful”. His advice is certainly nothing new to anyone, but it was to me at the time, and it comes back to me occasionally. He said, with a lot of feeling: “If it ain’t broke, DON’T FIX IT!” But he did mention that figuring out exactly what is broken on a motorcycle or automobile can be very difficult and can turn out to be completely different from what you thought at first. You fix what is broken, otherwise you may be taking everything apart, changing parts that don’t need it and perhaps wind up making the engine run worse than before.

So, I look at the rule changes of RDA, such as this one for conferences and immediately wonder: “What is broken?” I confess that this one is a mystery to me. While I readily agree that members of the public experience problems finding conference names, I can’t imagine that adding the frequency to the conference name could be any kind of a “solution”. So, the public doesn’t need it; I don’t think librarians have problems with conferences that would be solved by such a rule. I think most of the problems people have with finding these names (and other authorized forms) have far more to do with the inability of library catalogs (or at least most of them?) to search authority files and bibliographic files at the same time using *keywords*, which is how everybody searches today.