Re: Rule minutiae

Posting to RDA-L

On 19/12/2012 18:52, J. McRee Elrod wrote:

How wonderful to see my cataloguing teacher remembered and quoted. Ms Pettee occupies my cataloguing pantheon along with Margaret Mann and Judith Hopkins. Lubetski doesn’t make it, because he went too far in reducing redundancy, not anticipating the deconstruction of bibliographic records in OPAC displays. Much of SLC’s early work was dealing with records lacking statements of responsibility and imprint when the same as the original 1XX. The 1XX could change form or become 7XX, as well as the data not being displayed in logical order. “The Office” is not helpful as a 260$b when not following a 110. RDA allows the same error, in leaving too much to cataloguer judgement. We are going to be faced with the same upgrading required by AACR1 records.

That’s great!

Lubetzky lived in a print/physical world, not a keyword/virtual world, but it is difficult to fault him too much because the catalog has never been upgraded to deal in a coherent way with keyword access and the new ways that people interact with information. We are still making card catalogs. Unfortunately, RDA doesn’t change much of this at all.

For the current situation, I would suggest that Lubetzky’s question change from “Is This Rule Necessary?” to “Is This Rule Change Necessary?” When considering an answer to this question, there should be a need to demonstrate at least some kind of advantage to the change; otherwise, it is only change for the sake of change itself. And yes, I would hope that there would be at least some kind of concern over the practical consequences as well.

Is there a need to change the rules? Absolutely. One fact is that today’s world has much less need–if any at all–for a dictionary catalog. I don’t know how many people even understand what a dictionary catalog is since people use online dictionaries in a different way than printed dictionaries. But no matter what, the changes decided upon should have practical effects that will be positive for the various users of our catalogs–they should not appeal merely to our own aesthetic sensibilities. Otherwise we are creating “…an encyclopedic work of pedantic distinctions and specific directions for every possible vagary….”