Re: Soviet Union in Library of Congress headings (WAS: [ACAT] When do I use?)

Posting to Autocat

On 04/04/2013 20:19, Aaron Kuperman wrote:

Soviet Union — Foreign relations — Byzantine Empire is “inherently” ridiculous (unless you are describing time travel or alternate history) I suggest a guiding principle: Any cataloging rule that makes people smile is probably a dumb rule!

I can’t let this go. As I mentioned, it is a pet peeve of mine because I wasted so much time trying to figure it out and apply it.

I won’t argue with the fact that the heading you mention is ridiculous, but no more “ridiculous” than zillions of other headings found in our catalog such as “Italy–History–1268-1492”, which is absurd. At least those headings provide consistent access. With the example of Russia/Soviet Union/Former Soviet republics related to “Birds”, it is ridiculous to say that there is such a thing as “Soviet birds”. But there are “Soviet birds” according to LCSH.

It is even more ridiculous to expect the public always to search three separate headings for the same geographic area. It is also absolutely ridiculous to expect catalogers to be able to provide proper access consistently.  Do you dispute that? That is an absolute fact and has been the case for, what is it now–20 years?! (Hard to believe)

Library catalogs were built on certain principles. Abandoning those principles has grave consequences for catalogers, the public, and I think, libraries as a whole.

Concerning Frank’s suggestion of replacing everything with “Russia”, that would be fine with me since it would at least return to the principle of: 1 concept = 1 heading. Yet, this would abandon the other rule that the latest name of a geographic area is the one that should be used. If we wanted to change everything to “Former Soviet republics” that would be fine too since again, it would be 1 concept = 1 heading. Of course, there is still the problem is that “Russia (Federation)” is absolutely not the same geographic area as the single “Russia/Soviet Union/Former Soviet republics”. That also has many consequences that I haven’t mentioned.

RDA abandons many of the same basic principles of the catalog, as I have repeatedly pointed out, with consequences equally as great, or even greater. The only saving grace, apparently, is that many catalogers don’t seem to care much….