Re: [ACAT] Final punctuation

Posting to Autocat

I think we have to ask ourselves what is the purpose of cataloging punctuation today? It makes no difference with searching; OPACS make a hash of alphabetical/filing order so forget that. When people use our catalogs, they do not understand our punctuation and don’t need to know. Nobody asks: “What is the meaning of the space-semicolon-space here”? (OK, there have probably been three people in history who have asked this question! 🙂 ) Cataloging punctuation has always been the butt of jokes.

The only place where punctuation may be useful today is when making bibliographical references, as Mac pointed out. The problem is, I haven’t seen any bibliographical citation formats that employ ISBD punctuation. When you save a reference with your citation management software, e.g. Zotero, Mendeley, Endnote, etc. so that you can cite it automatically in a document and 90% of it is formatted correctly, it isn’t because of the punctuation from the catalog records, but it is the citation management software that manages the punctuation.

For librarians, we can ask: would there be a major problem changing from:
The Control of education : international perspectives on the centralization-decentralization debate / edited with an introduction by Jon Lauglo and Martin McLean ; with contributions by Mark Bray … [et al.].

to something like:
The Control of education, international perspectives on the centralization-decentralization debate, edited with an introduction by Jon Lauglo and Martin McLean, with contributions by Mark Bray … [et al.].

After all, there are lots of records in our catalogs like the following and everyone seems to be able to deal with them.

Main title: History of the war in Affghanistan, from its commencement to its close; including a general sketch of the policy, and the various circumstances which induced the British government to interfere in the affairs of Affghanistan. From the journal and letters of an officer high in rank, and who has served many years in the Indian army. Edited by Charles Nash, esq., with an introductory description of the country, and its political state previous to the war.
Published/Created: London, T. Brooks, 1843.
Description: viii, 412 p. front. (port.) fold. map. 21 cm.

Without a doubt ISBD is important, but it is important because of its standardized rules for how to describe resources–not because of its punctuation guidelines. The punctuation was important in a card environment but serves no purpose today.