Re: [ACAT] “ISBD Punctuation Omitted”?

Posting to Autocat

On 06/05/2013 20:08, Tennant,Roy wrote:

On 5/6/13 5/6/13 € 11:00 AM, “Aaron Kuperman” wrote:

P.S. Have you ever tried explaining ISBD punctuation to someone who had never seen a catalog card?

Similarly, have you ever tried to explain ISBD punctuation to a software programmer?

Of course, this can be turned around: what is it like for a software programmer to explain perl or php to a cataloger? A lot of that doesn’t make much sense either.

What I do not understand, and never have understood, is why MARC has always treated beginning punctuation as ending punctuation. Much, or most, of ISBD punctuation is based on preceding punctuation and not just ending punctuation. If the punctuation had been handled in that way, matters would have been much clearer. As a quick example:
245 10 |a Innocent abroad : |b Belgium at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 / |c by Sally Marks.

Supplying punctuation as ending punctuation is complex here. That is because the punctuation at the end of 245a is determined by whether a 245b exists or not. It would be much easier to supply the coding if the punctuation had been:
245 10 |a Innocent abroad |b: Belgium at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 |c/ by Sally Marks.

that is, if it had been handled as beginning punctuation as ISBD prescribes. Here you could just say that the 245b begins with a colon, and 245c begins with a slash, just as ISBD says. XSL stylesheets handle these sorts of details zillions of times every day. Of course, you would still have problems when 245b starts with a = when the “other title information” is actually a parallel title, but that is a more fundamental problem with MARC which lacks the level of semantic structure that exists in UNIMARC (200d for parallel title proper vs. 200e for other title information). Nevertheless, when handling punctuation as preceding punctuation instead of ending punctuation, even more complex examples such as:
260 __ |a London ; |a New York : |b I.B. Tauris ; |a New York : |b In the U.S. and Canada distributed by St. Martin’s Press, |c 2000.

becomes much easier.

I never have understood why MARC has always treated preceding punctuation as ending punctuation. Probably there were display problems in the early days. In spite of that, cataloging punctuation has always been meaningless to the public and we have listened to many jokes about it, but punctuation has been important to librarians, and especially to catalogers, to whom it is very important. To be honest, it could probably be done away with even for them with very little loss. It could probably be thrown overboard–even internal coding such as = and ; in the 245, separating everything with commas or periods, and there would be few problems–except perhaps for those institutions still printing cards.

Actually, it sounds a lot like computer coding, where the addition or absence of a single bit of “punctuation” breaks the entire program. Oops! Left out that semicolon in the javascript and nothing works!