Re: [RDA-L] RE: FW: : Dead man writing: spirit, fictitious person or

Posting to RDA-L

On 6/17/2014 5:23 PM, Moore, Richard wrote:

I agree, and would refer to

The data recording relationships between a resource and a person, family, or corporate body associated with that resource should reflect attributions of responsibility, whether these attributions are accurate or not. Attributions of responsibility can be found either in the resource itself or in reference sources.”

I wish somebody somewhere would ask the users and find out what they think about this. I suspect that only a tiny, miniscule percentage would say that they want catalogers to add information that everybody knows to be false. Does a searcher who is looking for the works of the real Walter Benjamin really want these types of works jumbled in the middle of it? Is that useful for the searcher? If so, what kind of searchers would want it? This sounds to me more like a Google search result, rather than one in a library catalog, and is an example of a power that we (or at least I) have always claimed makes the library catalog fundamentally different from searching a full-text, algorithm driven search engine, where you do see everything jumbled together.

Determining who were the real authors of specific works was one of the primary jobs of the scholars at the Library of Alexandria, so there is plenty of evidence that people want such information. Even when somebody in the 19th century claimed up and down and in and out that the spirit of Michael Faraday really and truly had taken over his or her body and written a new book, our predecessors considered it not to be the same as the historical Michael Faraday.

Yet, we–along with the users–are now supposed to believe that people who have been dead for over 60 years are still writing books, just as mice can; we are to pretend that Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, along with Santa Claus are all real people. Does this go for groups as well? I am thinking of “The protocols of the elders of Zion”. Are we supposed to catalog this as if it really was written by “The Elders of Zion”?

I don’t think that would make us very popular.

With the never-ending budget problems; with serious competition from automated algorithms with “automatic” cataloging, it is increasingly difficult to justify to non-library administrators that high-quality cataloging done by professional catalogers is a satisfactory ROI (return on investment). Librarians and catalogers have always been the butt of jokes, but putting in information that is demonstrably false and pretending that dead people are still writing books will only put us at greater risk of public ridicule and harm the entire profession.