RDA-L RE: RE: Re: RE: MARC 246 $b

Posting to RDA-L

On 7/9/2014 11:46 PM, Smith, Jay (LIB) wrote:


If people search on the title Normal people (in the title index), they will also see (if there are not too many intervening titles): Normal people a film about autism.

What people will NOT do is search on the title Film about autism.

Of course, very few people browse by author/title/subject any longer, and the vast majority of searches are keyword, especially since that is the default search of almost all catalogs today–because that is what users have demanded.

So, I think that people actually will search on “film about autism” as keyword and then the records will come up. What is important is that it is in the record for indexing and retrieval, but where it displays in an alphabetical browse is not really important any more–that is, if people are using computer software made later than 1975 or so. 🙂

When I was doing research into the history of catalogs, I remember how surprised I was to find that earlier catalogs almost never gave access through exact title. It was always by author (main entry) and if there were no author, or before the concept of corporate body (pre-Panizzi), these books were often thrown into a section called “Anonymous works” sometimes including pseudonymous works as well.

I found this puzzling since I, as a cataloger, considered the title of a book to be such a vital piece of information, but I remember speaking to a reference librarian about this, and her answer was: You think the exact title is important because you are a cataloger. Catalogers have the book in hand where they can see the exact title, and then want to look at the record, but nobody else wants to do that. If I or a user already has the book, why would we want to look at the catalog record? People need the catalog record to find the book, not the other way around, and if they already have the book, they no longer need the catalog record. And, if you don’t have the book, you can almost never remember the title exactly, but you do remember keywords. So, exact title access is primarily useful for catalogers but much less useful for others.

The title of “Robinson Crusoe” is “The life and strange surprizing adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, mariner.”

The only way I know that is because I have the book but in a printed catalog with left-anchored text browse (and without a uniform title), very few people would find “Robinson Crusoe” under “L”. I admit that keyword has lots of problems but has been a godsend. That is the primary way the public searches records and see them displayed, instead of left-anchored alphabetical browse lists. We need to keep that uppermost in our minds.