RDA-L RE: Re: When a new edition is treated as a new work

Posting to RDA-L

On 8/26/2014 3:54 PM, Benjamin A Abrahamse wrote:

While guidelines such as the ones LC has released are certainly helpful, I don’t think we will, or should, see RDA give a simple formulation that  “edition = {work|expression|manifestation}”. The word “edition” on a piece can mean many things, and it is the job of the cataloger to determine how it should be treated.

Ultimately, the question comes down to something very simple: do I add this particular item I am cataloging to this record, to that record, or do I make a new one? This is a matter of *definition* and has been interpreted by different agencies in different times in different ways. For instance, the venerable LCRI 1.0 seemed to be pretty clear (http://bit.ly/1qN47tF):
“anything in the following areas or elements of areas differs from one bibliographic record to another: title and statement of responsibility area, edition area, the extent statement of the physical description area, and series area.”

Of course, in turn there were various interpretations of the meaning of the word “anything”. I always interpreted it quite literally: anything, but others interpreted it in their own ways. I remember when LC changed the rule about plates, which in turn made a difference to rule 1.0.

Then there is ALA’s “Differences Between, Changes Within” (http://www.ala.org/alcts/resources/org/cat/differences p. 6, pdf p. 12) A5a:
“A different extent of item, including the specific material designation, indicating a significant difference in extent or in the nature of the resource is MAJOR. Minor variations due to bracketed or estimated information are MINOR. Variation or presence vs. absence of preliminary paging is MINOR. Use of an equivalent conventional term vs. a specific material designation is MINOR. For example:

  • 351 p. vs. 353 p. is MINOR
  • 452 p. vs. x, 452 p. is MINOR”

which is quite different from the LCRI. What does “significant” mean?

But yet one more very important consideration in this brave new world of linked data and where everything is supposed to work with everything else is: how do other non-library agencies deal with this issue of “edition/manifestation”? After all, shouldn’t we at least consider what these other organizations are doing, or do we just ignore them?

With books: Rare book cataloging (in libraries) may look at a specific book in a completely different way from regular cataloging. Antiquarian book dealers look at it differently from either. Publishers also have their own needs and look at things quite differently from all the others.

Museums look at things even more differently. For instance, consider a teapot. There is nothing really special about the teapot itself, who made the teapot or where or when; there may be hundreds or thousands of similar teapots. But this particular teapot was used by Bonnie Prince Charlie during the Jacobite uprising, which makes it special. http://www.dumgal.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=3646

I have cataloged different materials in diverse ways for different purposes using various rules. One thing I have learned is that before you begin cataloging, you must orient yourself: I am an AACR2 cataloger; I am an indexer using AGRIS rules; I am a rare book cataloger, etc. The item then looks quite different as you (re)orient yourself.

I was hoping that changes in cataloging would allow these kinds of traditional knotty questions to simply disappear. Today, it is very possible to catalog the thing in hand (that is, just copy what you see) and then let today’s very powerful software process your record as it will. In that way, the traditional question:

do I add this particular item I am cataloging to this record, to that record, or do I make a new one?

could change into one of how the software processes it: Software for purposes of rare books would process it one way; software for publishers’ needs would be processed in another; for library catalogs following LCRI1.0 in another, while other catalogs following ALA practices in yet another; software could follow other practices used in libraries around the world, and so on. I think this will be the reality no matter what we want as we enter the worlds of linked and open data as our cataloging information is taken, reformatted and repurposed, sliced and diced; and it is anybody’s guess what else will happen to it.

That is the world we need to consider, not our lonely, shrinking world of library catalogs; if nothing else because it is the world we are striving for (linked data). Our records must fit into the greater whole

There are many options today that can make our lives (and maybe everyone else’s) much easier.