RDA-L Re: Date from Preface

Posting to RDA-L

On 10/9/2014 8:31 AM, Heidrun Wiesenmüller wrote:

According to the logics of RDA, I think you have to put this date in square brackets. … But I’m not at all happy with all the bracketed years which we get for resources which only show copyright dates. I think it must be highly confusing for our users. Has anybody already experienced how user react to all these bracketed dates?

While I am 100% in favor of discovering how the public reacts to our records, I am also 99% positive that no one in the public would care one bit about brackets in the dates. It must be stated that the brackets are not input for the public, but for the sake of the poor, lonely, overworked and underpaid cataloger, to alert him or her to the fact that the date is not to be found in the usual places and therefore, they will have to work harder.

I would add that if you have any pity for your colleagues, when you find it in a place that is really hidden, such as buried in a preface, please make a note of it–adding the page numbers please!–so that your coworkers do not have to waste time trying to dig it out on their own. Again, the public doesn’t care, but other catalogers do. A lot.

I compare it to when I was talking with a mechanic once. I had noticed a strange little trapdoor in the side of my car. I asked the mechanic what it was, and he told me, “You don’t want to know. That’s there for me to do my work better and cheaper.” It’s the same thing with the cataloging methods such as brackets. The public doesn’t need to know and if they are interested, they can ask. They will probably find out that don’t want to know. But seeing it doesn’t disturb anything they do.

Yet, if we really are concerned about how the public views our records, how about one of these? http://lccn.loc.gov/2013033237 Here are some of the high points:

Uniform title: 41 (Nelson and Perry)
Related names:
Nelson, Michael, 1949- editor of compilation.
Perry, Barbara A. (Barbara Ann), 1956- editor of compilation.
Nelson, Michael, 1949- George Bush. Contains (work):
White Burkett Miller Center, sponsoring body.

Content type: text
Media type: unmediated
Carrier type: volume

Who understands that? Each of these points is much harder for anyone (including librarians!) to understand than a tiny pair of brackets. But everything went through nevertheless. Still, I haven’t heard of people rising up in arms about not understanding these kinds of records. Why? Because people have a tendency to ignore what they don’t understand.

I am all for finding out how the public relates to catalog records. It is long past time.