ACAT Complex NAR (Plato. Dialogues. Selections.English

Posting to Autocat

On 9/14/2015 10:33 PM, J. McRee Elrod wrote:
There is an RDA proposal before the JSC to discontinue collective uniform titles. They served a valid purpose in card catalogues, but in my NSHO only complicate OPAC hit lists.

Unless collective uniform titles are reworked to be more useful in the current environment, this makes sense. In card and printed catalogs, you didn’t have to understand these kinds of uniform titles because the items with a heading:
[name heading]. Works. [additions to the UT]

were the first records you would see after you found the person’s name, and after that came Selections. So, nobody had to actively search for the word “works” or “selections”–which nobody but a cataloger would ever think of.

To see how it worked in action, here is Aristotle in Panizzi’s catalog:

First, we see “Works” then “Two or more separate works” (our Selections) then separate works (non-alphabetical).

Compare this to how it works in our catalogs. If you want Twain’s works, you must search his heading: Twain, Mark, 1835-1910
which is hard enough today, then you must scroll through hundreds of headings such as:

Twain, Mark, 1835-1910. £1,000,000 bank-note
Twain, Mark, 1835-1910. 1601
Twain, Mark, 1835-1910. “1601”, or, Conversation as it was at the fireside in the time of the Tudors
Twain, Mark, 1835-1910. 1601, or, Sociall fireside conversation in ye time of ye Tudors Twain, Mark, 1835-1910. 5 novels
Twain, Mark, 1835-1910–Adaptations
Twain, Mark, 1835-1910. Adventuras de Tom Sawyer
Twain, Mark, 1835-1910. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

to get to titles with “S” so that you could find “Selections”. It would take even longer to get to “W” for “Works”. Nobody will ever do this, so we have to assume that people will actively add “works” or “selections” to their searches–which even our predecessors knew that no one will do. That’s why they brought them to the front.

In other words, in the printed catalogs, strict alphabetical order was ignored, “W” (Works) came first and then “S” (Selections) while in the computer catalog, everything is in strict alphabetical order.

To return to the distinction between “the collection of records that brings an author’s works together” and the “textual words” [heading] that describes that collection, I think that the gathering of an author’s “works” and “selections” can be very useful to a searcher but our mechanism to do that is clearly obsolete.

It should be either rethought or eliminated. Before just eliminating it though, I wish that somebody, somewhere would show this to members of the public so that we could get an idea of what they would prefer. It’s an example of something that catalogs can do but the Googles cannot. I think people would like “works” or “selections” if it actually worked today.