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MODS  March 2002

MODS March 2002

Subject:

Documentation and subject headings

From:

Geoff Mottram <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Metadata Object Description Schema List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 27 Mar 2002 11:07:52 -0500

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text/plain (46 lines)

Having read your announcement regarding the MINERVA project, I came across a
statement about how subject headings might be entered that made me realize
there is much about MODS I don't understand.  In your email you mention:

    "2.      MODS offers a lot of flexibility in terms of how specific you
want the
markup to be (e.g. you can subfield the elements of a subject heading or
just use an LCSH string). That will allow for different methods of input
depending upon the expertise of the person creating the record. It will
also serve us well as a preliminary catalog record if we can receive the
more detailed encoding."

I happen to disagree with you on this.  I don't see why a MODS record should
support both forms of a subject entry (as a single XML element with dashes
or as a series of XML elements without dashes).  If a user is capable of
typing in those double dashes, they can just as easily split out the subject
into sub-elements.  This is another example of MODS trying to make too many
people happy and the end result is a system that will be difficult for
machines to process when you are done.  MODS subjects should be required to
be sub-divided in cases where a user would have input dashes.

This brings me to a second point.  I believe I now know why you are getting
so little feedback on MODS and why I often have to drag myself to critique
it: because your MODS web site lacks a document like the MARC concise
formats to describe in English how each MODS element is applied.  Pouring
over the schema (and I suspect that many other subscribers to this list know
as little about XML schemas as I do) and example records is too much like
having to interpret ancient texts and trying to divine the author's intent.

For example, I missed entirely in my perusal of MODS that subjects can be
entered in one of two ways until you sent out the MINERVA announcement.
There is no documentation on how one would create subject heading fields and
it was only after I read your announcement and then checked some of the MODS
examples that I noticed subjects entered with dashes.

I suspect that there are many other issues in the MODS specification that
have been left unsaid.  There needs to be more than just a schema and some
examples.  MODS requires real documentation with guidelines for using and
applying each element and attribute.

Sincerely,

Geoff Mottram
Minaret Corp.
[log in to unmask]

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