Thanks for spending some quality time with ISO 8601! It appears that
they aren't thinking *quite* as historically as we are. I wonder if
if Michael (or Lisa) thinks they're interested in tackling this
I see a couple of avenues to explore: first, as Bill says, I could adopt
a local practice (e.g., adding a minus sign to the normalized date) in
hopes of converting this globally if a solution is found. LC isn't
processing the dates at present--if anyone else is grabbing our finding
aids and processing the dates, they might a nasty shock if the number of
characters exceeds what's expected).
Since I first wrote, I checked the MARC21 documentation to see how BCE
dates are handled in the fixed field (008) of a cataloging record. An
option in coding "date type" is
b - No dates given; B.C. date involved
Each character position in fields 008/07-10 and 008/11-14 contains a blank
Following this model, I'd omit normalization for my series that's entirely
BCE. For my collection-level inclusive dates, I can't do that: ISO 8601
precludes 0000, might try the minus situation here.
Here's another wrinkle: for <date> and <unitdate> in EAD, the default
value for the new attribute ERA is "CE" for common era; perhaps I should
encode the attribute "BCE" for my series dates and enter positive
numbers in the normalization for them; but it doesn't
help with my high-level dates.
It's a trivial dilemma, in a way--I don't know if I'll run into
this situation again, or if others will. But, it's kind of fun in a geeky
sort of way. I will continue to take suggestions on how to render the
Regarding the BC/BCE nomenclature, the Chicago Manual of Style (15th
ed.) cheerfully accepts either set of initials. I have no clear preference
myself and am not actively seeking advise in *that* matter.
On Fri, 16 Apr 2004, Bill Landis wrote:
> Interesting discussion on the politically correct usage of dates, but I think Mary's question had more to do with ISO 8601, the ISO standard for representation of dates and times (http://www.iso.ch/iso/en/prods-services/popstds/datesandtime.html). Very useful for eliminating ambiguities when one wants to machine-process dates to create tools like a searchable index of dates. Sadly, from what I can see on the best sites on ISO 8601 that Google picks up, Mary has discovered a gap in the ISO rules for dates. I don't see anything about normalizing dates that precede the year 0 on the Gregorian calendar. If I'm just not missing something, it seems that the ISO folks were not thinking about the description of really old historical materials. Mary, maybe this is a good question for LC or SAA (through TSDS) to send up the flag pole to ISO? Two people who it might be good to strategize with about this are Michael Fox (SAA representative to ICA Committee on Descriptive Standards) and Lisa Weber (SAA representative to NISO).
> As far as encoding your own <unitdate> NORMAL attributes, it seems like any standard way that LC does it should be fine. I guess it all depends on whether your current system is going to do anything with the indexing of those dates. If they're all normalized consistently, it should be pretty easy to change them if ISO ever does extend 8601 to deal with dates other than the Gregorian calendar. Could you just put a minus sign in front of the year (-0052, for 52 BCE)?
> [log in to unmask] wrote:
> > It may be "post-colonialist," but the date is still based on the birth of
> > Christ.
> > Alex Pezzati
> > Archivist
> > University of Pennsylvania Museum
> > Quoting "O'Neill, Ken" <[log in to unmask]>:
> > > The generally accepted, post-colonialist standard is B.C.E - before the
> > > common era.
> > >
> > > Ken O'Neill, MA
> > > Program Coordinator
> > > University of Arizona Library Special Collections
> > > 520.621.4300
> > >
> > > "To live is to fly
> > > low and high
> > > so shake the dust off of your wings
> > > and the sleep out of your eyes"
> > > -Townes van Zandt
> > >
> > > "The opinions or statements expressed herein are my own and should not be
> > > taken as a position, opinion,or endorsement of the University of Arizona."
> > >
> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From: Mary Lacy [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> > > Sent: Thursday, April 15, 2004 12:34 PM
> > > To: [log in to unmask]
> > > Subject: Date normalization for B.C.?
> > >
> > > All,
> > > Is it possible to normalize pre-Christian era dates using ISO
> > > 8601? I've got a series consisting of artifacts ca. 6th century-1st
> > > century B.C. The standard
> > > (http://xml.coverpages.org/ISO-FDIS-8601.pdf) is designed
> > > for use with the Gregorian calendar, and cautions about its use for dates
> > > preceding 1582.
> > >
> > > Any advice on encoding my <unitdate> would be appreciated!
> > >
> > > Mary Lacy
> > > Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
> > > (202)707-8799 fax (202)707-6336
> > > [log in to unmask]
> > > **usual disclaimers apply**
> > >
> | Bill Landis
> | Manuscripts Librarian, Special Collections and Archives
> | The UCI Libraries, University of California
> | P.O. Box 19557, Irvine, CA 92623-9557
> | 949 824.3113 Voice | 949 824.2472 Fax
> | [log in to unmask]
Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
(202)707-8799 fax (202)707-6336
[log in to unmask]