At 04:42 PM 7/5/2005, Judy Schneider wrote:
>I deeply resent the fact that such policy decisions are driven by the lack
>of capabilities in our technological tools. It is unconscionable that any
>library system vendor offers a product with a poor, or worse, no,
>authority control system. It is also unconscionable that any library
>system vendor would offer a product that doesn't allow for efficient
>global updating of headings. I belive that we must _demand_ (not ask
>nicely for) these capabilities from our vendors, and let them know with
>our dollars that we will not settle for less than what we need.
Since I wrote previously, I have learned more about Aleph's authority
control issues. First, it will not be until release 18 (2 to 3 years) that
the problems are even partially fixed. I'm sending out this additional
info because I know that there are quite a few large libraries using this
system--Harvard, Iowa, MIT, McGill, U. Minn. and Boston College--were
mentioned in a recent posting.
Here is a quote from another posting (I will leave it uncredited because I
don't want to get anyone into trouble):
"Authorities are linked to bib headings in Aleph. There is also a function
that automatically updates bib headings when the authority 1xx to which
they're linked changes, which works correctly probably 80-90% of the time.
The problem is when the linking and auto updating don't work,
results are odd and recovery can be difficult. Here are three
categories of bad actions:
1. A bib heading links to the incorrect authority ("England" as a personal
pseudonym vs. "England" as a geographic area).
2. A correct form is changed to an incorrect form via linking to a
4xx in the wrong authority ("Sin" the moral concept is changed to "China"
via the 4xx "Sin" in the China authority).
3. The heading that's correct in one thesaurus is changed to the heading
that's correct in another thesaurus, again via a 4xx linked to the wrong
authority ("Tumor" in a 650 0 is changed to "Neoplasms", the correct MeSH
term, via the 4xx "Tumor" in the MeSH record).
These problems stem from Aleph's assumption that all headings in all
authority records are unique. No 4xx is supposed to match a 1xx in the
same thesaurus or another. Each 4xx is supposed to be unique as well.
Think of how many authorities contain a 4xx for "ALA" or "MLA" and you'll
see where this assumption is big trouble. The Aleph linking examines only
the first character of the tag in the linking decision. It doesn't check
digits 2 & 3 or the bib indicators or the thesaurus code in the 008/11.
It also doesn't check the use codes. You can imagine all the places
linking (and automatic updating) can go wrong under the circumstances.
Because of all the problems, we load authority records with automatic
updating turned off. This is done by loading them with UPD set to N (for
"no") rather than Y.
Aleph version 18 contains major improvements to the linking logic. The
programs will examine the last two characters in the tag as part of the
process. It still won't take into account the thesaurus (008/11) or the
use codes, but this is major progress."
This info on corporate names and subject headings may appear tangential to
the discussion of dates in personal name headings. However, it is my
understanding that when authority changes are loaded, you can't set some
headings for automatic updating and other headings not for automatic
updating. We're not live on Aleph yet but, once we are, automatic updating
will be off.
I would love to be able to provide the public service that would result
from the PCC proposal. However, I think our policy decisions have to
continue to be driven by the lack of capabilities in our technological
tools. I would urge implementation of the proposal but not until
technology makes it practicable in another 3 to 5 years.
Head, Cataloging Department
University Park Campus
Florida International University
Miami, Florida 33199
Phone: (305) 348-6269
Fax: (305) 348-1798