I mostly agree with Gary's point. I'd be happy to change any heading that
comes to the attention of any library at a user's prompting. I'd be happy
for LC to put a "Bring out your dead" button on its online catalog welcome
page where people could report on the expired.
But I'd regret seeing the adding of death dates (which is not the same
thing as responding to user requests) become valued more highly than
heading stability as a general principle within the cataloging community.
We have lots of authorities now which contain death dates in a 670 which
aren't in the open dated heading. If LC and NACO come to regard all of
those open dated headings as "erroneous" headings which it is "right" to
correct, we will be creating work for ourselves which no one is asking us
to do. If that becomes part of cataloger culture, then the restraint Gary
argues for on the part of "institutions with a good community
consciousness" will be undone by the the "institutions that care about
being accurate and correct." And in the midst of such an ideological split
with all the wasted double effort it will involve, we will be causing more
split files in the affected catalogs. Has anyone in this discussion yet
taken the position that split files won't result, or that split files are
less of an access problem than open dated headings for the departed?
When LC eventually updates this policy regardless of which way the decision
goes, I hope they will be clear about which side of this ideological fence
we should be working on.
At 11:07 AM 7/14/2005, you wrote:
>At 09:00 AM 7/14/2005, Stephen Hearn wrote:
>>And so on. While I agree with the value of adding death dates to headings
>>like Warhol and Sartre, I can't see adding death dates to names like the
>>above as doing us or anyone else much good.
>I must disagree with my esteemed colleague on this small point. The
>question of whether adding death dates will do us or anyone else any good
>has left the barn. If we allow the modification of headings simply to add
>death dates, then there's no way to restrict this to "useful" cases. Any
>library can determine that John Withywindle is an important person whom
>"everyone" at their institution knows to be dead, and proceed to change the
>I hope however that the eventual policy encompasses the possibility that an
>institution could add a 670 to an authority record giving a person's death
>date, without also *requiring* that the institution change the heading then
>or at any other time. So institutions with a good community consciousness
>can keep the authority record up to date and not require all other
>institutions to perform database maintenance that doesn't buy improved access.
>Gary L. Strawn, Authorities Librarian, etc.
>Northwestern University, 1970 Campus Drive, Evanston IL 60208-2300
>e-mail: [log in to unmask] voice: 847/491-2788 fax: 847/491-8306
>Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit.
Authority Control Coord./Database Mgmt. Section Head
Technical Services Dept.
University of Minnesota
160 Wilson Library Voice: 612-625-2328
309 19th Avenue South Fax: 612-625-3428
Minneapolis, MN 55455 E-mail: [log in to unmask]