(I am resending this message to the list, since it looks like it was
initially rejected. Please forgive any duplication if it did get through
the first time.)
I proposed to the Autocat list some years ago the idea of using "b. 1905"
instead of "1905- ". This was partially because open dates are confusing to
users (both patrons and reference librarians) and also because with the advent
of the 21st century it seemed at least that we should change the parameters on
when to leave dates open (as persons born in 1900 were perhaps not quite so
likely to be still alive as they were when LCRI 22.17 was first devised).
But the idea proved very unpopular at the time. I don't remember quite why,
except for the one concrete problem of filing in library opacs (the "b." and
the "d." used with dates get filed as letters, so the dates don't get filed
properly in chronological order with other dates). People at the time, in fact,
were proposing to close out people with death dates, claiming that the database
maintenance would not be that bad, even envisioning monitoring obituaries, etc.
Which I think just sounds like *way* too much work (and it would be too
difficult to justify the time-consuming effort).
Diana Brooking (206) 543-8405
Cataloging Librarian (206) 685-8782 fax
Suzzallo Library [log in to unmask]
University of Washington
Seattle WA 98195-2900
On Fri, 1 Jul 2005, Sue wrote:
> I think library management systems are not yet capable of handling date
> changes easily enough for this proposal to be feasible right now. For
> example, the system we are migrating to (ExLibris Aleph) has totally
> inadequate authority control capabilities and will not improve them until
> release 17. Perhaps we should have this discussion again a few years from
> now--providing of course that LMSs follow OCLC's lead and inaugurate a
> linked authorities capability.
> Meanwhile, perhaps the national libraries would take it upon themselves to
> close the dates of a very very few of their own prominent citizens--Ronald
> Reagan or Lady Di, for example--and even fewer prominent international
> persons, such as the Pope. Perhaps PCC members could suggest names via
> this list and then leave it up to the national library to act on the
> suggestions or not. Knowing how much time my staff spends on database
> maintenance, I'm not sure I like this idea myself. But I do know that
> public services staff would like to see the deaths of prominent people
> recorded in our headings.
> Another crazy idea occurs to me: perhaps we should enter dates in a uniform
> manner no matter whether a person was born more than 100 years ago or
> not--that is, enter birth dates in the form of "b. 1968". Such a form does
> not look as incomplete as "1968- ".
> Sue Wartzok
> Head, Cataloging Department
> Green Library
> University Park Campus
> Florida International University
> Miami, Florida 33199
> Phone: (305) 348-6269
> Fax: (305) 348-1798