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PCCLIST  November 2007

PCCLIST November 2007

Subject:

Re: Is this $q really necessary?

From:

Michael Chopey <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Program for Cooperative Cataloging <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 3 Nov 2007 09:37:27 -1000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (103 lines)

Gary -- I've been doing some thinking about this recently, too. I agree wholeheartedly that for filing, dates are better disambiguators than fuller forms (or any of the other options for additions to names). And I also agree that it's not useful to add the fuller form when you are already breaking a conflict by adding the date. But I wouldn't object to adding a fuller form in q when no dates are available, and when a fuller form is available, and when the fuller form is "Lawrence E." for "Larry" or "Michael A." for "Mike" or "Edward M." for "Ted" or "James Earl" for "Jimmy," etc., if the alternative were to not disambiguate that name at all and instead have to add it to an undifferentiated name heading record. (And adding such fuller form wouldn't violate LCRI 22.18A if you could consider "Mike" an abbreviation of "Michael" or "Steve" an abbreviation of "Stephen" or "Ted" an abbreviation of "Edward," etc, which might be arguable inasmuchas there is no definition of "abbreviat
ion" in AACR or the RIs.)


Here are a few real-life DLC-created headings from our authority file where something other than initial followed by a full stop in $a was expanded to a fuller form in $q. I assume that the addition of the fuller form in every one of these cases was to break a conflict with an existing name heading (because each of the following includes unused forenames and/or initials in $q, which wouldn't be allowed under the optional part of 22.18A unless it were to break a conflict).


Potter, Ted ǂq (Edward W.)
Brake, Mike ǂq (Charles Michael)
Baldwin, Jack ǂq (John Thomas)
Barrett, Jack ǂq (John F.)
Brooks, Jack ǂq (John Roy)
Cahill, Jack ǂq (John Dennis)
Ford, Jack ǂq (John J.)
King, Larry ǂq (Lawrence E.)
Ward, Larry ǂq (Lawrence Edward)
Armstrong, Mike ǂq (Michael J.)



I guess it's hard to argue that "Jack" is an abbreviation of "John," since each has four letters :) ... but otherwise, these are good headings that are serving a good purpose in the file.  Much better to give "Edward W." as a fuller form of "Ted" and make it a unique heading than to add this Ted Potter to an undifferentiated name heading, I feel.  Certainly that was the spirit of AACR2 22.18A (which doesn't require there to be an initial or a full stop in subfield $a before you can add a fuller form) before the rule interpretation.


So, although I agree that a date should be the distinguisher when it is available, I think a fuller form should always be allowed when no date is available, and therefore I wouldn't mind if the clause in LCRI 22.18A that implies that that only initials or abbreviations with full stops after them are candidates for fuller forms were dropped or relaxed. 


My 2 cents.  

Thank you,
Mike Chopey


Michael A. Chopey
Head, Cataloging Dept.
University of Hawaii at Manoa Libraries
Hamilton 553
Honolulu, HI  96822

phone (808) 956-2753
fax (808) 956-5968



Gary L. Strawn wrote:

> When we have a personal name that conflicts with another heading, LCRI 22.17-22.20 tells us to add subfield $q if some part of the heading is an initial or other abbreviation and we have the full form for that initial or abbreviation. Note that both parts of this condition have to be fulfilled in order for us to add $q at this point: we not only have to know what the full name is, but we have to have an abbreviation or initial in subfield $a.
>
> (Although it's somewhat beside the point, I can't resist mentioning at the outset the careful use in the RI of the terms "initial" and "abbreviation." These term do not, I think, include shortened or familiar forms such as "Bill" or "Bea" or "Tom" or "Rudy" or "Greg" or "Steve", or nicknames such as "Bull" or "Red". For shortened or familiar forms, $q is not authorized by clause 1a of the rule interpretation.)
>
> If adding subfield $q giving the full form for an initial or abbreviation doesn't make the heading unique (or if we don't have full forms for abbreviations or initials, or if the name contains no abbreviations or initials), we add dates in $d if available. (I'm quite aware that under the separate LCRI 22.17, we will actually have already added dates to a new heading if they are available; but this if anything reinforces the point I want to make about 22.17-20, and $q in particular.)
>
> I have always assumed that this RI presents things in hierarchical fashion: you start at the top, and you stop as soon as the exercise of one of the possibilities produces a unique heading. Were this not the case (i.e., if we're supposed to apply all of the possibilities even where not needed), then there wouldn't be any need for the explicit instruction to add $q for abbreviation/initials and $d for dates when both are available.
>
> I'll throw in this aside for completeness and to avoid confusion: Later on in the rule interpretation, we're told that (if all of the above stuff has failed to produce a unique heading) we can add subfield $q for parts of the name not present in subfield $a even though abbreviations are not involved. But we would only do this, I hasten to emphasize, if the application of foregoing instructions has not already given us a unique heading. (The RI mentions yet other possibilities for disambiguating headings, which are beside the point of this diatribe.)
>
> There's a reason we shouldn't use $q unless necessary, although I have no way of knowing whether this reason was part of the design of the RI: it usually makes a better order. To illustrate, let's assume we have an existing, neatly-ordered file along these lines (I'm making up this example to protect the guilty; this list should be assumed to contain some things that represent 100 fields, and some that represent 400 fields; beside the point):
>
> Strawn, Robert, 1793-1872
> Strawn, Robert, 1915-
> Strawn, Robert, 1945
> Strawn, Robert, 1949-2003
> Strawn, Robert, 1951-
> Strawn, Robert, 1978
> Strawn, Robert A., 1936-
> Strawn, Robert B.
> Strawn, Robert C., 1947-
> Strawn, Robert Conrad, Mrs., 1895-1977
> <dozens more Robert Strawns here>
>
> So far, so lovely. Now we've got a new Robert Strawn, and at the time we're establishing the heading we know that his middle name is Michael, and that he was born in 1946. Applying LCRI 22.17-22.20 (or, to be more precise, not applying it, because in fact we've already added dates according to 22.17 so our heading is already unique), we will not add subfield $q, and we will end up with this heading, which falls very neatly into the above sequence:
>
> Strawn, Robert, 1946-
>
> If, on the other hand, we were to throw into the heading everything we know about the person even if not necessary, we would end up with this heading, which is going to end up at some point in the list (given current sorting regimes) that is probably less than helpful:
>
> Strawn, Robert (Robert Michael), 1946-
>
> (Warning: Don't even get me started on the sort order provided by the current group of library automation vendors.)
>
> So far, so clear, I hope. In the absence of an abbreviation/initial we don't use $q if we have $d, unless nothing else will serve to produce a unique heading; and that's for a good reason.
>
> A recent traversal through new LC/NACO records issued to date in 2007 turns up 284 cases of personal names that do not have a full stop in subfield $a (and are therefore assumed not to involve an abbreviation or initial) and contain both subfield $q and $d. (I didn't consider name/title headings in this tablulation. We're talking about name headings, so things with subject subdivisions don't come into the equation, either.) My working assumption is that these 284 personal name headings were constructed in error.
>
> To make things easier (on me if not on you), I concentrated on the 4 contributing institutions with 10 or more headings in the "likely error" pile; there were only 4 of these. (No, I'm not going to tell you who they are, although 2 might be obvious enough. The point here isn't to jump on any particular institution.) I'll call them A, B, C and D. I manually checked each of the likely errors for these four institutions against headings in the LC/NACO authority file. I found that a few instances of co-occurring $q and $d were in fact warranted by existing headings. (In other words, for a few of the "likely errors" we have two different people using the same basic name; these people were born in the same year but we do not have month and day of birth for either; and we know about some unused parts of name for one of them.) I removed these from my counts. (For institution A I discarded 3 reported potential errors; for institution D, I discarded 2; none discarded for B and C.)
>
> In the following tabulation, "contributed" records are: new personal name records with no subfield $t. What I'm trying to tease out is the ratio of erroneous headings to the total number of records created: the rate for this particular kind of error. (The count of errors doesn't include "likely errors" that turned out to be correct.)
>
> A: contributed 83,058 records, of which 76 are errors: error rate of 0.0915%
> B: contributed 346 records, of which 10 are errors: error rate of 2.89%
> C: contributed 957 records, of which 11 are errors: error rate of 1.149%
> D: contributed 23,505 records, of which 40 are errors: error rate of 0.1702%
>
> For these four institutions taken as a group, the average error rate is 0.127%. So one large contributor is doing a bit better than average, another large contributor is not doing quite so well, and the two smaller contributors are well above the average. My impression, from spot-checking headings for institutions with a smaller number of likely errors (including those produced by my own institution, I hasten to add) is--because of the substantial weight of the records generated by institution A--that the error rates for these would prove in most cases to be above the average as well.
>
> So, finally, I come to my point: could we please restrict the use of subfield $q to those cases where it is necessary and called for by the rules we're supposed to be following?
>
>
> Gary L. Strawn, Authorities Librarian, etc.
> Northwestern University Library, 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. BatchCat version: 2006.51.826
>

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