Public information--what a person has published, what offices they've
held, what institutions they've been affiliated with, the dates of their
activities--all of that is fine in an authority, since it's already part
of the public record. I'd be OK with using a birth date published on a
book jacket, too, for the same reason. I've become less confident about
soliciting this kind of information from people who may not know all the
ramifications of releasing it.
More to the point--we could do our jobs more thoroughly and more
efficiently if we moved to a system of neutral distinguishing subfields
in our headings. Using some kind of number--say, LCCN or something
derived from it--as the distinguishing element could spare catalogers
from having to do tedious searching for the limited kinds of personal
details that we currently allow as name heading qualifiers. We could
always distinguish different identities with distinct headings, even
when we had no distinguishing birth date or middle name--no more
undifferentiated personal name authorities. As the FRAD principles get
implemented and more descriptive data gets incorporated as separate data
elements into authorities, we should be able to query authorities with
more than just searches on name headings, so the need to incorporate
data needed for selection into the heading itself should diminish.
This is a case where "more, better, faster, cheaper" might actually be
possible if we change our approach to resolving conflicts between
established headings. Meanwhile, I'm glad to see that we're creative
and considerate when seeking information to satisfy the current rules. I
just wish we were rattling the cage a bit more in the course of this
Louis Reith wrote:
> So, eventually catalogers will no longer be able to really identify anybody in their authority work? Another victim of our new obsession with security since 9/11 or a sign of the age to come = more information available than ever before, but with less and less accuracy (and hence, value)?
> Just thinking out loud as I contemplate returning to cataloging from my eastern Nebraska vacstion next week.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Gail Hueting <[log in to unmask]>
> Date: Wednesday, August 6, 2008 2:56 pm
> Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] privacy of birth dates
>> Newspapers usually only put full birth dates in obituaries, I
>> Other stories sometimes give the person's age. Presumably
>> theft is less of a problem after someone dies!
>> I remember doing authority work on the name of someone here on
>> and there was another person with the same name born in the same
>> The local person asked not to have her full birth date in the
>> record for just the reasons mentioned.
>> Gail Hueting
>> Principal Cataloger
>> University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library
>> [log in to unmask] ([log in to unmask] still works too)
>> A. Ralph Papakhian wrote:
>>> i have wondered about the presumed privacy of birth date
>> information.> does anyone know for sure (as in citing chapter and
>> verse of some law)?
>>> many newspapers regularly report birth information as a matter
>> of record,
>>> --ralph p.
>>> A. Ralph Papakhian, Indiana University Music Library
>>> Bloomington, IN 47405 812/855-2970 [log in to unmask]
>>> co-owner: [log in to unmask]
Authority Control Coordinator/Head, Database Management Section
Technical Services, University Libraries, University of Minnesota
160 Wilson Library
309 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Ph: 612-625-2328 / Fax: 612-625-3428