I haven't made a phone call to someone to ask for dates or middle names in
many years, but I wouldn't hesitate to if I had the phone number and
couldn't find an email. I have called publishers (or state agencies) a
few times when I couldn't get a direct phone number. Mostly of course, I
use email. Even if the author's email isn't on their publication, it's
usually not difficult to find one for them on the Web, particularly those
at government agencies and academic institutions.
Like Bob Maxwell, I've never been turned down when I explain who I am,
what it is I'm cataloging of theirs, the fact that I need further
information to distinguish them from someone else with the same name (and
I confirm that they really are not the same person who wrote on the other
topic), and that the data will go into an international shared database
that libraries use. They are almost always forthcoming with a date
(sometimes just the year, sometimes the complete date, that's up to them)
and/or their full name. And it's surprising to me how many people DON'T
have middle names!
I almost always email back to thank them and point them to our OPAC to see
how their name now appears once I've finished cataloging their resource.
Like others have said, most authors are very happy to provide the
additional information. I can't remember anyone refusing to help, even
state agency employees (maybe Washington State employees have a different
attitude than New York State ones?).
Adam L. Schiff
University of Washington Libraries
Seattle, WA 98195-2900
(206) 685-8782 fax
[log in to unmask]
On Wed, 6 Aug 2008, Robert Maxwell wrote:
> I have approached authors by e-mail many many times asking for birth dates and/or middle names and have NEVER been turned down, and have never been accused of running a identity theft ring-even in New York :-) Most authors are flattered to know that their book is being cataloged in an international database and if you explain why you need the information, people are forthcoming. I usually explain that when we catalog a book (or whatever it is the person produced) we like to make access points in the record for names of all significant persons, but in order to do that the name must be unique (not identical to anyone else's already in the database). Then I say that there is unfortunately already another Jacob Smith in the database and so we need to make the person-I'm-writing's form different, and that we usually do this by adding a birth year or middle name. Most authors are familiar with the way names appear in library and other databases, and so this request is not thought inappropriate. At least nobody has refused to help me yet, much less got mad at me. So please do not hesitate to contact people for information.
> Robert L. Maxwell
> Head, Special Collections and Metadata Catalog Dept.
> 6728 Harold B. Lee Library
> Brigham Young University
> Provo, UT 84602
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Whitsitt, Kathleen S
> Sent: Wednesday, August 06, 2008 7:15 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Consulting the Collective wisdom (Levity)
> This kind of touches on an issue I've been wondering about. I am just
> now learning how to make NARs as a Texas NACO Funnel participant. I
> have not approached any authors for personal information as yet. I'm
> very hesitant to do so, and don't have a clue as to the best approach.
> Do you just introduce yourself as a PCC cataloger, and explain the need
> for additional personal information in bibliographic databases? And do
> people understand what any of that means? Do catalogers usually consult
> with the legal departments of their institutions for policy
> clarifications on requesting personal information from people this way?
> Personally, I would be very wary of anyone calling or emailing me for
> personal information, if I didn't fully understand why it was needed.
> It would be good to hear any guidelines or advise about that.
> Kathleen Whitsitt
> Authority Control Librarian
> Automated Library Services
> Lone Star College System
> 5000 Research Forest Drive
> The Woodlands, Texas 77381-4356
> 832.813.6614 (fax)
> [log in to unmask]