Thanks to John and Ted for their great responses. Allow me to clarify my
Our current, accepted methods of disambiguating names (dates, fuller
forms, titles, etc.) are effective because they render a person(a)
unique in a quasi-empirical way, and thus show a high-level of
confidence in this assertion of uniqueness. Using contrived qualifiers
such as those based on field of activity or, more so, numerical
identifiers, may create distinct entities in a database, but it doesn't
convey the same level of confidence; one might be tempted to call this
"fiat" differentiation. Getting back to the perspective of the user, it
is debatable which is potentially more misleading: the representation of
multiple distinct identities, based on cataloger "fiat", where it later
turns out there is only one (or vice versa); or, representation of an
(as-temporarily-as-possible) undifferentiated entity. Authority control
is an inexact science, and these scenarios are the casualty of that
fact. The debate here comes down to which of these scenarios is the
"lesser of two evils."
By "minimizing future work", I was referring less to the mechanics of
generating and deleting NARs, and more to the intellectual work required
in situations where one must "second guess" the determinations and leaps
of judgment made by the previous cataloger. The undifferentiated NAR is,
to me, ideally a temporary staging area, not a convenient purgatory.
Thanks for reading,
Ted P Gemberling wrote:
> John Marr wrote:
> ||Some other questions need to be brought into this discussion, i.e. one might wonder what explicit and determining data caused a cataloger to assume ||that the conversion of a unique record into a non-unique record (for the same person!) was even necessary in the first place?
> There's really nothing mysterious about that. It's because the data we have at our disposal is often incomplete and ambiguous. As Richard was perhaps suggesting, the authors we catalog are sometimes "cave shadows," and we don't have unambiguous information on them until we run into it. The cataloger who "undifferentiated" that authority thought there was genuine doubt the works were authored by the same person, and then Casey ran into a source that proved they were. What could've been "explicit and determining" before that?
> I suppose this is something of a matter of priorities. I seem to be putting the burden of proof on those who accept two similar identities as the same, and John is putting it on those who think they may be different. Eventually, if we're doing a good job, we have to find the differences. But I suppose the question is how best to do that.
> I appreciated Stephen's explanation of the problem of shifting identities for undifferentiated headings.
> Ted Gemberling
> UAB Lister Hill Library
> So I guess my question would be:
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of john g marr
> Sent: Wednesday, June 02, 2010 2:31 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] a NACO question
> On Wed, 2 Jun 2010, Casey A Mullin wrote:
>> I very recently encountered an undifferentiated heading, representing
>> what were thought to be two people ... [but] . My there was really only
>> one person in question, and I was able to "fix" the NAR accordingly,
>> quick and painlessly. If two NARs had been established, using |c-style
>> qualifiers, this process would have been considerably more lengthy.
> Some other questions need to be brought into this discussion, i.e. one
> might wonder what explicit and determining data caused a cataloger to
> assume that the conversion of a unique record into a non-unique record (for
> the same person!) was even necessary in the first place?
> Also, are we analyzing mountains or quibbling over molehills? Instances
> of the sort Casey sites are extremely rare.
> In addition, the "copy [or cut] and paste" editing feature (of parts or
> whole records) makes "fixing" any NAR extremely simple. Of course, with
> merging records one does need to notify LC to delete one, but that's
> pretty painless compared to making sure all the coding of the
> "de-differentiated" record (e.g. Casey's example) has been changed.
> We also, apparently, still have a ways to go before we can universally
> accept the fact that the flexibility of the online environment actually
> encourages paying more attention to data corrections (no cards to refile!)
> and that cataloging to "get it right the first time" may be less important
> than contributing any data collaboratively in a gradual process to get to
> the point of completion eventually.
>> I believe undifferentiated NARs allow us to err on the side of caution,
>> and minimize future work.
> That could be true for catalogers (except that it mandates future work
> rather than minimizing it), but it does not help the patron at all.
> Also, the concept of exercising "caution" may more often be used as an
> excuse to avoid spending time ($) trying to make differentiations. If we
> were to stop differentiating at all unless it was really easy, where are
> we likely to end up?
> John G. Marr
> CDS, UL
> Univ. of New Mexico
> Albuquerque, NM 87131
> [log in to unmask]
> [log in to unmask]
> **There are only 2 kinds of thinking: "out of the box" and "outside
> the box."
> Opinions belong exclusively to the individuals expressing them, but
> sharing is permitted.
Casey A. Mullin
Discovery Metadata Librarian
Metadata Development Unit
Stanford University Libraries
[log in to unmask]
"Those who need structured and granular data and the precise retrieval that results from it to carry out research and scholarship may constitute an elite minority rather than most of the people of the world (sadly), but that talented and intelligent minority is an important one for the cultural and technological advancement of humanity. It is even possible that if we did a better job of providing access to such data, we might enable the enlargement of that minority."