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PCCLIST  May 2011

PCCLIST May 2011

Subject:

Re: Comments on OpCo Document 1

From:

Chris Baer <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Wed, 4 May 2011 16:29:15 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (62 lines)

N-5: Yes, the guidance is helpful.  Note RDA 11.7 is a CORE element: Other 
designation associated with the corporate body is a core element for a 
body with a name that does not convey the idea of a corporate body.

Unwelcome as the news may be, the fact is that corporation law requires the name of a bona fide incorporated body to indicate unambiguously that it is not only a corporate body but a specific type of corporate body, i.e., all those inc's, ltd's, PLC's, S.A.'s, etc. that librarians are phobic about.  Anything else is not a legitimate corporate body but a brand name, trademark or logo, that is, it is intellectual property, not a legally created artificial person.  For example, you might buy a Stouffer's TV dinner and assume from the label that there is something called "Stouffer's (Firm)."  If you read the fine print, you will find an unambiguous statement that "Stouffer's" and other markings are the intellectual property of Societe des Produits Nestle, S.A., whose name form indicates that it is a corporation with transferrable shares created in a Romance language country.  For that matter, there is no such thing as "Nestle (Firm)" either.  "Nestle" is a trademarked property of the same company, the Swiss parent, and jointly of all the 100 or so subsidiaries incorporated in the various countries in which the multinational does business, most of which have "Nestle" as part of their names.  As this example shows, trademarks, brands and logos, like any property, can be bought, sold or rented and end up being owned by someone whose name has nothing to do with the original owner.  Also, nowadays, many logos are not for free-standing firms but for what used to be called departments or divisions, as in "DuPont Legal (A business unit of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company)," not "DuPont Legal (Firm)."  Frankly, it is "(Firm)" that is a bastard construction, foreign to actual corporate and legal usage, and which should be verboten.  Even with a construction like "Smith & Jones," the default meaning is a business partnership, and to some extent, what the partnership is actually for is of secondary concern.

Of course, there is a large class of corporate bodies that are self-constituted collectivities without independent legal standing, such as garage bands, gangs, vaudeville acts, and the like, and these should be qualified as to what they are.  A significant difference is that while such groups may produce artificial works or be the subjects of writers, they usually don't produce official archives, tax returns, wills, deeds, and the like.

There is also the odd notion that inanimate objects like ships and buildings are corporate bodies.  They are, in fact, property and as such, the owners get naming rights and may change them whenever it suits them.  In most cases the names of the owner and of the property have little or nothing in common, which would be clear if you ever examined, or better yet drew up and filed their primary documents.  There is a serious problem here in how such objects are classified.  For non-specialists, everything that floats may be a "ship," but in fact the universe of named ships is so large and with such duplication, the more precise the qualifier the better.  Having people of different background knowledge create such names in an ad hoc fashion leads to inconsistencies in categorization more troublesome than whether someone is an "actor" or "actors."

The bottom line is that a rule set that spends much time and effort in distinguishing different iterations of "Planet of the Apes" while having ill-formed conceptions of a large part of the economy and built environment, is not merely unhelpful in the accurate description of the archives of complex corporate bodies, families and certain classes of objects, it may in fact be of negative value, as if people were being led to believe that there are only four elements instead of 100+.  Such disconnects will probably increase as people try to apply library rules made for mass-produced cultural products to original, unique items not generally intended for public consumption.


N-10: Continue current practice in AACR2 of adding both dates and fuller 
form of initials when they are known.  Allow catalogers to use their 
judgment to apply the option to add a fuller form of name even if there is 
no need to distinguish between access points.  If not added to the access 
point, at least record it in the separate MARC field 378 once MARBI 
establishes it.

For us, the fullest form and date is often essential to rank related people in families or other groups.  This is usually more important to us, as keepers of family and corporate archives and institutional memories, than linking them to "works," since their principal works are not publications or performances.  Most of our users are not looking for author-title combinations and come equipped with knowledge of the larger universe outside publication, e.g. their ancestors or employers, by some form of direct experience.  Furthermore, knowing when a person is deceased often affects access and copyright issues regarding their papers, interviews, etc.


N-18: For Field of Activity (9.15) there is guidance needed on what type 
of noun to record.  For example, which is correct?: "Stamp collector" 
(which is what is currently in RDA as an example) or "Stamp collecting". 
That is, should the activity be recorded as a class of persons type term, 
which is what would be better to add as an addition to an access point, or 
as an actual "field of endeavour, area of expertise, etc., in which a 
person is engaged or was engaged"?  In other words, do the examples in RDA 
need to be revised.  Which of these two forms of access points would we 
want:

Lang, Peter $c (Stamp collector)
Lang, Peter $c (Stamp collecting)

I think the former rather than the latter, but in many of the test RDA 
records I was seeing terms that weren't for classes of persons.

If the first is not the obvious choice, heaven help us.


1) I think we should leave this to cataloger judgment, but for me the 
dividing line really is does the person make a living doing the thing or 
not?  If not, I would say that it belongs in Field of Activity.  If yes, 
then it's a Profession/Occupation.  In case of doubt, use judgment or code 
as Field of Activity.  2) Not opposed to this, if the JSC is willing. 
Again the key issue for me is what kind of noun to record - Stamp 
collector or Stamp collecting?  Astrologist or Astrology?  Cinematographer 
or Cinematography?  3) No, this is too narrow.  Many people are known 
primarily for things that they might not be paid for (e.g. political 
activists, amateur musicians, athletes, Biblical prophets <G>).

And what of the fact that people engage in many unrelated activities in the course of their lives.  For example, Crawford H. Greenewalt was DuPont's representative on the Manhattan Project, in addition to other large affairs, but he published on hummingbirds, which were his avocation.  Kenneth M. Murchison, an architect whose buildings are still used by thousands of people, is entered for a piece of sheet music.  Ross Winans, a prominent early 19th century inventor and patent-monger, is in the catalog for religious tracts he wrote in old age.  On the other hand, you have many people whose day job is uninteresting, as in the stay-at-home housewife who writes a family history or genealogy.  What of Bill Matons, once a promising dancer and choreographer, who apparently went underground for his political views and eventually resurfaced as the antiwar protester and eccentric street person "General Hershey Bar."  He actually self-published under the last name and kept his real identity secret from all but a few associates.  It seems as though this can open a bottomless pit.

The above opinions are my own and not those of my institution, although they do reflect the shortcomings of library methods for our collections and patrons, and I suspect, special collections in general.  As you might guess, I have never been to library school. I have worked as an architect and engineer, corporate consultant and historian and manage collections of the sort I created or appraised when working in the private sector.

Christopher T. Baer
Assistant Curator
Manuscripts & Archives
Hagley Museum and Library

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