This is an excellent exploration of this the problem, thanks very much.
Because of the nature of the Folger collections, how theaters are treated is hugely important to us. I was in error (thanks to Ted for the correction) when I said that none of our headings for Drury Lane were for the building. The link Ted posted was a picture of the theater building, which is obviously about the building and not about the organization. We treated it on our bib record as: 610 20 Drury Lane Theatre, ‡e depicted. We also have other documents, such as this manuscript, in which the building is clearly the subject: <http://shakespeare.folger.edu/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?BBID=221033>
We considered carefully the problem of organization/building, and while we understood that optimally there would be a recognizably-different heading for the building than for the organization, we weren't prepared to get in the muck and try to straighten it out.
Or possibly not optimal. Take this record, for example: <http://shakespeare.folger.edu/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?BBID=190290>. The blurring of Drury Lane as building and as organization works in our favor here; imagine the cataloger's trying to figure out whether the human organizational context or the location (building) of Kemble's performance takes precedence. All in all, though, we would prefer clear and separate headings for building and organization, and depend on policy for the cases when it's unclear or seems to be both.
Deborah J. Leslie, M.A., M.L.S. | Head of Cataloging, Folger Shakespeare Library
[log in to unmask] | 202.675-0369 | www.folger.edu
From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Chris Baer
Sent: Thursday, 20 September, 2012 13:34
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Drury Lane Theatre - and buildings in general
"Buildings" are established as corporate bodies. The rest is semantics (i.e. is the theatre in which a play is presented a responsible body or just standing there?-- it doesn't matter).
Actually it does in the archival world, because it is possible to have records of the building that have nothing to do with the workings of the operating organization, such as in the records of an architectural office or contractor, or records of the owning organization that have nothing to with the building itself, or which combine multiple properties or deal with other aspects of the owning organization's activities. We have all of these.
As someone who worked in an architectural and engineering office for some time, and even longer dealing with plans and construction documents for buildings, bridges, ships and other large constructions, I have to state that librarians conceptions of these things don't square with reality, that is the way they are actually conceived, constructed, owned and managed in the world at large, as opposed to how they are described for literary or promotional purposes.
Simply put, buildings, ships, etc., are NOT corporate bodies, they are chattels, inanimate objects pure and simple. They may at one time be built, owned or otherwise occupied by a corporate body whose name contains some of the elements of the name of the structure, but just as often not. Every such thing has an owner, and as property, it can be bought, sold, rented, held by tenants in common, and subject to any of the usual transactions concerning property. That owner is vested with naming rights (they are not vested in librarians, writers or passers-by), and changes in name usually convey changes in ownership, often accompanied by changes in function or appearance. Like most other formal transactions, these generate unique records that must be described on their own terms and in their own words.
Librarians can usually ignore these real-world complexities for a variety of reasons.
One is the use of metonymy in literary or colloquial parlance, whereas it has no place in official documents. This is especially common when persons or organizations are referred to by the name of the building they occupy, as in "the White House" for some unspecified member of the "Office of the President." In the Drury Lane case, it is not at all clear whether the name of the building is being used metonymically, but I suspect that it is. It is unclear who the owner is, but I would be surprised if there is a group of people whose official title is simply "Theatre Royal." More likely the owner would be a partnership of unnamed individuals or a board of trustees or managers. If I saw something like "The Managers and Company of the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane," I would know I was looking at the name of a pre-1850 corporate body, not a building. I will give more modern examples below. Likewise it is unclear if the theater name also implies a resident troupe of that name, or whether the owners mount their own productions or whether they merely rent their hall to impresarios who assemble and pay the actors, all practices common in modern theaters. So the theater name can stand metonymically for a wide variety of agents who, other than combining in a common performance for a limited time, have nothing to do with one another.
The second reason is that the typical library holding will be a synthetic work that typically treats the building and its various owners as an undifferentiated whole. A history of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel will combine treatments of both buildings, the old one on 5th Avenue and the present one on Park Avenue, and probably concentrate on their physical features instead of a catalog of all the owners. Publications issued by the owner are typically advertising and promotional pieces that emphasize the building, that is, the venue you are being enticed to patronize, not who owns it and is directing the promotion. We have lots of playbills, and they all give the name of the venue with no clue as to who the actual owner is. Even a telephone call to the theater revealed that the PR people who run the place had no idea of the name of the entity they were working for, only that of the venue they were being paid to promote.
A third reason is that it is mostly large buildings of long-standing importance, especially government and ecclesiastical buildings, that are the subject of monographs and guidebooks. Westminster Abbey is not about to be sold and redeveloped any time soon, and it is unlikely that anyone will change a name like Rockefeller Center that such established "brand" value. In such cases it is much easier to conflate structure and owner, especially when one is transcribing secondary and tertiary materials and not a legal instrument signed by the owner. But such cases are not the norm in the real world where things are always being bought, sold or inherited.
I thought there was a proposal to set up headings like this if someone actually wanted a heading for the building as opposed to the corporate body:
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane (Building : 1674-1791)
I was on a task force that recommended that, but I don't know if the proposal was accepted by LC.
It would be set up in the SAF but would probably still be a 110.
This would be used in cataloging a book specifically about that particular building. Some buildings have to be set up in the SAF because there is no corporate body with the same name. An example is the Empire State Building (New York, N.Y.). Also, there are a few cases of buildings that continue to have their original names after their original corporate body (and function) have ceased. The Claremont Theater in New York still has that name though it hasn't been a theater since 1933. It's established in the SAF as Claremont Theater Building (New York, N.Y.).
In fact there are corporate owners of the Empire State Building with similar names. The building was built by Empire State, Inc., which later acquired a subsidiary Empire State Corporation, formed so that some of the du Pont's could offload their investment in the original company without provoking a foreclosure sale of the building. It has passed through many owners since then, and the data base of the Delaware Division of Corporations shows a "Empire State Building Investment Co., Inc." incorporated on Aug, 22, 1991. We have records of the first two corporations and most of them deal with the financial and investment aspects and very little with the building itself.
Consider a more egregious example of muddling: n 50053842 "Rockefeller Center." That is the name of a building complex. The original builder and owner was "Rockefeller Center, Inc.," (similar to the 410) which had an earlier name, when the project was intended to be the home of the Metropolitan Opera. It was controlled by the Rockefeller family and held other family investments in addition to the buildings. This company is defunct, and the buildings have passed through a succession of non-Rockefeller owners, most of which have names that include the words "Rockefeller Center." The New York State Division of Corporations data base (which does not contain defunct companies) indicates a new "Rockefeller Center, Inc." that has nothing to do with the earlier one, incorporated April 20, 1982 as "Rock-Prop, Inc.," renamed Rockefeller Group, Inc.," on June 8, 1983, and renamed "Rockefeller Center, Inc." on April 13, 1984; also a "Rockefeller Center Management Corporation," incorporated on May 4, 1982 as "Rock-Convent, Inc.," renamed "Rock-75 Plaza, Inc.," on Oct. 18, 1985, and "Rockefeller Center Management Corporation" on Dec. 31, 1999. So the record as drawn not only conflates an object with its owner, but also a number of unrelated corporate bodies.
The librarians' taboo on marks of incorporation is practically a recipe for confusing objects with actors and entities with similar names that may or may not be related and serves as a generator of false and/or misleading descriptions. Those words are the diplomatic clues as to whether something is an artificial person or a thing and also to its structure and the jurisdiction in which it is domiciled and which it reports to. Corporate nomenclature is rooted in statutory law, and has rules at least as precise as those governing Mongolian clan names and other things discussed on this list, not to mention being more integral to modern industrial and commercial societies. Again, we have records of Rockefeller Center, Inc. (I) that have little to do with the buildings and photos of the buildings that have little to do with the corporation. The existing heading "works" as long as all you have are undifferentiated promotional materials about the buildings, not archival records of one of the many entities, or if you want to construct an accurate account of corporate succession, as in a brief of title.
Treating the names of buildings and other large manufactured objects under the rules for subject headings creates a number of other problems, particularly when dealing with commercial properties that change hands frequently. This means that the latest name of a building is used. In fact, the most definitive and precise documentation of a building lies in its design and construction documents, including drawings, specifications, construction photographs and the like. The name it was conceived and executed under is its first name, not its last, and this is the name that will be on its documents of origin.
For example, we have the archive of the Strawbridge & Clothier department store chain, located in the Philadelphia region, including documentation on all its stores. The firm is now defunct, and its flagship store is awaiting adaptive reuse, while some of the others have passed to new owners and have been "rebranded" as "Macy's." The same thing happened to the flagship John Wanamaker's store in Philadelphia, which was also briefly under the "Lord & Taylor" brand. It would be frankly absurd to describe the drawings and photos of "Strawbridge & Clothier Department Store (Ardmore, Pa.)," which have the Strawbridge & Clothier name all over them, as something like "Macy's (Department store : Ardmore, Pa.)," since they date from a time when R.H. Macy & Company, Inc., was confined to New York City. It would be much more egregious to do the same for Wanamaker's, which John Wanamaker commissioned from Daniel H. Burnham as his personal monument and where his office was maintained as a shrine until the firm folded.
A similar example involves the archives of the interior designer William Pahlmann whose commissions included a suite of restaurants around the perimeter of the lobby of 1959 Pan Am Building in New York that were an integral part of the overall design. The Pan Am Building was renamed the MetLife Building, but at least some of the Pahlmann restaurants did not survive that long, so they were never in anything called the MetLife Building. In the same way, our complete design and construction documents for the landmark PSFS Building in Philadelphia are not the drawings of the Loew's Hotel which it later became. Its branch buildings, also documented, have been purchased by several other banking chains. My impression is that architecutural historians refer to buildings by their first name, the ones they were designed under; the same with notable houses, even though the owners who commissioned them are long deceased, and they are occupied by unrelated people. Maritime historians usually list all earlier or later names of a vessel, and often its official registry number, in parentheses when first mentioning it.
The other difficulty with treating the names of buildings as part of the SAF file is the longer process needed for other libraries to contribute to it, and the need to have the term vetted at LC. I recently tried to flesh out the entry for "Harry S. Truman Federal Office Building," giving its earlier names, since Pahlmann decorated a suite of rooms when it was just the Department of State Building, but could not modify the record. Frankly, for a small shop like ours, it is too much time and trouble. I don't need someone else having to rule on whether it is OK to have entries to differentiate eight or so Strawbridge & Clothier Department stores or designate about 50 du Pont family mansions, when that is what our collections obviously require, and nobody else might need them. It is more cost effective to create or modify records locally, since our local catalog is our catalog of record.
As a point to consider, it might make more sense to differentiate between common nouns, which need a centrally-controlled vocabulary, and proper nouns, including named artifacts and branded merchandise, which are much more likely to vary widely from repository to repository and may never be found in LC or similar large library systems or places with the resources to be big-time NACO contributors.
I would expect issues of this sort to increase as a system that was acutally designed to accommodate mass-produced and marketed goods is expected to cope with unique items of high specificity, such as photographs, individual patents, design drawings, legal documents and the like, to which people refer for equally specific, usually non-literary or non-academic, uses. In such cases, when one needs drawings of the 20th century Waldorf-Astoria, neither the 19th century version nor a secondary source will do.
Christopher T. Baer
Manuscripts & Archives
Hagley Museum and Library
P.O. Box 3630
Greenville, DE 19807-0630
From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of john g marr
Sent: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 8:10 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Drury Lane Theatre
On Wed, 19 Sep 2012, Ted P Gemberling wrote:
> In that case, "Theatre Royal, Bridges Street" (or Brydges Street)
> should be the 110 of nb2012012255.
But that's based on an 1800 playbill, which makes it the only correct record. The reference to the Brydges Street name is just a historical note.
OTOH, record n50043073 gives "Theatre Royal, Brydges Street" as a cross-reference to its heading "Drury Lane Theatre (London, England)"
which can't be correct. Since it is based on an 1806 playbill, it should be deleted altogether and the heading be added to nb2012012255 as a cross-reference.
Now, if someone really needs to distinguish between the three "Theatres Royal, Drury Lane", why not use date qualifiers [i.e. (1674), (1794) and (1812)]?
> one title in OCLC that includes it as "Theatre Royal, in
> Bridges-Street, Covent-Garden" ... dated 1704. Of course that's after
> Theatre Royal Drury Lane supposedly opened in 1674.
I found several more dated 1824. You could consider those all publisher's idiosyncrasies, countered by hundreds of other OCLC records citing Drury Lane for the same time period (e.g. 27 from 1704, 68 for 1824).
Then of course there was the rather generically-named "Covent Garden Theatre" [considering that Drury Lane is in Covent Garden], aka. "Theatre Royal, Covent Garden" [later becoming the "Royal Italian Opera (London, England)"].
John G. Marr
Univ. of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131
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