The MODS Editorial Committee is considering ways to change or enhance MODS to fix some of the problems with consistency that have been identified and to make it more compatible with the direction of the Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative (BIBFRAME) and RDA. One area of difficulty in the current and previous versions of MODS has been the originInfo element and its subelements. Problems that have been identified include the following:
1. Being able to specify a function within publisher.
In MODS the <publisher> element is used in a general way to incorporate distributor, producer, publisher and manufacturer. The specific function is useful and these are separate elements in RDA. Being able to specify a function could remedy this situation.
Note that the MODS-EC has already approved a change in MODS 3.5 to define a role attribute for originInfo to address the latter issue in the short term.
2. Name within publisher.
Allow for the ability to reuse the mods:name definition within originInfo for the name of a publisher/distributor/producer, etc. This would allow for a controlled form of name or URI with additional attributes and subelements, such as role, nameType, etc.
Places as subjects go under <subject><geographic>, but places under originInfo go under <place> and there is no way to indicate a controlled term. There is also the ability to provide <hierarchicalGeographic> under subject but not under originInfo/place. Here there is both the inconsistency and the inability to use a hierarchical place name that is related to the resource in another way than as subject.
4. originInfo as a container for unrelated elements.
Now originInfo includes place/publisher/dates, which need to be bound together, but it also includes some random elements that can stand alone. These include: edition, issuance and frequency. This is particularly troublesome when there are multiple instances of originInfo: do you repeat all the stand-alone elements with each originInfo or just one (and which one)?
There are a number of date types, e.g. dateIssued, dateCreated, dateValid, dateOther (with uncontrolled type attribute.), etc. These need to be accommodated.
The MODS Editorial Committee has been considering ways to remedy these problems if it were not bound by the restriction of keeping MODS backwards compatible with previous versions. The following details possible solutions:
1. OriginInfo as a container for various types of events related to the resource.
Replace originInfo with an element <providerEvent> to encompass the various functions of making the resource available, i.e. publication, distribution, production and manufacture. An eventType attribute would be defined to specify the type of event (which would replace the new role attribute being defined in v. 3.5).
2. Provider with same definition as mods:name.
A subelement, "<provider>" under providerEvent would carry the name of the publisher/distributor/producer/manufacturer and would use the same definition as mods:name.
providerEvent is repeated for different functions with the appropriate eventType.
Place would be a subelement within providerEvent. Geographic under subject is another area that needs to be cleaned up for various reasons (for instance, should hierarchicalGeographic really be a separate element or should it just be a different form of geographic and use the same element?). At a later date it will be considered whether to 1) change place under providerEvent to geographic, or 2) change geographic under subject to place, or 3) to keep place in providerEvent, but taking the same definition as <geographic> (i.e. that it can be a controlled form of name).
4. Unrelated elements. Take edition, issuance and frequency out of originInfo/providerEvent as separate top level elements.
Define <date> under providerEvent; the type of date is implicit in the eventType used. That is, if the eventType is "published" (or "issued"-- these have been considered synonymous) the date is publication, the provider is publisher, the place is place of publication. There are some stray dates that aren't associated with places and providers generally (i.e. dateValid). For those not related to an event, <date> can be defined at the top level and used with the type attribute (uncontrolled list). This construct will also be used for other types of dates that aren't associated with a provider event.
To accommodate the need for both transcription (how the resource presents itself) and access, there could be a subelement providerStatement under providerEvent for the transcribed form of the whole statement, i.e. place, provider, date.
The MODS Editorial Committee would like to hear comments on these proposed changes. They would be in a future major new version of MODS.
Chair, MODS Editorial Committee
Library of Congress