I would think the determination as to whether a detailed date represents an actual publication date versus a date of release or transmittal needs to be based on the type of material being cataloged. Government publications and technical reports have many instances of dates of release or transmittal that do not coincide with dates of publication, stated or inferred from other evidence. In some cases, a contractor or grant-recipient finishes some research and compiles a report which carries the date that the report was completed and/or transmitted to another agency. That agency might wait a year or two before actually publishing the report. This distinction between publication date and other kinds of dates can be important in terms of knowing whether new information on a topic was generally available. In a special library where I once worked we had some of the organization's attorneys come in at one point asking questions like that related to a lawsuit. The distinction does sometimes matter.
In that same former position I used to catalog transportation material, some of it published by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, sometimes issued more than once in different report series. I keep a few copies of these old reports around because they have been useful examples in cataloging training in the years since. As an example, OCLC record #11806360 for the title "The impact of changing women's roles on transportation needs and usage" has September 1983 prominently displayed on the cover and title page without any other dates, but the report number has DOT-I-85-01 which is a clue that this particular version was not published in 1983. There's also a GPO colophon date with 1984 in it. So, the bibliographic record ended up with a quoted note with "September 1983" but an inferred publication date of  based on the printing/manufacture information in the colophon, i.e., this version could not have been published in September 1983 if copies were not printed until 1984. And, apparently this item was the first report made available by the Department in 1985 hence the report numbering.
So, it's not so straightforward. Obviously, something like "published May 2013" represents a publication date, but other dates especially in government and technical reports presented in places other than foot of a title page should probably be viewed as more likely to be dates of release, transmittal, etc., as opposed to a publication date itself.
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From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Greta de Groat
Sent: Thursday, June 13, 2013 4:49 PM
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Subject: [PCCLIST] Fwd: Detailed dates in RDA
I have a question about detailed dates of publication vs. dates of transmittal. RDA 184.108.40.206 says to "record the date of publication" and gives an example of "May 2000." There is no relevant LC-PCC-PS relating to this example. Publication seem to be defined in 2.8.6.l as "a date associated with the publication, release, or issuing of a resource."
However the LC-PCC-PS for 2.20.7 says:
LC practice/PCC practice: If a date of release or transmittal is found on the resource and it is considered important for identification, record it in a note if it has not been recorded elsewhere in the bibliographic description (e.g., in the edition statement). Include the month and day, if present.
250 ## $a Version 1.0, Release Aug. '96.
500 ## $a "May 1979"
500 ## $a "May 1, 1979"
500 ## $a "Issued May 1979"
This is similar language to the old LCRI 2.7B which says:
"When a publication has a date of release or transmittal in a prominent position, include it in the bibliographic description. Typically these special dates consist of month or month and day as well as year and appear on the title page or cover. If the date is in a phrase that is being recorded as an edition statement, so record it. If an edition statement is not appropriate, quote the date in a note, including with it any associated words.
"May 1, 1979"
"Issued May 1979"
Note that a date of release or transmittal is not a publication date.
If the publication lacks a copyright date or a date of manufacture (cf.
LCRI 1.4F6), the publication date may be inferred from the date of release or transmittal. Then, give the inference in brackets in the publication, distribution, etc., area and follow the above instructions for the date of release or transmittal.
In case of doubt as to the character of the date, treat it as a date of release or transmittal."
So, the question is, how would we determine that a date on the title page which has a month or month and day is a date of transmittal rather than a publication date? Is it the mere presence of a month or month and day? If RDA considers "release" to be publication, is that why the "release" example was added (contrary to the old LCRI) to indicate that it should be an element associated with the edition statement in this case rather than either publication or a note? However, the "Issued May 1979" example was retained, which is puzzling if RDA considers "issued"
to be published." I'm not sure of the status of the term "posted",
which occurs often in online documents.
We have been given to understand that the PSD indicates that full publication dates must be transcribed (and so coded in MARC), though i cannot find this anywhere in the present documentation on the LC website. Between the current RDA rule and definition, the current LC-PCC-PS, and the prior history of the treatment of these dates (for which we simply gave a quoted note for a full date and inferred a year for the publication date, pretty much whatever the character of the date), can anyone offer any guidance on a practical means of distinguishing a dates of publication, issuing, release, and transmittal in terms of RDA cataloging?
Greta de Groat
Stanford University Libraries