Can I appeal to the collective NACO/SACO memory/knowledge.

For NACO contributors, field 781 is currently marked as "optional" (DCM
Z1). As the LC guidelines for MARC 21 Authority Format put it:

"NACO participants may, at their own discretion, provide a 781 field in
Name authority records for geographic headings (151) when creating them for
the NACO authority file."

In those same guidelines, LC practice for names/series is marked simply and
unambiguously: "Do not use this field."

Conversely, 781 is a mandatory part of a SACO proposal.

I'm less interested in the discrepancy between use of 781 for names and
subjects than in the current state of affairs for US NAF.

What I can't remember is how and/or why this field, when it first started
to be employed in US NAF, was permitted to be optional for NACO and seems
never to have been implemented internally within LC. I'm sure there was
some discussion, but it's completely gone from my memory. The provision of
781s in all appropriate authority records would seem to me to be such a
fundamental step along the (admittedly long) path towards more complete
authority control of headings in our bibliographic records, that making its
inclusion in all new geographic authority records would seem to be a
no-brainer. And yet we don't do it. There must be a reason.

I should add, to anticipate those who might suggest there's "no point
because there's all those existing NARs which don't have it", that
automating the provision of 781s in the majority of these existing
geographic NARs, whilst a major project (not least in the redistribution of
so many records), is by no means impractical or impossible. In any case,
populating *new* records is surely the essential first step in this
process; devising a plan to deal with the backfile can follow later.

So, first things first. Why is 781 optional for NACO participants? Anyone
remember the discussions on this?

Only when we have a reasonable amount of data can we hope to persuade our
ILS vendors to develop the functionality to employ effectively that data.
Remember subfield v?


Hugh Taylor
Head, Collection Development and Description
Cambridge University Library
West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DR, England

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