I agree with Sherman Clarke et al. that a limited policy of adding dates to
prominent names would satisfy the majority of the complaints arising from
the current policy, and that opening the gates more widely for this
practice would set us up for maintaining lots of headings which have never
provoked a complaint from users. We'd have plenty to do fixing headings for
prominent names.

Since this proposal is apparently being driven mainly by user complaints,
and since we know that realistically it will result in an increase in the
number of split personal name headings in our catalogs (i.e., two different
entries for the same person), and since most catalogs I've used (ours
included) have a fair number of those already--I'm curious whether anyone
has ever received complaints about split headings? My guess is such
complaints are fairly rare, but that's just a guess. Lots of people
wouldn't recognize them, and I doubt that reporting a split heading can
beat the righteous zing that of informing a "know-it-all" librarian that
some open-dated notable is dead. On the other hand, the potential loss of
information and access for the user in the case of an unrecognized heading
split is surely greater; but as long as no one complains ...

I'd also like to raise an implementation issue which needs to be addressed
before the proposal can be adequately evaluated. How will the original
undated or partially dated form be preserved on the authority? Or will it?
For some systems, having the original form as a 400 reference would make
automated updating easier; for others, ensuring a continuous identity
between the person and the LCCN would suffice. Even for systems that could
use a 400, though, the thought of letting one's system or one's authority
vendor change less specific undated bib name headings to more specific
dated headings might give one pause, especially if the proposed updating
practice is allowed for all personal names. I really doubt that we'll want
to trust automated processes to handle all the authority issues that will
result from the proposed change.


Stephen Hearn
Authority Control Coord./Database Mgmt. Section Head
Technical Services Dept.
University of Minnesota
160 Wilson Library               Voice: 612-625-2328
309 19th Avenue South              Fax: 612-625-3428
Minneapolis, MN 55455      E-mail: [log in to unmask]