I think library management systems are not yet capable of handling date
changes easily enough for this proposal to be feasible right now.  For
example, the system we are migrating to (ExLibris Aleph) has totally
inadequate authority control capabilities and will not improve them until
release 17.  Perhaps we should have this discussion again a few years from
now--providing of course that LMSs  follow OCLC's lead and inaugurate a
linked authorities capability.

Meanwhile, perhaps the national libraries would take it upon themselves to
close the dates of a very very few of their own prominent citizens--Ronald
Reagan or Lady Di, for example--and even fewer prominent international
persons, such as the Pope.  Perhaps PCC members could suggest names via
this list and then leave it up to the national library to act on the
suggestions or not.  Knowing how much time my staff spends on database
maintenance, I'm not sure I like this idea myself.  But I do know that
public services staff would like to see the deaths of prominent people
recorded in our headings.

Another crazy idea occurs to me: perhaps we should enter dates in a uniform
manner no matter whether a person was born more than 100 years ago or
not--that is, enter birth dates in the form of "b. 1968".  Such a form does
not look as incomplete as "1968- ".


Sue Wartzok
Head, Cataloging Department
Green Library
University Park Campus
Florida International University
Miami, Florida  33199
Phone:  (305) 348-6269
Fax:  (305) 348-1798