I discussed the issue with people at
the Bibliothèque nationale de France and we think that approving the request
is a good thing. This simplifies the data processing and the interoperability
between the different databases. Anila
Anila Angjeli Bibliothèque nationale de France Département Information bibliographique et numérique (IBN) F-75706 Paris cedex 13 tel. 33.(0)1.5379.5395 @ [log in to unmask]
The Library of Congress received an official request
to change the ISO 639-2 bibliographic codes for Serbian and Croatian to the terminology codes, i.e. srp and hrv. Of course, this is not the first time this has happened, but this time it is a letter that was delivered by the director of the National Library of Serbia and signed by both him and the director of the National Library of Croatia as well as both country's standards institutes. Arguments are the usual. I only have a printed copy of the letter and could scan it if necessary. But I will summarize.
They start by saying that scr was based on "Serbo-Croatian-Roman"
and scc on "Serbo-Croatian-Cyrillic" and that these have not changed
Excerpted from the letter:
"Main reasons for our request are:
1. The official language in the Republic of Croatia is CROATIAN-HRVATSKI in the vernacular. The official language in the Republic of Serbia is SERBIAN-SRPSKI in the vernacular.
2. The language names and the 2-letter codes for Croatian (hr) and for Serbian (sr) were already included in the first edition of the international standard for codes for the representation of names of languages ISO 639:1988.
3. We propose hrv as the 3-letter code for Croatian and srp for Serbian for bibliographic and terminological purposes (they have already been defined for terminological purposes in ISO 639-2-- the usage of one code for both purposes would be much simpler and unambiguous).
4. Our proposal is based on the fact that according to the ISO 639-2, the first criteria for selecting the language code is the preference of country using the language (Clause 4.1).
5. The language codes have also to be derived from the language name-- CROATIAN or HRVATSKI and SERBIAN or SRPSKI (Clause 4.1).
6. The language code hrv for Croatian would not be in contradiction with the codes for the representation of names of countries (ISO 3166-1:1997: CROATIA--hr).
7. The code hrv has already been used in library and information community in Croatia (e.g. the online bibliographic database of the National and University Library in Zagreb)."
They continue to say that it will improve their databases and enable effective exchange of records between their countries and catalogs.
My initial response (before the visit) was that they could use the 639-2/T codes by agreement between their countries (which they are doing anyway), but that our large bibliographic databases would be adversely affected
by changing these codes.
That of course wasn't an adequate response.
We have discussed the situation with people here at LC, with OCLC and a few research libraries that have large Cyrillic collections. OCLC has 73,000 records with the code scc and 115,000 with scr. Since there are tools to convert these and it is a one-to-one match, we and those with whom we have consulted felt that we could honor their request.
The question of course is precedent that we would set. How many other countries may ask for the same? In this case we would retire the 639-2/B code in favor of the T code, which of course is easier to rationalize than introducing a totally new code (for instance, if the Spanish countries asked for "esp").
We do say in the standard that considerations include usage in bibliographic databases and the codes are only to be changed for "compelling reasons".
I don't believe these people will ever leave us alone or accept any of
our arguments, so in this case, I am inclined to give in. But certainly the JAC should weigh in here.
We need to make a decision very soon-- the request came in the beginning of April and we are starting to get some pressure.
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