Hello List colleagues,

 

I’ve written about the following issue before, and don’t wish to flog it; but because the PCC Series Policy Task Force is recommending (and SCS seems inclined to approve) something I think will be problematic, I bring it to you again during the comment period for the proposals on series policy.

 

On p. 53 of the Interim report, the Task Force recommends:

 

LC-PCC PS 6.3.1.3. PCC practice: Record form of work in all work-level series authority records using the 380 field.  At a minimum in all series authority records, include

 

380  $a Series (Publications) $2 lcsh

 

[the recommendation continues, but that is the gist of it.]  On pages 6-7 there is discussion of this.  An SCS comment says “Agree with the conclusion that multipart monographs and monographic series can both be considered series.”

 

Aside from the question of whether we should be required to hand-code information that could easily be supplied via automation (I believe routines will be written when the need grows more pressing; that work has already begun)—here are my concerns:

 

First:  380, Form of work, applies to Monographic series, but not to Multipart monographs and Other analyzable serials.  For them, the underlined parts of the definition for Series do not reliably apply:

 

     Series: A group of separate resources related to one another by the fact that each resource bears, in addition to its own title proper, a collective title applying to the group as a whole. 

 

Often a multipart monograph or a periodical will have some analyzable parts alongside others that do not bear the dual titles that identify a form of work as Series.  The non-analyzable parts do not present themselves as separate resources.

 

Second, while analysis of monographic series is essentially universal, analysis of multiparts and periodicals is a local decision.  Can a resource be a series for one institution, and not for another?  What do we mean by Form of the work—is it something intrinsic to the work, or can it apply/not apply according to local practices?  I’d say the former.  As one of my colleagues remarked today, before we require that Form of the work be assigned to an entire category of authority records, we should first clarify what we understand it to be.

 

Third, there is a fundamental difference between monographic series and the other kinds of resources that get MARC series treatment (490/8XX and an SAR).  With monographic series, the focus of bibliographic description is the individual part, while providing access to the comprehensive work (the series) is optional.  The opposite is true for multipart monographs and analyzable periodicals.  For them, the focus of bibliographic description is the comprehensive work, while providing access to the part(s) is optional.  We have become accustomed to calling them “series” because the 490/8XX + SAR treatment has been a practical method under MARC for managing the part/whole relationships at play.  This doesn’t mean their form of work is series.

 

Fourth, attributes like 380 are used to identify a work by distinguishing it from other works with the same or similar titles.  If applied to a multipart monograph or an analyzed periodical, it will introduce confusion by suggesting that this work differs from another one might recognize, when in reality it is the same as that other work.  For example, suppose an issue of Newsweek has a special title that I wished to analyze, so I make an SAR.  If it must have 380 Series (Publications) $2 lcsh, many will take that as a signal that my SAR is for another publication called Newsweek, not the familiar magazine.

 

Fifth, as we move into a more diverse bibliographic environment, the usual library-level of granularity in metadata creation is breaking down.  Now our descriptions of books co-exist with tables of contents, records for journal articles, photographs, online resources that contain within themselves other online resources, and so on.  If we code everything we analyze as being a Series, then the term quickly becomes useless.  It will be much more helpful, in the new environment, to talk about part/whole relationships.

 

Thanks much to those who responded when I raised these issues a while back.  For everyone else who wants to weigh in, now is the time, either here on the lists or in communication directly with SCS, as policy is a-making.

 

Mary Jane Cuneo

Serials cataloging and NACO

Information and Technical Services

Harvard Library