On 6/25/15 4:40 PM, J. McRee Elrod wrote:
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Since a majority of works have only one expression and one
manifestation, how important is it to assign characteristics to a
particular level? Could that sorting out occur after there is an
additional expression and/or manifestation?

I made a mental note to get back to this, because I think it is an excellent question.

First, I was curious about this and asked a cataloger what was being done in RDA cataloging about work titles - were they being created for all cataloged items? The answer was that work titles are getting the same treatment that they always did: a work title (aka uniform title) is only created if it is different from the title proper. This refers to RDA cataloging in MARC. I don't know how direct cataloging in BIBFRAME or RDA handles work titles for those works that would not get a uniform title in AACR2.

Now, about creating work and instance (or work, expression and manifestation) for those items for which these are 1:1....

First, the numbers. We have ratios of works to manifestations from OCLC. Of course, OCLC is unique, so that doesn't tell us much about actual libraries. We have the studies done by Richard Smiraglia  [1] in the late 1990's on a large research library, a theological library, plus other studies he cites. We don't have any figures for public libraries, medium or small libraries.

These studies tell us about the ratio of (and I'll use Patrick Wilson's [2] term here) "bibliographic families" vs. singlets in collections, but they don't tell us about the ratio of singlets vs. new additions to bibliographic families in the items that cross a cataloger's desk in a given time. So we don't know what the ratio will be in the cataloging workflow, nor how it will affect that workflow in different libraries.

Mac asks (rightly), does it make sense to create separate work-level information for singlets, even though some of them will never become family members? My question is: How can we actually answer this question? Are there efficiencies for catalogers in not creating work-level information, or will that be taken care of by systems? Are there efficiencies for systems, either by having all bibliographic descriptions using the separately defined work graph, or by avoiding that "extra step" in search and display for the majority of resources?

I suspect that "sameness" will win out for technical reasons, but I still wonder what the best solution is for catalogers. While it makes sense to me that one would think in terms of: "have I provided all of the necessary work information?" does that add a burden to the cataloger for those singlets? Are the systems that are being designed alleviating that burden where they can?

[1] Smiraglia, Richard P. The Nature of “a Work”; Implications for the Organization of Knowledge. Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2001.
(Chapter 5 of the book summarizes other studies, including Vellucci on a music collection, which is an interesting special case. Of course, archives are another special case in the opposite direction.)
[2] Wilson, Patrick. Two Kinds of Power : An Essay on Bibliographical Control. University of California Publications: Librarianship. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1978.
Karen Coyle
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