I little editorializing on my (perhaps overzealous) use of the word “arbitrary”:

 

In most cases, the rules allow us to construct access points that make sense to users, but with common names and obscure authors, the “character strings” become practical constructs rather than ideal labels.  “Active” dates are used when searching all that data available on the Internet turns up nothing better. Though a birth date may eventually surface, it is clearly known to very few, and so the modification of the authorized access point benefits very few, while it potentially creates work for many.  An authorized access point such as “Smith, John, active 1926” serves to segregate the work of an obscure person with that name from that of others with the same name.  People who actually know the work of that one person may also know the title(s). 

 

Others have pointed out that current rules do not allow this particular change. But rules evolve and are not always followed. (In this community, “breaking” the rules is much more often accidental than deliberate; their elaborate nature makes it very hard to follow them in all cases). This discussion is bigger than the question of “active” dates. My point is that changes to authority records should not be just to make the LCNAF “better” but also to make bibliographic records “better.”  In this imperfect, pre-linked data world, the two aims are not as closely linked as they should be.

 

In thinking about what changes to make to authorized access points, it would be good to have more data about what changes users request.  I believe the users that most often make these requests are the authors themselves, and LC/PCC practice is to honor those  requests.  Good.  Most online catalogs have some sort of “report errors” or “feedback” button.  At Duke, feedback thus received (or given to public services staff, or to the head of Cataloging and Metadata Services), comes to a mailing list of technical services staff.  I don’t have statistics, but in the seven years that the list has been in existence, we have gotten very few requests to change access points.  We have been informed that we have confused one author for another, and that there are typos and misspellings in access points.   We are usually able to address these issues without modifying 1XX fields ARs, but sometimes we have corrected real errors.  I would be willing to bet that changes suggested by users are a VERY small percentage of the changes made to the LCNAF, and that most of the changes made would baffle users.

 

From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Stephen Hearn
Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2015 3:39 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Changing "active" date to full dates?

 

I agree with Amy on this one. In the linked data paradise over yonder, there will be better and richer exposure of identifying metadata for personal names than anything we get now from authorized access points, and that richness will offset most ambiguities in individual data points.  

 

I also agree that BFM is still an issue. But in the linked data paradise over yonder ...

 

Stephen

 

On Wed, Sep 23, 2015 at 1:54 PM, Ted P Gemberling <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Amy wrote:
"Until linked data, headings are arbitrary constructs to keep works collocated."

I think you're overdoing the arbitrariness. If an active date is just one year off, this creates no problems. But if it is a few years off, patrons may question whether it is the right person. The text string needs to be plausible to users, who frequently know more about an author than catalogers know.

I suppose this is a problem with active dates in general. So much depends on which resources happen to have been cataloged at present. Including "approximately" before the dates helps some, but if the discrepancy is more than several years, even that may not be satisfactory.

I wonder if we could hire history graduate students to do bibliographic file maintenance. I did that some when I was in history graduate school at Indiana University. They gave me a list of headings to look up and fix in the catalog. I was paid the minimum wage. This shouldn't have to be a real expensive thing for libraries.

Ted Gemberling
UAB Lister Hill Library



-----Original Message-----
From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Amy Turner
Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2015 1:12 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Changing "active" date to full dates?

And my responses to your responses follow.

-----Original Message-----
From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Laurence S. Creider
Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2015 1:47 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Changing "active" date to full dates?

Good points, my responses are interpolated.

Larry
--
Laurence S. Creider
Head, Archives and Special Collections Dept.
University Library
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, NM  88003
Work: 575-646-4756
Fax: 575-646-7477
[log in to unmask]

On Wed, September 23, 2015 11:31 am, Amy Turner wrote:
> I can offer three reasons for not making this sort of change:
>
>
> 1)      Looking forward to the linked data environment, when it is
> identifying an entity that is important, not the exact character string.
>
>>Where does one draw the line?  Misspellings should be changed, incorrect dates, what?

I'd like to leave this up to individual discretion, with encouragement to leave the heading as is. But if some catalogers like to keep getting headings more and more accurate while others want to leave well enough alone, no harm will be done by the two methods coexisting (except possibly the harm described in point 3 below).

> 2)      Putting more priority on creating new authority records than on
> maintaining new ones.  I’d like to say to catalogers who “want to
> do the work,† that I don’t want to stop you, just to point out
> that those who don’t make that choice are probably not using time
> saved to get  off work early and have a beer, but rather dealing with
> expanding workloads and ever-diminishing staff.  A lot of time goes
> into not just making these changes, but discussing whether or not to
> make them. I prefer to correct headings on existing authority records
> only when there is a clear error that I believe hampers access.
>
>>An "active" date calls out for update because it does happen that one discovers something created and first manifested outside the dates.  If one runs across >>a correct date (as opposed to searching for a date), I am in favor of changing the one heading.  With linked data, such changes should become easier and less >>labor intensive.

Debatable.  I think that if a person has been described as "active 1922" (commonly done when only one work is known) the discovery of a second work a few year later does not make the established AR wrong.  Until linked data, headings are arbitrary constructs to keep works collocated.   After linked data (if it delivers as promised, and I understand those promises) there will be no more headings to be maintained, just collections of attributes identifying an entity, so yes maintenance will be easier.


> 3)      Avoiding BFM, which while it is easier than it used to be, is
> still a factor.  Often BFM simply doesn’t get done, so that changing
> an AR can change existing headings from “right† to “wrong.â€
>

>>Why doesn't BFM get done?  Lack of commitment is one reason, pressure of other work is another, but I think that the biggest problem in my experience is >>jumping through the organizational hoops that prove to be obstacles (How many individuals have to "bless" a particular change?  How many people have to >>scent mark a particular change?).  I think it would be better to devote more time to eliminating these issues.

The big reason that BFM doesn't get done is a long tradition of each library maintaining only its local catalog.  Fine, for the headings that are there when the maintenance is done.  But then, many (most?) libraries accept copy from OCLC without verifying the headings.  So if, for example, a name has been differentiated in the NAF, but old headings have been left in OCLC, the old headings go into uncounted local catalogs.  Automated authority control can catch changes such as replacing active dates with birth and death dates only if there is a reference, or a mechanism to make references from formerly used headings.  It cannot make distinctions such as Turner, Amy vs. Turner, Amy, 1957-

Now that OCLC allows changes to records that an institution doesn't hold, I don't think there is anything stopping us doing better BFM there, except for the magnitude of the task and the lack of global search and replace capabilities.


> Amy
>
> [log in to unmask]
>
> From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Benjamin A Abrahamse
> Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2015 1:07 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Changing "active" date to full dates?
>
> Regardless of current PCC policy, replacing inexact dates with exact
> dates when they beomce known fulfills the Ranganathanian dictum to
> "save the time of the user."  It also seems kind of silly to record
> information in the 046 that does not match what's in the 1xx.
>
> If BFM is no longer quite the painstaking process it once was, what
> (outside of "because them's the rules") is the rationale behind not
> making the change?
> --Ben
>
> Benjamin Abrahamse
> Cataloging Coordinator
> Acquisitions and Discovery Enhancement MIT Libraries
> 617-253-7137
>
> From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Theroux, Manon
> (Secretary)
> Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2015 12:57 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Changing "active" date to full dates?
>
> Replacing flourished dates with birth/death dates was PCC policy in
> the AACR2/LCRI era. The NACO Participants’ Manual (3rd ed.) had this
> to say on p. 73:
>
> Generally, do not add or take away any information to authority
> headings
> (1XXs) coded AACR2 or AACR2-compatible (descriptive cataloging rules
> fixed field 008/10 will be coded c or d) unless there is a clear error
> or  the addition/removal is called for by the rules (e.g., if birth
> dates become available for a heading with "flourished" dates (See  LCRI 22.1)).
>
> It was in the 1st edition too (p. 71).
>
> I thought it was a good policy.
>
> Manon
>
> --
> Manon Théroux
> Head of Technical Services
> U.S. Senate Library
> SR-B15 Russell Senate Office Building
> Washington, DC  20510-7112
> 202-224-3833 (phone)
> 202-224-0879 (fax)
> [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
>
>
>
> From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Robert Bratton
> Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2015 12:23 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Changing "active" date to full dates?
>
> I agree with Bob Maxwell, and I might take it a step further.
> RDA 9.19.1.5 states:  "Add the period of activity of the person (see
> 9.3.4<http://access.rdatoolkit.org/document.php?id=rdachp9&target=rda9
> -4587#rda9-4587>
> RDA) if needed to distinguish one access point from another. Make this
> addition when the person's date of birth or date of death is not
> available."
> Since Jay now has the birth and death dates, I think he is justified
> in changing the AAP since RDA as currently written prefers them.
> The old NACO stricture to 'never ever change an AAP unless you
> absolutely have to' has evolved and continues to evolve.  For example,
> we now have the option to add death dates to vampiric AAPs like:
> Smith, William,
> 1702-
>
> Robert
> --
> Robert Bratton
> Cataloging Librarian
> Jacob Burns Law Library
> George Washington University
> Washington, DC
>
>
> On Tue, Sep 22, 2015 at 7:17 PM, Robert Maxwell
> <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
> Well *I* support your wanted change, Adam, and I think it’s a pretty
> common practice even in the absence of permission from RDA ☺
>
> Responding to the original question, I would change the activity dates
> to the actual dates.
>
> Bob
>
> Robert L. Maxwell
> Ancient Languages and Special Collections Librarian
> 6728 Harold B. Lee Library
> Brigham Young University
> Provo, UT 84602
> (801)422-5568
>
> "We should set an example for all the world, rather than confine
> ourselves to the course which has been heretofore pursued"--Eliza R. Snow, 1842.
>
> From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>] On
> Behalf Of Adam L. Schiff
> Sent: Tuesday, September 22, 2015 4:33 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: Changing "active" date to full dates?
>
> I wouldn’t consider making such a change if he had been established
> as “Adam, William ‡c (Missionary)† or something of the sort
> (though I would still add the form with dates as a 400).
>
> This issue came up before a few weeks ago.  RDA says to use a variant
> name as the basis for a variant access point.  That would mean your
> suggested
> 400 is not allowed.  I think the variant access point ought to be
> allowed but didn't get much support for a change to RDA instructions
> to allow you to use a preferred name in a variant access point.
> Adam L. Schiff
> Principal Cataloger
> University of Washington Libraries
> Box 352900
> Seattle, WA 98195-2900
>
>
> On Tue, Sep 22, 2015 at 3:06 PM -0700, "Shorten, Jay"
> <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
> I found from research the birth and death dates of n  82236641 ARN
> 1060906 Adam, William, ‡d active 1821-1861 . Can some remind me of
> the general PCC practice as to whether I should therefore change the
> authorized heading to “Adam, William, ‡d 1796-1881† or just add
> this form as a 400? Technically the active dates are not an error,
> though I think full dates are more useful.
>
> I wouldn’t consider making such a change if he had been established
> as “Adam, William ‡c (Missionary)† or something of the sort
> (though I would still add the form with dates as a 400).
>
> Jay Shorten
> Cataloger, Monographs and Electronic Resources Associate Professor of
> Bibliography Catalog Department University Libraries University of
> Oklahoma Co-owner, PERSNAME-L, the list about personal names in
> bibliographic and authority records
>
> jshorten@ouedu<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>



 

--

Stephen Hearn, Metadata Strategist

Data Management & Access, University Libraries

University of Minnesota

160 Wilson Library

309 19th Avenue South

Minneapolis, MN 55455

Ph: 612-625-2328

Fx: 612-625-3428

ORCID:  0000-0002-3590-1242