I’ve recently had occasion to establish access points for a couple of Belgian authors, and it appears that the RDA instructions for names with separately written prefixes in Appendix F are not in line with actual practice in Belgium. I'm referring to Appendix F.11.3 (for Dutch and Flemish names) and F.11.5 (for French names).


F.11.3 and F.11.5 reflect current practice in the Netherlands and France, respectively, but the Belgians have adopted a different practice, which is recorded in IFLA’s Names of Persons document, http://www.ifla.org/node/4953  -- see the entry there for Belgium, especially page 30, which shows that the surnames of Belgians containing a separately written prefix are always entered under the prefix, regardless of the language of the name. This strikes me as a very sensible solution, as it can be difficult to determine the “language” of a person’s surname.


Following the basic instruction at RDA, “If a surname includes an article or preposition, or a combination of the two, record as the first element the part most commonly used as the first element. Determine common usage by consulting alphabetically arranged lists in the person's language or from the person's place of residence or place of activity,” I have chosen to follow the practice of the Belgian national bibliography and enter Belgian names under the separately written prefix (for an example, see NAR no2016151237).


But I think it would be helpful to add some language to RDA to address this situation. Could we add a sentence (or even just a footnote) to F.11.3 and F.11.5 to say, for example: “For persons residing in Belgium, follow the practice of the Belgian national bibliography (see the entry for Belgium in IFLA’s Names of Persons, http://www.ifla.org/node/4953).”


If others agree, what’s the appropriate way to move this proposal forward? Would this be a suitable candidate for the Fast Track process?

Charles Croissant
Senior Catalog Librarian
Pius XII Memorial Library
Saint Louis University
St. Louis, MO 63108