I had hoped that RDA would reconsider its practice of duplicating relationships for different entity types, but it does not appear that this is happening. It is not self-evident that because a person is a different kind of thing from a corporate body, it requires two distinct kinds of activity to describe them. It’s also not clear that the FRBR model requires it. It may be noted that personal and corporate authorship are covered by the same RDA relationship. Why does the same not apply to subjects?
RSC/RelationshipWG/1/Sec final lists a number of new subject relationship designators that will be going into RDA:
M.2.6 Person as Subject of aWork
described in (person) A work that describes a described person.
Reciprocal relationship: description of (person)
description of (person) A person described by a describing work.
Reciprocal relationship: described in (person)
M.2.7 Family as Subject of a Work
described in (family) A work that describes a described family.
Reciprocal relationship: description of (family)
description of (family) A family described by a describing work.
Reciprocal relationship: described in (family)
M.2.8 Corporate Body as Subject of a Work
described in (corporate body) A work that describes a described corporate body.
Reciprocal relationship: description of (corporate body)
description of (corporate body) A corporate body described by a describing work.
Reciprocal relationship: described in (corporate body)
While I applaud finally having designators to use for persons, corporate bodies, and families that are the subjects of works, we again have a situation where the “described in” designators are completely incomprehensible with the parenthetical addition. If these designators display in ILS’s users will not understand them. The definitions are quite clear, but wouldn’t the designators have been much clearer if they’d been formulated some other way, e.g. “person described in”, “family described in”, and “corporate body described in”? I understand that the qualifier refers to the agent being described, but there must be a more clear way of making the designators suitable for both RDF and linked data as well as ILS displays.
I’m also wondering why we shouldn’t use “subject” instead of “description of”. Isn’t this much simpler and clear? “subject of” could replace “described in”.
Adam L. Schiff
University of Washington Libraries
Cataloging & Metadata Services
Seattle, WA 98195-2900