Dear PCCLIST readers,

Stephen Hearn raises a major concern:

We consider representing the children's author as "Jackson, Tom" an error, but a lesser error than representing an author born in 1972 as "Jackson, Tom, 1932-"; but that's what would happen if the original authority were changed.  Moreover, if a 400 with "Jackson, Tom" were added to the record whose 100 had acquired a date, any future records we load containing "Jackson, Tom" would be subject to the same change process.

Stephen's remarks cause me to wonder how all the world's rival online systems link access points in bibliographic records to headings in authority records, and under what circumstances each of the systems effects a change: whether people receive on-the-fly prompts, notifications via messages, periodic lists, and so forth: or whether the changes "just happen" and no one gets told.

I also wonder whether, for some systems, ANY change to a heading that was previously unqualified (field 100 subfield a only) but now has a qualifier of any kind, will result in ALL instances of that access point in a bibliographic database being changed to the new heading.  In OCLC Connexion, such a change happens when the bib record heading is controlled - and cases happen when an unqualified heading is controlled to a NAR that was created to represent a different individual, as data in the 670 fields indicates.  

Actually, personal name authority records represent headings rather than people.  But this distinction is perhaps too subtle for most catalogers to bear in mind when doing name authority work.  I'm guilty of that myself: when writing to authors in the course of creating or updating a NAR, my standard message includes "We catalog librarians attempt to provide unique headings for each person represented in catalogs worldwide."

Sincerely - Ian

Ian Fairclough
Cataloging and Metadata Services Librarian
George Mason University
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