There is another important point here, namely that PortAmerica is NOT a corporate body.  It is a slice of built (or to-be-built) environment, not a collection of people.  It cannot be an actor, even more so than fictional beings that engage in “pretend” actions.  Absent a fuller reading of the source of information, the actors behind this project remain in the shadows.  This puts it on the list of things that are to be considered geographic subject headings, a proposed place.  While it has actual geographic coordinates, it also has some of the qualities of entirely imaginary places, such as the “Hill Valley” of the “Back to the Future” movies or the “Springfield” of “The Simpsons,” which, after all, are also represented by renderings or other simulacra nearly identical to those needed to conceptualize things that people hope to actually build and inhabit.


In today’s commercial world, when one project replaces an earlier failed one, especially in this case where the first entity existed only in the imagination and as simulacra, it is a new entity with new owners.  This makes it different from a corporate body that undergoes a name change during its birth process or a polity or street that has its name changed, because the first thing never existed in a way that could be inhabited.


All of this suggests to me that the business of geographic subject headings might need some rethinking, for several reasons.


First, in recent times, as in this case, there are huge numbers of private sector housing developments, office parks, shopping centers and the like that have names entirely different from the polities in which they are located or their post office addresses.  One merely has to drive around any suburban area to see multiple examples.  There are also plenty of proposals that don’t get built, and many that change owners or get repurposed or get total makeovers and acquire new names.


Second, while it is true that such projects won’t appear in full monographs very often (except perhaps for Arcadia books), digitized photos, drawings and maps, which can include artists’ conceptions of unrealized places or unexecuted designs, typically require item-level metadata.  As the volume of such resources increases, so will the need for a greater number of particularistic names.


One glitch is that it is much easier to create a NAR for a corporate body than to create any kind of subject heading, so that becomes the default reponse.  Maybe the rules for geographic names need to be rethought for those things like real estate developments, golf courses and the like that are private property, not polities or natural features, and which may remain unrealized, because these things are now all around us.  Either that or perhaps they should be taken off the 151/651 list.  Unfortunately, it looks like another case of legacy thinking (these things would probably not have been considered “proper” for a library 100+ years ago unless hidden within some sort of more official treatment) creating a condition that is impossible to undo.


Chris Baer

Assistant Curator

Manuscripts & Archives

Hagley Museum and Library




From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Ian Fairclough
Sent: Thursday, December 07, 2017 7:54 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] PortAmerica


Dear PCCLIST ([log in to unmask]) readers,


Thanks to Chris Baer for his remarks about the NAR below.  I agree that the qualifier should be changed. It is misleading - it mislead me, and is likely to cause catalog users to assume that the place actually exists somewhere in Prince George's County. In a private message, however, I was advised that LC-PCC PS for under Proposed Bodies  addresses the situation - which it does, in part. It reads: “If an authorized access point is needed for a proposed body, use the name found in the available resources as the preferred name. If the body is established later and the name differs from the proposed name, use the actual name in the authorized access point and treat the proposed name as a variant access point.”  What the policy statement doesn't cover is cases like this one, where the body fails to materialize.


My correspondent also said, " If it were me, I would be thankful someone had already established it and take it."  I am indeed grateful, and will use it unchanged, because the NAR helps me to do my job. But this access point is troublesome.  I believe that we might be better advised in the policy statement with a sentence such as: If the proposed body is abandoned without coming into existence, edit the qualifier to reflect the situation appropriately, e.g. "Proposed real-estate development".


Is there a possibility that someone reading this email will take such action?  Or do I have to send a request to [log in to unmask] or elsewhere? 


Ian Fairclough

Cataloging and Metadata Services Librarian

George Mason University


[log in to unmask]


010  n  87846563

040  DGPO ǂb eng ǂc DLC ǂd DLC

1102 PortAmerica (Prince George's County, Md.)

670  U.S. Cong. Senate. Comm. on Environment and Public Works. PortAmerica project oversight, 1987: ǂb t.p. (PortAmerica) p. 2 (Prince Georges County, Md.)