I said nothing about positive descriptors or achievements, which to the extent they are subjective are as inappropriate as the negative stuff, IMO. One could include, in the AR for JS Bach, the following from Grove: His musical language was distinctive and extraordinarily varied, drawing together and surmounting the techniques, the styles and the general achievements of his own and earlier generations and leading on to new perspectives which later ages have received and understood in a great variety of ways; or, for Mozart: Unlike Haydn, his senior by 24 years, and Beethoven, his junior by 15, he attempted most of the art-music forms of his time and excelled at them all.
Let’s leave all that to the historians, biographers, critics, et al., as has been noted by other posters. It is pleasing to read that Mr. Allgood plans to remove the judgmental statements from the cited ARs.
Refusing to include terms describing sex offenders or adulterers or anti-Semites in an NAR is also a political and moral act, it’s just one that supports the
subject of the NAR (frequently a person with power) by refusing to document their actions and that portion of their identity. If we’re providing brief biographies (and I think at this point it’s safe to say we are), why are we restricted to only positive descriptors
or achievements (provided it’s cited from a reliable source and 670, etc.)?
Eric Willey (pronouns: he/him/his)
Special Collections and Formats Cataloger
Illinois State University
Normal, IL 61761
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I don’t see sex offenders or the like. While we do provide “little biographical sketches” in name authority records, as time permits, the purpose of these is not to identify the “horrible things” done by these persons. I condemn without equivocation what these men did, but I disagree about using our authority records to make political and moral statements. One could use the Wikipedia article on Martin Luther King, Jr. to discuss his adulterous behavior, but is that central to his identity? Richard Wagner was a virulent anti-Semite, but the AR makes no mention of that.
In the past, I have criticized LC catalogers for the cut-and-paste transcription of purple prose from obituaries, initially noting this one:
New York times WWW site, Feb. 27, 2006 ǂb (in obituary published Feb. 26: Don Knotts; b. in W. Va.; d. Friday [Feb. 24, 2006], Beverly Hills, aged 81; skinny, lovable nerd who kept generations of television audiences laughing as the bumbling Deputy Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith show)
This was quickly removed from the record by LC. For cataloging purposes, identifying Knotts as a “skinny, lovable nerd” playing a “bumbling” character is not necessary. There are other more appropriate venues for such subjective information.
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