I found the correspondence I had with a member of PSD back in 2019. She agreed with me that we should not collapse the two NARs into one, and spoke that day to one of her PSD colleagues (whom I will not name here since this is all being relayed second- or third-hand now). This colleague had done research on this in 2018 and remembered her thought process very clearly. She considered it a case of Universitat—Universidad—Universitat and decided the simple see-also reference was the best she could come up with even though the evidence in the database and the UB website “left her with questions.” This is how the 952 ended up in LC’s authority record stating that PSD was considering it a name change but why there was no further information coded in the 510.

The bit on UB’s website about “University autonomy being restored” in 1985 made us wonder if that might be a good break point since the gradual shift back to Universitat was probably happening about that time, although, quoting my wise friend from LC, “Usage by the university is—to say the least—confused.” We were especially concerned about the impact on subordinate bodies, and considered adding a note to the parent NARs suggesting that Universidad be preferred as a parent body before 1985 and Universitat after 1985. However, we also suspected Universitat should be the parent body for subordinates prior to some earlier date, presumably in the earlier part of Franco’s reign, and were going to try to pin that down. She was looking for a history of UB in LC’s collection to see if she could figure it out, but then I guess we both got pulled in different directions and we did not reconvene.

Then my own colleague went to university archives at UB and they agreed that usage has been vague and inconsistent and that both times the “change” happened (Universitat—Universidad and Universidad—Universitat), it was very gradual rather than “As of today…..” They did not go into what might have been happening during the 18th century or earlier.

Based on my conversation with the policy specialist in PSD, her report of her colleague’s 2018 research, and the info we got from UB itself, perhaps the  best approach is to add 667s stating to prefer Universitat for publications up until, say, the late 1930s, and again for publications beginning around 1985, and to prefer Universidad for the interim.

I invite folks to try contacting UB again to see if they get a different answer this time. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, in their own authority files the Bib. Nac de España and the Bib Nac de Catalunya do not get bogged down in the back-and-forthing and effectively say it is and always has been Universidad and Universitat, respectively. Així és la vida, sometimes.


Rich Murray
Principal Cataloger
Catalog Librarian for Spanish and Portuguese Languages | Rare Books | Sequential Art
Duke University Libraries
Durham, North Carolina, USA
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