Nobody who was designing a metadata application profile from scratch would think up something like this.  The RDA elements Form of Work, Other Distinguishing Characteristic of Work, and Other Distinguishing Characteristic of Expression (miscellaneous categories if there ever were any) were created as places to accommodate information that had long been included in some access points, usually as single words or short phrases.  In the beginning they were terms that were only used when necessary to distinguish one work from another.


These categories were then reified as MARC fields.  It was probably wise that the latter two were combined into one field.  Then we had the idea to use controlled vocabularies in these fields, further obscuring the original purpose.


The problems begin with the fact that categories like “work” and “expression” don’t work very well with serials and series.  They are analogies, at best.  If catalogers begin working in Bibframe, as I hear they will, distinctions between work and expression are lost in that model anyway.  And if you really want to make your head spin, wait until you read part 2 of the Final Report of the LC-PCC Task Group on Aggregates in Beta RDA Toolkit.


When we’re describing something like a monographic series or a multipart monograph, we want to be able to say what the “thing” is.  It doesn’t matter whether we call it a work or expression.  Ideally, there would be just one place to put that information.  It could even be a fixed field.  Oh wait, we’ve had that for decades (008/12).  If we are going to use controlled vocabularies, the terms have to be used as they are defined in those vocabularies.  In LCSH the term “Series (Publications)” has the scope note “Here are entered works on publications issued as a sequence of narratives, published separately, often over a considerable period of time, mostly about the same characters and often written by one author.”  It applies to things like the Harry Potter books (as originally published) that are not treated as series for cataloging purposes, generally because they lack a collective title applying to the group as a whole.  This concept of series may be the one understood by the general public, especially in public libraries, and is the one used in LibraryThing, for example.  There the term “publisher series” is used for what we call monographic series, while publisher’s series has a much narrower definition for catalogers.  The point is that the LCSH term Series (Publications) is not a superclass for monographic series and multipart monographs, and it has no place in series authority records. 


Just a week ago we had a PCC Virtual Meeting, and I think one of the themes was how inaccessible our systems are for those outside our monastic culture.  Making increasingly fine distinctions that few will understand and even fewer will remember how to apply will not make those systems more accessible, nor will they help one user find the resources they need.




John Hostage

Senior Continuing Resources Cataloger

Harvard Library--Information and Technical Services

Langdell Hall 194

Harvard Law School Library

Cambridge, MA 02138

[log in to unmask]

+(1)(617) 495-3974 (voice)

+(1)(617) 496-4409 (fax)
ISNI 0000 0000 4028 0917


From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Robert Maxwell
Sent: Thursday, February 25, 2021 16:33
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Erasmus, Desiderius, -1536. Works. 1969 (n86716878)




Series authority records can exist either as work- or expression-level records.


This is an expression-level record (it represents a particular expression of Erasmus’s complete works, the Amsterdam edition, as you noted). 380 is for “Form of work”; there isn’t an equivalent MARC field for “Form of expression”, nor is there an RDA element for this. So when we’re identifying a series like this one that is an expression, we record the fact that it’s a series using the RDA “Other distinguishing characteristic of expression” element, which is coded in MARC 381. (This is true of any series—if the record represents a work it’s recorded in 380; if the record represents an expression it’s recorded in 381).


I know it seems a little odd; most series can have a series authority record at the work level, but in the case of series like this that are the complete works of somebody the “work” is the complete works (which would have the AAP Erasmus, Desiderius, ǂd -1536. ǂt Works), but the aggregate “work” at that level isn’t a series.


Someone from LC will have to comment on whether or not subfield $b should precede the year in the call number in 050.




Robert L. Maxwell
Ancient Languages and Special Collections Librarian
6728 Harold B. Lee Library
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602


From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Levy, Morris S.
Sent: Thursday, February 25, 2021 1:56 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Erasmus, Desiderius, -1536. Works. 1969 (n86716878)


Good afternoon. I have a few questions regarding the authority record for the “Amsterdam edition” of Erasmus’ works:


010  n  86716878  ǂz n  85331727

040  DLC ǂb eng ǂe rda ǂc DLC ǂd DLC ǂd UPB ǂd MoSU ǂd UPB

046  ǂk 1969 ǂ2 edtf

050 0PA8500 1969

1001 Erasmus, Desiderius, ǂd -1536. ǂt Works. ǂf 1969

377  lat

381  Series (Publications) ǂ2 lcsh

381  Multipart monograph

4001 Erasmus, Desiderius, ǂd -1536. ǂt Works. ǂl Latin ǂf 1969

4001 Erasmus, Desiderius, ǂd -1536. ǂt Works. ǂl Latin ǂs (Amsterdam edition)

4001 Erasmus, Desiderius, ǂd -1536. ǂt Works. ǂl Latin ǂs (Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen)

4001 Erasmus, Desiderius, ǂd -1536. ǂt Opera omnia Desiderii Erasmi Roterodami recognita et adnotatione critica instructa notisque illustrata

4001 ǂw nnea ǂa Erasmus, Desiderius, ǂd d. 1536. ǂt Works. ǂf 1969

642  ordinis 2. t. 4 ǂ5 DLC

643  Amsterdam ǂa New York ǂb North-Holland

644  f ǂ5 UPB

644  n ǂ5 DLC

645  t ǂ5 UPB

646  c ǂ5 DLC

670  Erasmus, Desiderius. Adagiorum Chilias secunda, 1988: ǂb series title page.

670  Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, Victoria University in the University of Toronto, via WWW, 17 November 2016 ǂb (Opera omnia Desiderii Erasmi Roterodami is the third edition of Erasmus's complete works, and the first critical edition; also known as "the Amsterdam edition" and cited as ASD. The organization follows Erasmus's own organization into 9 "ordines". ASD will not include a new edition of Erasmus' correspondence (Ordo 3), there being no need to replace P.S. Allen's excellent critical edition: Opus epistolarum Des. Erasmi Roterodami (Oxford: 1906-58))

670  Erasmus, Desiderius. Works. 1969. Ordo 4, tomus 7, 2017: ǂb title page (Opera omnia Desiderii Erasmi Roterodami) title page verso (sous le patronage de l'Union académique internationale et de l'Académie royale néerlandaise des sciences et des sciences humaines)

670  Erasmus Center for Early Modern Studies website, viewed December 7, 2016 ǂb (The Erasmus Collection is an indispensable resource for the edition of Erasmus's Opera Omnia which is being published by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)) ǂu


1)      Shouldn’t the publication year in the 050 field be recorded in a subfield $b?

2)      I typically see series format information in the 380 field. For this record, the fields were changed to 381. Is this a new practice?


Thanks in advance,

Morris Levy



The Ohio State University
Morris S. Levy, MS(LIS), MA
Head of Bibliographic Initiatives
Assistant Professor
The Ohio State University Libraries
120G Library Technical Center, 1165 Kinnear Road, Columbus OH 43212

614-688-3210 Office

[log in to unmask]