I have received comments on two discussion papers from one of the members of the ALA Core Subject Analysis Committee, who wrote:

I oppose the proposals raised by "Discussion Paper No. 2022-DP10: Defining a New Subfield in Field 264 to Record an Unparsed Statement in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format" and "Discussion Paper No. 2022-DP11: Defining a New Subfield in Field 490 to Record an Unparsed Statement in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format."

Searches in library catalogs, particularly on the backend for librarians, use various indexes. Those include publisher name and series. Having an unparsed statement for publisher information or series would eliminate the ability to do these targeted search. Even with variation in form for publisher name (an argument raised in the paper), one can still perform a targeted keyword search within that specific index to get results (i.e., search "Wiley"). Publisher is an important field for differentiating between, for example, various iterations of DVD releases for movies. Similarly, not all series get authority records, and increasing numbers get traced in 490 0#; even so, users can perform series title searches and get results. Particularly for public and school libraries, series is an important field for patrons looking to read through a particular set of books. Having the numbering separate in the 490 and manipulable in library catalogs is particularly important for preserving and displaying reading order for patrons in public and school libraries (some add this information even when it's external to the book to be helpful). Having instead an unparsed statement for series name that includes numbering, ISSN, parallel series titles, etc. searchable only by generic keyword adversely affects patrons' abilities to find information, and increases the time needed to scan through results to find desired resources.. 

Moving to a system where only general keyword can be used to search for information dilutes the effectiveness of searching. In general, weakening the effectiveness of metadata should be avoided--it increases noise and decreases precision of search results. And setting up a system that undermines an index (which would happen if some publishers or series had parsed and some unparsed information, meaning a priori the publisher name and series indexes would provide incomplete search results) could be used to justify further dilutions of metadata in other fields, with increasing reliance on unindexed keyword results to take the place of useful indexed information. 

I believe that this is a solution in place of a use case. Perhaps it's being considered to better accommodate substandard publisher metadata with minimal manipulation by catalogers, given the decreasing numbers in the profession and increasing de-professionalization of cataloging work. But this is not a valid reason to undermine useful search indexes and help for library patrons (which include power users and librarians that take advantage of various indexes.)

Adam L. Schiff
ALA Core Subject Analysis Committee Liaison to MARC Advisory Committee
Principal Cataloger
University of Washington Libraries
(206) 543-8409
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