Re: Atlantic (monthly?) Elmer Alvin Klebs 04 Apr 2007 23:15 UTC


Thanks for asking an excellent question!! I figure you will likely be
deluged with responses, and so have tried to be concise, but couldn't
help lifting the hood and poking around a bit with some underlying
issues that have been on my mind of late.

Atlantic monthly/Atlantic is one of those titles which have gone back
and forth numerous times over the decades, at least so far as the cover
presentation goes.  I think the short answer is that, after a while,
folks in the cataloging world got tired of creating new records all the
time for what was essentially the same publication.

So, with the latest (1993+) record, we came up with a solution.  We
noticed that, regardless of the cover presentation, the masthead inside
the magazine continued to consistently refer to itself as "Atlantic
monthly."  So we decided to base our description on the masthead
effective with that record (this is noted both in the 500 source of
title and in a 936 catalogers' note) and give "Atlantic" as a cover
variant. That way, only if/when the masthead title changes we would we
need a new record.

We realize that this might cause confusion to those who want the main
entry to match the cover (the cover being what folks tend to pay the
most attention to).  But we also don't want the confusion of having
holdings for a single title spanning over half a dozen records, and
check-in staff constantly receiving current issues on the wrong record,
which then further confuse patrons looking for specific issues.

This highlights one of the dilemmas of serial cataloging.  What do we
do when publishers do weird things that confuse the very people who are
trying to find their publications?  Those of us with years of experience
can regale the captive audience with no end of tales of bizarre title
changes, cryptic variants in numbering schemes, and other baffling
oddities.  There are even awards within the cataloging community for
some of these things now.

Our job as catalogers is to do our best to put an end to confusion --
to create structured bibliographic metadada (i.e., a catalog entry) that
succeeds in its mission.  That mission: to ensure that users of the
collection (including library staff) clearly understand what the library
has in its collections, no matter which of an increasing number of
approaches the user takes to discover the answer to that question
(author, title, publisher, series, subject content, issuing body,
keyword, etc.).

So, when a publisher located on the Atlantic coast (namely, Boston)
continues to waffle about the name of a certain Monthly they have been
issuing for over a hundred years now, we eventually get to the point
where we figure continuing to add new records on top of the half dozen
or so already there will be more confusing than nailing down a
consistent title (even if from a less prominent source) and sticking
with it as long as we are able.

Such are the challenges of the cataloging profession.

Elmer Klebs
Senior Serials Cataloger
Library of Congress

[Standard Disclaimer : I represent myself, and not my institution, in
the above missive.]

>>> Lee Carlton <kopycatalyst@YAHOO.COM> 04/04/07 5:26 PM >>>
This may be a very basic and stupid question to the serial catalogers,
but why is The Atlantic still cataloged as The Atlantic monthly
(*Atlantic monthly (Boston, Mass. : 1993)*)?  It has caused
confusion and problems for serials students where I work.  From what
little I know of AACR2 and CONSER practices with major/minor changes,
this should be a title change dating back to 2003/2004.

  Any enlightenment would be appreciated.


We won't tell. Get more on shows you hate to love
(and love to hate): Yahoo! TV's Guilty Pleasures list.