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Cataloging problem: Uniform titles ERCELAA@VUCTRVAX.BITNET 23 Mar 1993 19:16 UTC

Date: 23 Mar 1993 13:13:10 -0500 (EST)
From: "Enrique E. Gildemeister" <EEGLC@CUNYVM.BITNET>
Subject: Cataloging problem

I apologize for the length of this message. I am new to the list and
felt I had something worth discussing and forgot about the list
guidelines. Future large messages will be sent serially.

My question concerns itself with the choice of qualifier for a uniform
title used as a unique serial identifier.

In the mid-eighties the LCRI's dealing with qualifiers were very rigid and
prescriptive; there was a hierarchy of choice that covered most situations,
depending on the degree of conflict.

1) Place
2) Corporate body
3) Place and date
4) Other

By the end of the eighties, I seem to remember, all prescription was abandoned
and catalogers were told to select whatever qualifier seemed appropriate, even
just plain date, even when place of publication was not embedded in the title.

Since most of the serials I work with now are non-periodical government docu-
ments, which tend not to require "difficult" qualifiers, and much of my time
is spent doing monographs, and I was out of the work force in 1989, I lost
touch with this business; especially with the current trend toward simplifi-
cation of cataloging, I thought the issue was final and closed.  The other
day, however, I browsed through the 2 v. loose-leaf LCRI manual and found
that prescription of type of qualifier has returned for certain cases.

The case that distresses me the most is the provision of using corporate
body to resolve conflicts for titles published in the same place.  As we
know, the choice of corporate body qualifier requires the cataloger to
consider a subsequent change in body as a title change.  My objection is

Especially when doing retrospective cataloging of runs of serials with common
titles, published in large, prominent cities like New York or Chicago, if
you apply literally the provision of corporate body qualifier, you end up
with a succession of what I call "artificial" title changes.  Common sense
tells you that place/date is a better choice, especially when dealing with
serials issued by publishers not prominently named, or with "weak" names,
or with names not even considered important by the editors of these serials,
as opposed to official organs of real corporate bodies, with genuine names
(in which case, I feel, the choice of body vs. place/date is warranted).

By now you're saying, "Where's the beef?" Well, in fact, LC and the CONSER
libraries have been using place and date in these weak cases all along, from
the mid-eighties through to now, but there has never been documentation
supporting this practice.  The result is that one learns to apply this policy
by inferring its validity from the bib records of LC and the CONSER libraries.
The average cataloger is left waffling, precisely at a time when we're supposed
to be less literal and rigid.

As I mentioned above, the prescription of corporate body over place/date has
been violated by the very institutions that set the policy. There is
no documentation anywhere that provides warrant for place/date. One "just has
to know".

In the old days, when something this came up, you went over to the typewriter
and wrote Ben Tucker at LC a letter.  Whom do you write now?  Perhaps you ask
"Is it worth getting upset about, enough to write a letter about it?" I
think yes, especially when I think of all the time wasted in retrospective
cataloging projects for unique special collections, like the one I worked on
for three years at NYU, cataloging radical periodicals and union newspapers.
We didn't want to make all those nonsense title changes, but we were creating
the master records for unique material and felt obligated to follow standards.

I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who's had to deal with this. Write
me, give me your ideas, and if you know who to contact (does anyone in LC's
serial cataloging teams have an e-mail address?), tell me.