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 this: 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.