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Useful or useless notes (2 messages) Marcia Tuttle 23 Jan 1996 20:30 UTC

Date:         Tue, 23 Jan 1996 13:14:45 -0600
From: "Kevin M. Randall" <kmr@NWU.EDU>
Subject:      Re: Useful or useless notes (Rosa Montanya)

At 12:18 PM 1/23/96 -0500, Rosa Montanya ( wrote:

>Right now, the process on lowering the level is well advanced and more
>clear than some months ago. The problem is now focused on a note already
>present in some form in the holdings record. Specially on the use of 362
>and "description based on" note. The library committee working on the
>subject of "lower level" (composed by cataloguers specialised on
>monographs) wants "description based on" out, leaving only 362 (whether we
>have first number or not, and in Spanish real practice, one does not have
>many times even information about it). Personally, I would like to follow
>CONSER practice on this subject (even for a really "minimal level").
>The problem is how to explain/justify this note before the Committee. For
>me, it is a internal control note (users do not see it) necessary for
>cataloguers and in the interchange of records with other libraries. In my
>opinion it is not substituted by holdings data. On the other hand, perhaps
>I am too much conditioned by rules and routine. I would appreciate your
>advice on the subject.

The "Description based on:" note is ESSENTIAL in an AACR2 catalog record,
if the description is not based on the first issue published.  The
information is necessary for the proper identification of the publication,
and to determine whether additional information needs to be put into the
record or whether a separate record needs to be created for an
earlier/later title. And in a union catalog, you definitely want to
positively identify a publication.

Holdings data should never be used to *replace* ANY information in the
bibliographic record; the bibliographic record is to describe the
publication *as published*, regardless of the actual holdings of any
particular library.

It should not be difficult to justify the note.  I do wonder, though, what
is the reason behind the desire to eliminate it; what possible savings are

>The other "problem" note is frequency. It is clearly seen on holdings
>records, but then (with our computer system) changes are lost. ?Are these
>changes important, or frequency note can be omitted without remorse?

Frequency can sometimes be important in identifying a publication, in
investigating acquisition or binding matters, etc.  I would not advise its
omission.  What do you mean by "changes are lost"?  If you mean that
frequency changes are not kept up with (i.e. the publication changes
frequency but that information is not put into the record), that happens
to every library.  At least the frequency in the record is correct for the
earliest date given (either in the frequency note, or in the 362 or
"Description based on" note).

It's always easier to record the information you have right now, than to
have to go back and find it at some later date.  (And if you're talking
about removing existing notes, that is complete insanity, IMO.)

Kevin M. Randall
Head, Serials Cataloging Section
Northwestern University Library
Evanston, IL   60208-2300


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Date:         Tue, 23 Jan 1996 15:23:44 +0500
From: Frieda Rosenberg <friedat@EMAIL.UNC.EDU>
Subject:      Re: Useful or useless notes (Rosa Montanya)


We corresponded before about notes (I suggested simplifying past
frequencies), but I would like to say something about the Description
based on note as well.

It sounds as though your system is not retaining information properly if
your past frequencies are lost and your Description based on note cannot
be displayed.  Or perhaps they are retained but only display in a
technical staff display?  What is displayed and how depends on what your
system does with the tags (321 and 500 in USMARC).  In most systems in the
U.S., these may not display on the short screen which the user sees first,
but can be displayed by user command on a longer screen.  Even if you
cannot do this now, think about the future day when you will want to do

Because the description of a serial is based on the first issue in hand,
you need a Description based on note only when you do not have the first
issue.  If you do not, but know what the first issue was, that information
goes in an "unformatted" 362, and ends up in most systems in a note, e.g.,
Began with no. 1 in 1987.  The Description based on note then further
explains that the information in the record came not from that issue, but
from a later issue.  Other libraries find this information helpful.
Though most of us use many records, such as pre-AACR2 serial records, that
lack any information on which issue the description was based, we expect
AACR2 records to tell us this. Some -- admittedly very few --
bibliographically minded users may also find it helpful.

Where this information becomes really crucial is where there is no 362
because, as you point out, your library may not know when the first
issue was published.  In this case, your Description based on may be
the only information in the bibliographic record locating the serial in
time.  Other libraries will often not know whether your record is for
the same serial that they have in hand.  We agonize often enough over
records lacking any year information to put a high value on all three
fields (362, 500 Description based on, and 936) which give us a
chronological reference point for a serial.  Public service librarians
and users need at least some reference points as well.  My advice is,
Don't omit this information!

Best wishes,

Frieda Rosenberg
Head, Serials Cataloging
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill