My cataloguing course came to an end this week, which means that after 12 weeks of thorough study I’m apparently now familiar with, if not competent to work with a host of acronyms such as AACR2, MARC21, LCSH, DDC, and of course, DC.
Something we haven’t addressed, however, is RDA or FRBR, which in some respects is acceptable since the former hasn’t been formally released and the latter, as I’ve now tattooed on my arm (not really), is a framework, a guideline, a conceptual model. But what little I do know of the organization of information (something I think all librarians should know something about) suggests that RDA and FRBR is the way to go and the things to study if I want to (1) make a real difference in the field, and (2), find a half-way decent income. So in between my final assignments I’ve been reading a lot on the FRBR game. I may turn it into a reading course for next term. we’ll see how it goes.
In the mean time, here’s another set of rough notes, this time on Glenn Patton’s “Introduction to FRAD”, from Taylor (2004). There isn’t anything real exciting to report from this chapter, I don’t think, except for Patton’s summary of what a good authority file should do:
- Document decisions made by the cataloger when choosing appropriate records for a BibRecord as well as when creating new access points.
- Serve as a reference for these two functions listed above (i.e. choosing and creating). This provides information to distinguish one authority file from another and can reveal when a brand new access point is needed in the authority file.
- Control forms of access points. Patton adds that “in an automated environment, [it will] change those access points when the authority record itself is changed.” I understand Patton’s context more than his original statement, but for now that’s good enough for me.
- Support access to the BibRecord by leading the user from the name that has been sought to the name listed in the BibRecord.
- Link bibliographic and authority files in different ways, e.g., to allow data elements to be converted into different languages and scripts that are appropriate to the user’s needs. This is fairly general, I think, but I’m happy to let it be.
I don’t know if the concept of authority control is something we give much thought to – I know my fellow students and I didn’t in our class. Authority records were just things we double-checked to ensure that our BibRecords would be correct. And in this day of automation and electronic data transfer, I suppose authority control is more and more rudimentary. But there can be so many value judgments in this particular area that things can get heated or philosophical. On the one hand, we’ve given ourselves (if you will) the power and authority to grant a person or body a name. On the other hand, we’ve given ourselves the power and authority to signify an individual by a certain term. We can be as absolute (and arbitrary) or as relative as we choose to be on this one – it plays tricks with my background in the humanities.