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Re: [Koha-devel] (koha 3.0) OPAC search results list

From: Spencer Anspach
Subject: Re: [Koha-devel] (koha 3.0) OPAC search results list
Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2007 13:52:49 -0400

Spencer, I'm curious if you're coming at this from a cataloger's
perspective, or from a user's.

Neither, and I think that's important, so I'm glad you asked. :)

As a cataloger, I don't believe in the concept of main entry.  It had
its uses in the card catalog days, but we are way beyond that and in
this "keyword" world, the idea of one author being named in a 100
field and another in a 700 field merely because one name appeared
before another on an item (or an earlier edition of an item) is
patently ridiculous.  As is the limit to three named authors (LC's
rule for decades) and many, many other outmoded
rules/guidelines/practices.  Cataloging needn't be the conservative
practice it is today (in the "status quo" meaning of the word
conservative, not the political meaning) when so many of our systems
allow for global changes and other maintenance tasks that were
impossible in earlier generations.

As a user, the concept of main entry/added entry is foreign and
inexact and therefore useless.  That's why the label for the 700 field
is so variable and vague across library systems--in some cases it is
an additional (and co-equal) author, in other cases it is a secondary
participant (e.g. editor, translator), etc.

In my earlier post I was speaking as someone who has tried (usually
with little success) to explain the treatment of this data in some
OPAC to some other hapless user.  The inconsistency of 700 treatment
is especially bizarre in non-book formats.  Take a look at the output
of the search


and imagine a catalog where the first name following the "by" is in a
separate column so that it stands out.  How is a user supposed to make
heads or tails of a list that runs

Joe Wright
Ang Lee
Colin Firth
Jane Austen

etc.  As a sympathetic user who might have the ear of a cataloger, I
can only ask: Who *are* these people and what have you done to my

What I have noticed, is that professionally trained catalogers view
the bibliographic universe in vastly, and often incompatible ways,
from the average library user. While the distinctions that catalogers
make are essential for accurately recording materials, they aren't
always the best as a resource for finding what the user wants.


So I guess the questions is, how can we build a search tool that
satisfies both worldviews :-)

I think this is next to impossible with current cataloging
practices/standards.  The only thing you can do is to try not to
confuse the user too badly with the data available.  In my experience,
catalogers rarely look at the public view of things if given a choice,
so let them merrily carry on, because they probably won't ever change.

As for me, when given the freedom, I catalog using many, many of the
options available in current standards (much use of the subfield e in
author fields, mandatory use of the first indicator in the 650/653
fields to differentiate primary from secondary subject terms, etc.).
I hope that whatever system I'm working in can make adequate use of
the intellectual effort I put into cataloging, but I'm generally
satisfied as long as the system doesn't mangle things too badly.

Spencer M. Anspach, Library Systems Analyst/Programmer
Library Information Technology, Indiana University
Library E456                    phone: (812) 856-5318
Bloomington, IN  47405          fax: (812) 856-4979
address@hidden          pager: (812) 335-7403

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