PLEASE NOTE: This is an archived document! It is of historical interest only and does not necessarily represent current Yale University Library practice. For other archived documents, go to: Archived Cataloging Documentation. For current documentation, go to: Cataloging at Yale.


Description and Travel Headings


From: Authority Control Planning Committee
Date: 1 April 1996

Background

Authority control is a critical component of the retrospective conversion process. It ensures that the headings (names, series, subjects, and uniform titles) on converted records are consistent with other headings in the catalog and that those headings conform to current national standards. At the same time, however, we have an ongoing need to ensure that all of the headings in our catalog are in keeping with current standards. With this in mind, our authority control needs have been defined as threefold:

The authority control services provided by OCLC will enable us to accomplish these objectives and, at the same time, maximize over the long term the significant investment in authority control that we are prepared to make. In recommending that the Library contract immediately with OCLC to accomplish our first objective -- update and correct headings on bibliographic records in the existing Orbis database, generate associated authority records, and eliminate unwanted authority records -- we identified a number of critical issues, including the need to rationalize Yale policy to eliminate as much as possible those Yale practices that differ from or conflict with LC practice. One such practice that requires our attention is the use of chronological subdivisions under headings that take the following form:

[Place]--Description and travel

Current LC practice, implemented in 1993, no longer permits the use of chronological subdivisions under [Place]--Description and travel headings. Our catalog has several thousand such headings, all of which will be corrected by the OCLC software to reflect current LC practice. For the vast majority of these headings, the change is considered a desirable one, if only because it is (almost always) in our best interest to conform to current national standards. In some cases, however, when chronological subdivisions under [Place]--Description and travel headings have served to accommodate specific local practices, the change can be considered to have an adverse impact on the catalog. Such is the case for the Yale Collection of Western Americana, for which the chronological subdivisions under [Place]--Description and travel headings have provided a necessary level of access to a rich, historical collection of travel literature, guidebooks, and other geographic works.

We considered two options for preserving the access currently provided by the use of chronological subdivisions under [Place]--Description and travel headings. The first would require explicitly coding the headings as local (i.e. non-LC) headings, thereby excluding them from the OCLC authority control process. The second option, which is proposed in this document, is to assign a different, more appropriate heading to the affected bibliographic records.

Although at first glance the first option appears to be the most straightforward, especially given that we regularly assign an increasing number of local headings, the second option is preferable because it (1) does not conflict with LC practice (2) allows us to take maximum advantage of the OCLC authority control process and (3) will not result in a potentially unmanageable number of local files in the catalog.

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Proposal

The purpose of this document is to provide a proposal and an implementation strategy intended to take maximum advantage of the authority control services provided by OCLC and, at the same time, accommodate the need for access to a specific component of the Yale Collection of Western Americana. While the current implementation is limited to a small set of [Place]--Description and travel headings that have been subdivided chronologically and are assigned to bibliographic records representing Western Americana material, the strategy proposed can be applied at any time by the appropriate cataloging unit to meet a similar need for access to other significant, historical collections of geographic works.

Genre Terms: A Thesaurus for Use in Rare Book and Special Collections Cataloging, prepared by the Bibliographic Standards Committee of the Association of College and Research Libraries' Rare Books and Manuscripts Section, was published in a second edition in 1991. As a thesaurus, it provides both an alphabetical and a hierarchical arrangement of standardized terms for intellectual and literary genres of textual material (e.g. Election sermons, Fairy tales, Protest literature) as well as terms for physical manifestations of such genres (e.g. Chapbooks, Museum catalogues, Three deckers).

The terms are assigned in field 655 and indexed as subjects. Any term can be subdivided geographically, chronologically, or otherwise. Geographic subdivisions (assigned in the $z) must follow Library of Congress rules for indirect geographic subdivision; chronological subdivisions (assigned in the $y) are determined locally; all other subdivisions (assigned in the $x) should conform as much as possible to Library of Congress practice.

For the Yale Collection of Western Americana, for which chronological subdivisions under [Place]--Description and travel headings have served to accommodate specific access requirements, the heading Travel literature, when subdivided geographically and chronologically, will provide the necessary level of access.

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Implementation

Because the OCLC software will effectively eliminate all chronological subdivisions under [Place]--Description and travel headings, we need to assign the appropriate Travel literature heading to all bibliographic records that require the heading before those records are provided to OCLC for authority control processing. Because our goal at this time is simply to preserve the access that is afforded by the 53 Western Americana headings that have chronological subdivisions under [Place]--Description and travel, including the heading United States--Description and travel, the chronological subdivisions that were formerly assigned according to LC practice will serve adequately as chronological subdivisions under the Travel literature heading. In all other cases, however, the cataloging unit is responsible for determining an appropriate array of chronological subdivisions.

The following is provided as an example of the changes that will occur when the proposal described in this document is implemented:

  Gleason, James Henry, 1823-1861.
     Beloved Sister : the letters of James Henry Gleason, 1841-1859, from Alta California and
     the Sandwich Islands, with a brief account of his voyage in 1841 via Cape Horn to Oahu and
     California / compiled with notes by Duncan and Dorothy Gleason.   Glendale, Calif. : A. H.
     Clark Co.,  1978.

The bibliographic record for this work is currently assigned the following subjects:

600/1:10:  $a Gleason, James Henry, $d 1823-1861.
600/2:10:  $a Tribble, Frances.
650/3: 0:  $a Voyages to the Pacific Coast.
651/4: 0:  $a California $x Description and travel $y To 1848.
651/5: 0:  $a California $x Description and travel $y 1848-1869.
651/6: 0:  $a Hawaii $x Description and travel $y To 1950.

After the proposal is implemented, the bibliographic record will have the following subjects:

600/1:10:  $a Gleason, James Henry, $d 1823-1861.
600/2:10:  $a Tribble, Frances.
650/3: 0:  $a Voyages to the Pacific Coast.
651/4: 0:  $a California $x Description and travel.
651/6: 0:  $a Hawaii $x Description and travel.  
655/7: 7:  $a Travel literature $z California $y To 1848. $2 rbgenr
655/8: 7:  $a Travel literature $z California y 1848-1869. $2 rbgenr
655/9: 7:  $a Travel literature $z Hawaii $y To 1950. $2 rbgenr

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Summary

The OCLC automated authority control process, because it updates headings to reflect current, authorized forms, will eliminate all chronological subdivisions under [Place]--Description and travel headings.

Our goal at this time is simply to preserve the access that is currently afforded by the 53 Western Americana headings that have chronological subdivisions under [Place]--Description and travel, including the heading United States--Description and travel.

The recommended option affords the following advantages: (1) it does not conflict with LC practice (2) it allows us to take maximum advantage of the OCLC authority control process and (3) it will not result in a potentially unmanageable number of local files in the catalog.

The heading Travel literature, and/or other headings for geographic works from Genre Terms: A Thesaurus for Use in Rare Book and Special Collections Cataloging, can be assigned according to the guidelines specified therein by the appropriate cataloging unit to meet a similar need for access to other significant, historical collections of geographic works.


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