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The AALL Spectrum® Blog is published by the American Association of Law Libraries. Submissions from AALL members and other members of the legal community are highly encouraged. Opinions and editorial views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of AALL. AALL does not assume any responsibility for statements advanced by contributors. Previously, the AALL Spectrum Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.
10/17/2014 6:32:33 PM

A Tale of Two (or More) Headings

On March 3, 2013, the following note appeared on the list for the Library of Congress’s Program for Cooperative Cataloging:

I would like to enter a plea that access points for treaties not be changed to the form presently called for by RDA.  Law librarians find the instruction in RDA (access points starting with the first-named government, including for multilateral treaties) to be unacceptable.  The American Association of Law Libraries is working on a proposal to revise RDA to produce better outcomes for treaties.  This proposal will be submitted to ALA’s CC:DA and hopefully forwarded to the Joint Steering Committee for RDA.  Meanwhile, existing authority records probably can’t be changed by machine processes, and it would be nice if NACO members avoided changing them manually until this is settled.

I apologize if that paragraph seems incomprehensible to non-catalogers -- the gist of it is that the new cataloging code we have all adopted, Resource Description & Access (RDA), instructed us to list treaties in our catalogs under the jurisdiction named first on whatever copy of the treaty the first institution to catalog it happened to have in their possession. This was deemed unacceptable because the order of governments listed on any given copy of a treaty is completely meaningless. A group of librarians from AALL’s Technical Services SIS was attempting to go through channels to address the problem.  In the meantime, catalogers should just leave the old AACR2 headings for treaties alone – and not convert them to the new RDA-approved headings.

RDA, for all its difficulties, has a number of strong points, and one of them is the idea that specialized groups of libraries would form communities to adapt RDA to deal with the kinds of materials that they know best, i.e. film librarians would join together to come up with templates for dealing with films, music librarians would be responsible for  figuring out how best RDA could deal with scores, and law librarians, through the American Association of Law Libraries, would figure out how best to deal with legal materials.

And that is exactly what happened. John Hostage, TS-SIS’s official representative to ALA's Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access (CC:DA), solicited input from TS-SIS members and others (chiefly members of FCIL-SIS). He then wrote a proposal calling for all treaties to be entered in a way that made sense -- under title.  He presented his proposal to CC:DA. They approved it, with some modifications, and forwarded it on to RDA’s Joint Steering Committee for Revision, and by April of 2014, RDA was changed. RDA now asks that we record the preferred title of a treaty under its official name. (Naturally, it’s slightly more complicated, but never mind about that!)

Of course, it was a huge amount of work for John and the librarians who helped him. But it was a success, both for the system, and for AALL, which is recognized as the organization that speaks nationally for the catalogers of legal materials. This same group of catalogers is now addressing questions from the Joint Steering Committee about what the word “jurisdiction” means to legal experts, as well as setting up templates for things like how much information about authors we want in our catalog records (i.e., do we want to include in our records the entire list of an author’s affiliations as they appear on title pages?)  Frankly, I think RDA is lucky to have such a dedicated and knowledgeable group as the law catalogers of AALL.

Posted By Christina Tarr at 10/17/2014 6:32:33 PM  1 Comments
10/14/2014 1:21:07 PM

Check Out the September/October 2014 Issue of Spectrum on AALLNET!

The September/October 2014 issue of Spectrum is now available on AALLNET. We hope you enjoy the issue, and we encourage you to post your feedback here!

Posted By Ashley St. John at 10/14/2014 1:21:07 PM  0 Comments
TOPICS: spectrum
10/10/2014 1:49:22 PM

Reading about Current Tech Advances

On most Friday afternoons I reserve time to learn about current advances in technology. CNET.com, Wired.com, and PCmag.com are the frequent sources that I read. The "How To," "Video," and "News" links are most helpful in learning about what's current.

Technology is nearly everywhere. The importance of knowing and embracing new technologies can't be overstated. Technology plays a substantial role in  how we work, how we commute to work, and how we communicate with each other.

Today, we can place most technology devices in our pockets or around our wrists. Thanks to the mobility and friendly usability of technology today, we have access to a plentitude of information, in literally seconds.  

Technology advances quickly and it is fun to save time on Friday afternoons to read about what's new.

Posted By Tracy Woodard at 10/10/2014 1:49:22 PM  0 Comments