All of these careful arrangements *completely disintegrated* when they
were placed into the computer catalog. Since computers are rather
mindless, the uniform title "Works" is now placed alphabetically under
the author's name ("W") and as a consequence, people are supposed to
*actively search* for "Works" (or browse to "W") although everybody,
including our predecessors, have always known that no one will ever do
that. So, I agree that collective uniform titles do not work, but it
is also true that they haven't worked for a long, long, long time.
Does it then follow that these collective uniform titles are useless?
That people *do not want* the group of records collocated under
"Cicero, Marcus Tullius. Selections. English"? I think they do want
that, but those groups of records are impossible for people to find in
our current catalogs. Changing it to "Cicero, Marcus Tullius. *Works.*
Selections. English" is certainly no improvement at all for the user
and seems senseless.
I agree that in current catalogs, collective titles aren't much help.
Maybe this was the reason that the principle of collective titles was
almost completely abandoned in Germany, when we changed from our older
cataloguing code (the so-called "Prussian instructions") to the modern
German RAK rules.
But, is it possible to make collective uniform titles useful and
functional for today's information tools? I believe they could and
that people would appreciate it, but that would take complete
reconsideration from the user's point of view--something I don't see
happening very soon.
I don't think that a complete reconsideration is necessary. It's just a
question of changing how the data is presented.
No witchcraft would be required to make use of the information in a
sensible manner. For a long time, I've suggested presenting our users
with reasonable next steps (in the form of links) whenever they view a
title record. For example, when a manifestation of a work by author X is
displayed in the catalog, reasonable next steps could be (among others):
- other editions of this work
- secondary literature about this work
- other works by the same author
- collections of works by the same author
- biographies of the author
Of course, these links should only be shown if there are appropriate
records in the catalog.
The "collections of works by the same author" link would make use of the
collection information. It wouldn't matter if this information was
stored conventionally as collective titles or - as I suggested in my
last mail - as additional work elements in the composite description.
Prof. Heidrun Wiesenmueller M.A.
Stuttgart Media University
Wolframstr. 32, 70191 Stuttgart, Germany
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