ALCTS - Association of Library Collections & Technical Services


June 7, 2002

Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access

To: 	    Kristin Lindlan, Chair, CC:DA

From:	    John Attig, Chair
            Task Force on Consistency across Part I of AACR

Subject:    Interim Report, June 2002

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The Task Force on Consistency across Part I of AACR was charged to undertake an editorial review of Part I, proposing revisions to promote consistent language across chapters and to move general rules to Chapter 1. This will be a major undertaking and therefore a large Task Force was appointed. This was done partly to allow the work to be spread out, and partly to assure that there was expertise from each of the formats covered in Part I.

This document is a report of progress to date (mostly organizational matters) and some issues for discussion at Annual 2002. It was written by the chair of the Task Force, based on discussion among Task Force members, but has not been reviewed or approved by the Task Force.

The Task: The basic exercise is to look at comparable rules across the chapters in Part I of AACR2, to identify discrepancies in wording or conflicts in the instructions, and to offer revisions where we feel that the discrepancies are not justified. A second task is to identify rules that are generally and consistently applicable in the various chapters in Part I, which could be handled with a general rule in Chapter 1.

We propose to break down the task by ISBD areas and to submit a separate set of proposals for each area as it is completed.

We decided to begin work on Area 2 (Edition), followed by Area 3 (Material-Specific Details). We had hoped to have both of these area ready for CC:DA to review at the 2002 Annual Conference and forward to JSC for their consideration in September 2002. However, for reasons described below, this has not been possible. We expect to have completed work on Areas 2 and 3 before Midwinter 2003 and to have at least begun work on one or more other areas. JSC has indicated its desire that ALA pursue this aggressively, so that they can benefit from our work in future discussions on the organization of Part I of the code. Despite our slow beginning, we share this desire and will do our best to comply.

Resources: Our work will be based on texts of AACR which are as up-to-date and authoritative as possible. At the moment, we are working from texts prepared by the Task Force chair (and, coincidentally, JSC Webmaster) which contain the current version of the text, updated to include the 2002 revisions, and formatted using Microsoft Word styles. In the future, JSC is asking ALA Editions to provide a working text based on the 2002 revision, in Word format with styles; when available, we will base our work on that text.

In addition, Nathalie Schulz, the JSC Secretary, has compiled a list of the notes made by Tom Delsey in preparing The Logical Structure of AACR, in which he identified a number of inconsistencies of wording.

Ground rules: We are compiling ground rules as we go along. For example, we agreed that our basic comparison of rules would consider only the text of the rules, not the examples (of course, any proposed revisions would have to take examples into account). We also decided to include consideration of marginal rules such as the rare book rules in Chapter 2 and the rules for Manuscripts in Chapter 4, but not the rules for Analysis in Chapter 13. We don’t have a formal list of ground rules yet, but we will include one in a subsequent progress report.

Documents/Reports: Once we start forwarding documents for CC:DA to consider, we expect to submit three documents for each area:

  1. A cut-and-paste of the rules for that area, organized to facilitate comparison and with the examples formatted as hidden text so that they don’t intrude. In the case of Area 2, this document also highlighted differences by underlining.

  2. A report which describes the results of the comparison, listing
    • Rules that are unique in chapter 1
    • Rules that are unique in other chapters, i.e., rules that are (presumably) applicable to a particular type of material
    • Rules that are inconsistently formulated or worded across chapters
    • Implicitly (?), rules that are consistent across chapters

    During Task Force deliberations, this report will be a working document recording questions and issues to consider; by the time it is submitted to CC:DA it will document our recommendations on whether revisions are needed in any of the above cases.

  3. A set of revision proposals for any recommended changes to the rules.

We anticipate that, in addition to the revision proposals, the other two document will be made available to JSC, so that they can see the basis for our recommendations — as well as having a list of what we decided not to revise.

Discussion Items for CC:DA at Annual 2002: In addition to a progress report, which will include late-breaking decisions from a Task Force meeting on Friday, June 14, we would like to use our time at the CC:DA meeting to discuss two general issues and some thorny problems relating to Area 2. CC:DA might decide to forward the two general issues as a proposal to JSC, as they will affect every area we work on.

  1. Numbering of rules: One suggestion that came up during our discussion was to attempt once again to number comparable rules consistently across chapters. For example, in Chapter 1, the general rules for edition statements are 1.2B1 and 1.2B2, followed by an “in case of doubt” rule (1.2B3) followed by an optional rule for supplied edition statements (1.2B4), etc. In Chapter 2, the general rule is 2.2B1, the “in case of doubt” rule is 2.2B2, and the optional rule is 2.2B3. The suggestion is to use consistent numbering (usually derived from Chapter 1), omitting rules which have no equivalence in other chapters (in the example above, there would be no rule 2.2B2).

    Pro: This provision would explicitly identify comparable rules. It also promotes consistent citation of rules across chapters.

    Con: On the other hand, in the recent revision of Chapter 12, JSC decided that it was not worth preserving the attempt at comparable numbering in the notes rules in that chapter. It was also pointed out that maintenance of Part I would be more difficult: adding a rule in Chapter 1 could require changing rule numbers in all the other chapters.

    The Task Force is not unanimous in recommending consistent numbering of rules. However, if it is to be done, it should be done now. Or, to put it the other way, we don’t want to undertake to propose consistent numbering in any of our proposals without a decision from JSC that this should be done.

  2. Punctuation rules: One of the areas in which there is a remarkable degree of consistency in the rules — which may be even greater after our work is done — is the X.XA1 Punctuation rules. This is not surprising, given that punctuation is set out in ISBD(G) and implemented across ISBDs, not to mention AACR2. Also not surprisingly, the notable exception is Area 3, each version of which has its own punctuation rules. Given the mechanical nature of punctuation and the presence in each chapter of examples showing the punctuation in use, it could be argued that repeating these rules in chapter 2-12 is simply taking up paper to no good purpose. Again, the Task Force was not unanimous in recommending that the punctuation rules be given only in Chapter 1. The main counter points were that (a) redundancy is a minor consideration compared to the utility of the rules, which might be enhanced by repeating these rules, and (b) even outside of Area 3, there may be other differences in the punctuation rules. Given this last point, CC:DA may wish to hold off on making a decision until we have looked at all the areas.

    Discussion Issues on Area 2: In some ways, Area 2 turned out to be an unfortunate place for the Task Force to start. Area 2 deals with edition statements as a descriptive data element. However, it is difficult if not impossible to separate the edition statement element from the edition concept — and the latter involves us in the ongoing discussion of the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records entities.

    In the FRBR landscape, edition is ambiguous; editions are manifestations (although it is not clear that all distinct manifestations are distinct editions), but edition is defined in terms of changes to the underlying intellectual or artistic content, i.e., to changes in expression. There seems to be a move towards using the FRBR entities to organize bibliographic resources, rather than the concept of edition.

    However, it is unlikely that we can eliminate the concept of edition completely. Most relevant to the case at hand, the edition statement is an ISBD element; this is (one assumes) because such statements are important identifying elements. Edition statements are used extensively and significantly, if not always consistently, by publishers, and are relied upon by users (particularly literary and historical scholars, although the usage is almost universal). In AACR2, the basic rule for transcribing edition statements asks the cataloger to apply a version of the definition of edition in determining whether a given statement is an edition statement: “Transcribe a statement relating to an edition … that contains differences from other editions … or to a named reissue …” (2.2B1 abridged). This seems to imply that, before the cataloger transcribes a statement, she tests that statement against a definition to determine whether it is an edition statement. This is the justification for the “in case of doubt” guidelines and for the rule interpretation that a printing statement should not be transcribed as an edition statement even if it uses a version of the word “edition.”

    The basic instruction in X.2B1 has to be rewritten. As pointed out in 4JSC/ALA/40/LC response, the rule in 1.2B1 is not the same as that in the other chapters. Furthermore, the latter refers to “differences from other editions,” which implies that you can’t transcribe an edition statement for a work existing in only one edition — no “1st ed.” So the rule has to be changed, and in order to do that, we are having to wrestle with the definition of edition or with the FRBR concepts which may be replacing it. This task is made more difficult by the fact that the proposals to revise AACR to introduce FRBR terminology (4JSC/Chair/76/Chair follow-up) — which do contain revisions to these very rules — are still being revised and discussed.

    It may not be possible to finish with Area 2 until the FRBR discussions have been completed, but we hope that a definite direction will be given by JSC in September and that we can finish our task before Midwinter. We seek advice and insight into these complicated issues, and hope that our discussions in Atlanta will begin to give us some direction.