Take a look at VIAF (the virtual international authority file)

As all catalogers know, name and subject authorities differ from country to country.  That is why your library has to set the ground rules for which authority file you are going to follow and stick with that one.

Just in case you were unaware, there exists a virtual international authority file (VIAF) in which you can search a name or subject and get all the various authorities associated with that topic/name.

For example I searched my favorite novelist, Ruth Rendell.  Here is the result of my search:viaf capture



Tibet as a subject

TibetBack in 2013 the Library of Congress updated the subject heading: Tibet (China) to   Tibet Autonomous Region (China)

Our catalog had not been fully updated to reflect this change.

Has yours????

Sewing NOT Dressmaking


Just cataloged an instructional DVD titled “Sewing beyond the basics: kitchen accessories”.  The DVD includes a bonus CD-ROM with patterns.

I wanted to add the subject heading: 150 — |aSewing|vPatterns  but this is invalid.

Instead it is a reference for 150 — |aDressmaking|vPatterns  or

sewing-machine-close-up150 — |aTailoring|vPatterns

the DVD’s accompanying patterns are NOT about dressmaking – they are about sewing kitchen accessories.

Bombay (India) not valid for use as a subject

Bombay (India) is now Mumbai (India)

Mumbai mapMumbai

LC still authorizes use of Bombay (India) as a corporate name heading. However Bombay (India) IS NOT VALID FOR USE AS A SUBJECT! When cataloguing a work ‘about’ use Mumbai (India) The city’s name was officially changed in 1996.

Gee…. I sure miss those old Cataloging Service Bulletins!  I would have amended our database way before now…

Koran is now Qurʼan

The Holy KoranThis subject heading change might be tricky for some library software packages due to the diacritic.


For instance, my library software displays as: Qur[AE]an



I catalog a lot of fiction.  A popular topic  involves the historic Christian military order the Knights Templar – an organization that existed for nearly two centuries during the Middle AgesKnights Templar

When cataloging works about this historic order I notice that a lot of libraries incorrectly use the subject heading:

Knights Templar (Masonic order)  n 80001259

which is an international philanthropic group affiliated with Freemasonry

For works about the historic Christian military order of the Knights Templar the correct subject heading is:

Templars    n 80113860

These groups are easily confused.  I hope this posting sheds some light on this topic…



Calcutta name change

A quick ‘heads up’ alert

The authority for Calcutta (India) states:

667 — |aSUBJECT USAGE: This heading is not valid for use as a subject. Works about this place are entered under Kolkata (India).

This is a name change that is slow to be accepted among the general public (at least in my part of the world) even though the change took place in 2001.
For that reason we have chosen to change the references in the authority from See Also references to SEE references.


005       20130226073742.0
008       800904n| aznnnabbn |a ana
010 —    |an 80049617 |zn 50052217 |zsh 85018810
034 —    |dE0882211|eE0882211|fN0223411|gN0223411|2geonames
035 —    |a(OCoLC)oca00431503
040 —    |aDLC|beng|erda|cDLC|dDLC|dDLC-S|dDLC-R|dDLC|dNIC|dDLC|dNN|dOCoLC|dDLC|dWaU
043 —    |aa-ii—
151 —    |aCalcutta (India)
451 —    |aCorporation of Calcutta (India)
451 —    |aKalika?ta? (India)
451 —    |aCalcutta Municipal Corporation (India)
451 —    |aKalkat?ay (India)
451 —    |aKalkat?a (India)
451 —    |aKalakatta? (India)
451 —    |aKalkatah (India)
451 —    |aKalaka?ta? Purasabha?
451 —    |aCalcutta Corporation (India)
551 —    |wb|aKolkata (India)         ****We have changed this to a 451
667 —    |aSUBJECT USAGE: This heading is not valid for use as a subject. Works about this place are entered under Kolkata (India).
667 —    |aOld catalog heading: Calcutta
670 —    |aCalcutta (India). Schedule of establishment for …
1980-81:|bt.p. (Corporation of Calcutta; Calcutta)
670 —    |aPhone call to assistant director, LC Overseas
Operations Div., 12/7/84|b(Corporation of Calcutta is
the same as Calcutta, India; not a separate body)
670 —    |aThankappan, P. A history of Calcutta’s streets,
1987:|bt.p. (Calcutta) p. facing t.p. (Kolkata)
670 —    |aWhere is it, 1976:|bp. 4 (Calcutta, 22̊5?N, 88̊4?E)
670 —    |aLetter from Municipal Commissioner, The
Corporation, 1/15/87|b(Corporation of Calcutta has been re-named Calcutta Municipal Corporation with effect from 1/4/1984)
670 —    |aForeign names decisions approved by the U.S. Board
on Geographic Names, Feb. 28, 2001|b(former name:
Calcutta–PPLA, 22̊34?N 88̊22?E; new name: Kolkata
[Bengali], Calcutta [conventional]–PPLA, 22̊34?  88̊22?E)
670 —    |aGeoNames, algorithmically matched,
2009|b(unknown; 22̊34?11?N 088̊22?11?E)
670 —    |aPublic health in colonial Calcutta and the Calcutta
Corporation, 1923-1947, 2010:|bt.p. (Calcutta Corporation)
670 —    |aGEOnet, Nov. 27, 2012;|b(Kolkata [approved], in West
Bengal, India, PPLA, 22̊33?45?N 88̊21?47?E; variants:
Calcutta, Kalika?ta?, Sealdah)
670 —    |aStatesman’s yearbook online, Nov. 27, 2012|bunder
India, city profiles, Kolkata (Kolkata, known as Calcutta
until 2001)

RDA and the library patron

RDA is here whether we want it or not.

As yet my library system has chosen not to implement RDA.  However, seemingly we will not be able to hold out forever…

To all those libraries who are using RDA – I have some questions.  The most important of which is this:

“Does RDA cataloguing benefit the patron?  In what way?”

We must remember that the whole reason for cataloging in the first place is to enhance access for our end users.   We do this by being consistent and thinking of the patron’s needs and wants.

Our library has an excellent catalogue with an AquaBrowser overlay.  In my opinion it offers patrons an easy-to-use, comprehensive catalogue with optimized use of icons and graphics. How can RDA improve this?  Will it really….?

How does spelling out the word pages or sound benefit the end user?In this day of prevalent social media which uses abbreviations more than we ever have in the past, why are we stopping the use of abbreviations in our catalogues?

Are libraries jumping on the RDA bandwagon like lemmings? Why?  Has the worldwide library community invested so much time and money in the implementation of RDA that they now feel obliged to keep it for those reasons only?

RDA provides instructions and guidelines for formulating data for resource description and discovery.  I would argue that we describe our resources very well without RDA and that the patrons can discover/access it easily and efficiently.  Hence the name of our catalogue “Discover“.

How does it benefit the end user to change an author authority record from:

Sandford, John, 1944 Feb. 23-          to

Sandford, John, 1944 February 23-

Really…  what patron would care if this change were made?  Does this authority change enhance access?  Isn’t access the reason we catalogue in the first place?

If it ain’t broke…. don’t fix it.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog posting are my own and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of my employer.


Cataloging Service Bulletins: do you miss them?

ImageI mourn the discontinuation of the Cataloging Service Bulletins.  I found them to be a vital resource for keeping up-to-date on new and changed subject headings and name authorities.  The Library of Congress site states that they are a discontinued publication. All back issues are available (in html) for free, but we need NEW issues.

Do you miss them as much as I do???

Technology included

ImageFor some years now we have been seeing CD-ROMs and DVDs included with some books.

Today broke new ground for me.  Our department catalogued a title with a USB Flash Drive included!