Canada is metric!

I know, I know, this is OLD news.  In fact, the metric system began to be  implemented in Canada in 1970.

However, I ask myself…

Why is it that Canadian Marc records for books use metric in the 300 subfield c (eg. 24 cm.)

BUT… for DVDs and compact discs they still use the Imperial or American system of measurement!  I have to amend EVERY DVD or CD that I download for copy cataloguing to the  metric 12 cm. from the Imperial 4 3/4 in.

A quote from “Maxwell’s Handbook for AACR2R” found on page 215.  “As allowed under AACR2R 0.28, the National Library of Canada will use only metric measurements throughout the record. Canadian libraries will not use inches in area 7.5″ (the physical description area)

I realize that most libraries like to follow AACR2r to the letter, but…. in this cataloguers opinion, it makes sense to have all formats of materials measured in the measurement system used by the country in which the item is catalogued.  I know cataloguers hate change, but….  it has been 41 years!


6 responses to “Canada is metric!

  1. I agree 150%! And this is not just because I primarily catalogue DVDs and CDs. It’s also been a wee grumble of mine that I have to change the $c in pretty well every 300 line in every record I download – be it from an American or Canadian library. I guess I’ve kind of just gotten used to it though over the years and it’s become one of those things I “just do” without much thinking about it anymore. Also, since the majority of records I derive from are from American libraries, I’d have to change it anyhow….Still, I’m all for consistency (why does AACR2 prescribe using cms for books, but inches for AV material!?!?) so it would be nice if all Canadian libraries only used metric measurements! So, bring it on…

  2. Why not ask a broader question? Does anyone really care that it’s a 12cm video disc, or do they care that it’s a DVD? A DVD is neccesarily a 12 cm video disc (if you know it’s a DVD, you don’t really need to record that it’s 12cm either, it’s neccesarily true, and nobody really cares about it’s measurements anyway), but a 12cm video disc could be a blu-ray, an old obsolete HD-DVD, or a normal DVD, or some other weird videodisc format — not really enough information for any potential user to know if it will serve their needs or not.

    Why are catalogers spending time recording physical measurements for DVD’s in the first place (in any units of measurement), instead of instead recording the actual format, that it’s a DVD? (And, hey, if we wanted to be useful, the region code of the DVD too, since that’s also neccesary to determine if the item will meet a patron’s needs).

    • Jonathan,
      Thanks. You have made several valid comments. The fact that the item is a DVD or CD is of course essential to the marc record and IS stated. My rant was that some Canadian cataloguers are using the Imperial system of measurement which in this country has been obsolete for over 40 years. We seem to have grasped the metric system for describing books though, so the inconsistency irritates me. As to the region code, we do not enter it into the marc record for the reason that we DO NOT purchase any DVDs that are not in the region code used by our patrons. If a national library or indeed some academic libraries wanted to have more than one region code in their collection, then of course that information

        should be recorded

      in the marc record.

  3. Hey Lynne – great post!

    As a follow-up to this, and for more reading… I found a post I wrote a while ago discussing some of these issues. Some of the comments/conversation are about creating a program/macro that can convert terms and/or measurements from an “American” setting or set of terms to “Canadian” (In the quotes, you can all add your countries of choice) Here’s the link:

  4. So, maybe a stupid question, but if it’s stated that a particular item is a CD or DVD in the record already… why do you need to spend time saying it’s 12cm OR 4 3/4″, let alone converting one to another? Isn’t that neccesarily so by virtue of it being a CD or DVD, and does anyone care what it’s measurements are anyway?

    (Also, curious where in an AACR2/MARC record the fact that something is a CD or DVD is stated; what MARC field should I be looking for this in? The records I encounter don’t in fact seem to state this (or occasionally might only in a note which can’t be used for limits/facet sin software), but instead just call it a “video disc” or “audio disc”, I think.)

    The region coding thing matters only when sharing cataloging records accross libraries of course — which I assume you’re doing, since you’re having to convert other peoples units of measurement, right?

    • Jonathan,
      I expect you have a valid point when you say “does anyone care what it’s measurements are anyway?”. If by ‘anyone’ you mean the library patrons. All they care about is whether it is a CD or a DVD. I guess it is just we ‘anal’ cataloguers who give any merit to measurements. With the imminent advent of RDA we will be seeing more ‘real language’ descriptions. AACR2 only gives description in the 300 tag as ‘videodisc’ or ‘sound disc’. Although we at our library have begun to code the 300 like this: 300 $a1 compact disc (54 min.) :$bdigital ;$c12 cm.
      You are also correct in saying that the region coding only matters when sharing records. We DO contribute all of our records to the BookWhere database. We have chosen to NOT include the region coding because ALL of our DVD records reflect Region 1 which is used here and in the United States. We assume that most of the people sharing our records are in the U.S. or Canada. If other countries want to use our records they have the option of then adding the coding if they so wish.

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