I have often been frustrated that searches in library catalogs do not allow me to include (or exclude) roles, such as "editor" or "translator." I am annoyed when a search on "Nabokov, Vladimir Vladimirovich, 1899-1977" in the so-called "author" field brings up numerous editions of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, translated into Russian by Mr. Nabokov. Yet when I look at the detailed records, in most he his listed simply as an added entry by his full name, but with no relator code. In essence, the catalog has no way to distinguish between works he wrote (or co-wrote, thus the use of the added entry) and those he translated. Unfortunately, it is clear when you look at records in library catalogs that those role codes have not been assigned consistently.
Thom Hickey did a study of relator codes and relator names ($4 v. $e), which he reported in his blog, and came up with the figures below. His interest was in the interaction between the code and the name. Since his study was done in the OCLC WorldCAt catalog, I think it points out that these key roles are not being coded in our records, which essentially results in a lot of false hits for our users. If we can't get these simple relationships coded into our data today, what hope do we have for a relationship-oriented bibliographic view in the future?
Thom's list of top terms:
and the top relator terms:
joint author (474,307)
former owner (34,892)
- These codes are being used primarily in certain cataloging sub-cultures (music and archival works are my best guess)
- Some are obviously under-used, in particular "joint author" and "translator"
Bogarde, Dirk, 1921-1999
Märthesheimer, Peter, 1938-
Fassbinder, Rainer Werner, 1946-1982
Nabokov, Vladimir Vladimirovich, 1899-1977. Otchao?a?nie
Löwitsch, Klaus, 1936-
All of these have the same coded relationship to the bibliographic work being described in the MARC21 record: personal added entry.
I very much like the idea of distinguishing roles and making those relationships part of the user experience. But if we aren't taking advantage of the ability we have today, I don't have much hope that we will code these relationships in the future.