Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Most Concise AACR2 as JSON

(see "The Most Concise AACR2." by Michael Gorman from American Libraries 12:8 (Sept. 1981), p. 499; - reprinted in Foundations of Cataloging : a sourcebook available here and here and available here via MARVEL!)

Rule 1. Describe the item you have in hand. Record the following details in this order and with this punctuation:
Title : subtitle / author's name as given ; names of other person or bodies named on the title page, label, container, title frame, etc. -- Edition (abbreviated). -- Place of publication : Publisher, Year of publication.
Number of pages, volumes, discs, reels, objects, etc. ; Dimensions of the object (metric). -- (Name of series)
Descriptive notes
Examples of descriptions
  1. His last bow : some reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes / A. Conan Doyle. -- London : Murray, 1917.
    305 p. ; 20 cm. -- (Murray's fiction library)
  2. A white sport coat and a pink custacean / Jimmy Buffett. -- New York : ABC, 1973.
    1 sound disc. ; 12 in.
    Backing by the Coral Reefer Band.
  3. Little Ernie's big day / by Norma Eustace ; designed by Doris Manier. -- 2nd ed. -- Chicago : Little Folks, 1980.
    1 filmstrip ; 35 mm. -- (Big day filmstrips)
If the item is a serial...


"author's name as given":"author's name as given",
"names of other persons or bodies named on the title page":"names of other persons or bodies named on the title page",
"Place of publication":"Place of publication",
"Year of publication":"Year of publication",
"Number of pages":"Number of pages",
"Dimensions of the object":"Dimensions of the object",
"Name of series":"Name of series"}

Example 1:

{"Title":"His last bow",
"Subtitle":"some reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes",
"Creator":"A. Conan Doyle",
"NumberOfPagesEtc":"305 p",
"Dimensions":"20 cm",
"SeriesName":"Murray's fiction library"}

Example 2:

{"Title":"A white sport coat and a pink crustacean",
"Creator":"Jimmy Buffet",
"PublicationPlace":"New York",
"NumberOfPagesEtc":"1 sound disc",
"Dimensions":"12 in",
"DescriptiveNotes":"Backing by Coral Reefer Band."}

Example 3:

{"Title":"A white sport coat and a pink crustacean",
"Creator":"Jimmy Buffet",
"OtherPersonsEtcNamedOn":"designed by Doris Manier",
"Edition":"2nd ed.",
"Publisher":"Little Folks",
"NumberOfPagesEtc":"1 filmstrip",
"Dimensions":"35 mm.",
"SeriesName":"Big day filmstrips"}

Why is field identification using punctuation so important to Michael Gorman? It's arcane and difficult for a machine to parse. Why not use labels which are at least somewhat self-documenting (and therefore somewhat less arcane) and easy for a machine to parse. He seems to be fine with MARC, but remember that it was created essential to computerize the process of typesetting the catalog cards the Library of Congress used to sell. An important characteristic of those cards was the use of various typographic conventions (font size, bold, layout) in addition to punctuation. We've long since given up on that attractive and marginally useful aspect of catalog presentation and Gorman is not (any longer, at least) complaining about that.

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