Rahmat Fattahi Back to Prototype Catalogue of Super Records
(This project was a part of the author's Ph D Thesis (full text online))
THE CONCEPT OF SUPER RECORDS
FUNCTIONS OF SUPER RECORDS
ADVANTAGES OF SUPER RECORDS
OTHER SIMILAR APPROACHES
With regard to the ability of computers in linking records and in structuring data, it is not useful for the online catalogue to collocate all the works by an author or all editions and manifestations of a work and display them together without any meaningful arrangement, as it is the case in many current online catalogues. For example, it is not desirable to display all editions and manifestations of 'Hamlet'. Instead, collocation should be tailored according to the user's needs and request. To achieve this result, the catalogue should provide and suggest ways for meaningful collocation: for example, to collocate only those editions which are published in a given language or in a certain period of time, or in a given version.
As has been demonstrated in the Prototype Catalogue of Super Records, it is possible to have a hybrid approach towards the basis for description in the online environment. While it is assumed here that the basic unit of description is the item in hand and records describing items fulfil the finding, selecting and locating functions, two kinds of multi-level records (i.e., 'super records') can be constructed for the effective discharge of the collocating function: one for voluminous authors (Super Records for authors) containing the author heading and titles of works by that author (see figure 1); and one for voluminous titles (Super Records for Works) which have different editions and manifestations (see figures 2, 3 and 4).
In terms of the super record for works, since uniform titles are used wherever a work has more than one expression and/or manifestation in the catalogue, they can be used as a basis for categorisation of the types of editions and manifestations related to a work. Thus, the super record for a work would contain the author heading (if applicable) and the uniform title along with a categorisation of different editions and manifestations, each category linked to the relevant sub-category, and sub-categories linked to actual records for items. In the super record for works if we identify and record various applicable sub-categories, it will result in a better syndetic structure. For example, the Arabian Nights and Shakespeare's Hamlet can have super records with the following categorisation for different editions and manifestations available in the collection (see figures 2 and 3).
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616.
--All's well that ends well
--As you like it
--The Winter's Tale
--Poems in general
WORKS ABOUT SHAKESPEARE:
History and criticisms
Periodicals (Print; Electronic)
Figure 1. A sample of the super record for a voluminous author
This work includes the following editions/manifestations, etc.,
available in/through this catalogue:
Texts (by Language, date, editor, etc.)
Adaptations or arrangements
WORKS ABOUT THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
Figure 2. A sample of the super record for an anonymous 'work'
It should be pointed out that the type of categorisation depends on the work appearing in various manifestations and formats and for each work it may be different and can be created according to the available entity types. For example, Shakespeare's Hamlet (see figure 3) has a comprehensive category of different editions, versions, manifestations, etc., whereas the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (Figure 4) has a small category.
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616.
Adaptations or arrangements (by type of modification)
Changes of Genre (music performances, operas, novelisation, etc.)
Versions (by physical form)
Figure 3. A sample of the super record for a classical 'work'
Anglo-American Cataloging Rules
This work includes the following editions/manifestations available in/through this catalogue:
Complete editions (by date, editor)
Figure 4. A sample of the super record for a modern work
It should be pointed out that since subject approach is not in the scope of this research, the categorisations and the examples given in this section do not deal with subject access to bibliographic entities. It should also be added that the categorizations here are not exhaustive but they are partial examples of the concept. In this context, the terms used for different categories of entities in the bibliographic universe may not be consistent at this stage.
Catalogue users will search and retrieve super records under author uniform headings or uniform titles or author/uniform titles first so that they can scan the record and decide on the type of item they are looking for. The reverse is also possible: once a record for an item has been retrieved in response to a query, the searcher can move from that record to the relevant super record. This bi-directional approach makes the navigation of the bibliographic hierarchy easier and more understandable. Whilst super records maintain and display the bibliographic relationship of works to their lower level entities, actual records for items provide access to higher level entities through a linking construct including the author heading (if applicable) and/or title of the work. In an electronic environment linkage from records to super records can be done through the addition of relevant reference(s) or note(s) using linking techniques, such as record numbers or hyperlinks, for jumping to different bibliographic levels as has been demonstrated in the experiment developed for this concept. Although the technical aspect of providing such links is outside the scope of this thesis, hypertext technique is feasible is feasible in the electronic environment and could provide such links.
Super records help in the better fulfilment of the collocation of different works by a particular author (Paris Principle 2.2a) and also of various editions and manifestations of a particular work (Paris Principle 2.2b) and display them in a more meaningful arrangement. In essence, the super record for authors can assemble different works by an author in a defined order. Similarly, the super record for works is a simple approach by which collocation, arrangement and display of different editions and manifestations of a work can be implemented in a more flexible way.
In terms of bringing different editions and manifestations of a work together, the concept of super records can, in fact, be considered as a revival of the old concept (i.e., explanatory pages or cards) present in book catalogues, bibliographies and card catalogues. With the idea of super records catalogues resemble to bibliographies. The advantages of the merger (combination or integration) of catalogues and bibliographies has already been highlighted and proposed by Buckland (1988, 1992). Whilst bibliographical apparatus are not merely alphabetical lists of authors and titles and can be structured according to the way users approach them for their information needs, online catalogues have not incorporated this capability. With super records in place online catalogues would become a bibliography of tailored bibliographies, i.e., like bibliographies, they would be more capable of special arrangement of entries as opposed to current catalogues' structure.
Conceptually and also from the result of the experiment done by this researcher, it can be concluded that the concept of super records has a number of advantages as follows:
-- It helps in the better fulfilment of the collocation of different works by a particular author and also of various editions and manifestations of a particular work and display them in a more meaningful arrangement. Also it is in the context of the latter case that the question of 'multiple versions', i.e., related publications such as reproductions, reprints and cumulations can be maintained in a clear and consistent way.
-- Super records explain complex parts of the catalogue and bring together the unexpected or things otherwise difficult to understand. This approach makes the use of catalogues easier and more understandable. The user may find more than he/she expects from the catalogue, in that super records for works bring together entities which may not have the same main entry heading. For example, different editions of Shakespeare's Hamlet which are entered under 'Shakespeare, William' (as the main entry heading) as well as different modifications and adaptations based on Hamlet in which 'Shakespeare, William' is an added entry can be brought together in a super record. In current catalogues added entries might do this function but not as explicitly as in super records. In effect, super records are a useful approach for unknown items.
-- With the systematic approach in super records the searcher has the ability to move from works to specific editions to individual items (i.e., actual records in the catalogue which are an opsite extreme of works). The searcher can go forward and backward (for example, by clicking on highlighted elements) to see what variety there are under a voluminous author or title.
-- Super records can overcome some of the shortcommings of online catalogues concerning access to different editions and manifestations of a given work. They would resolve the problem of unmanageable, too many hits that usually results in response to exact searching or keyword searching of a voluminous title such as Hamlet, Bible, etc. For example, searching under Hamlet in some online catalogues will retrieve too many records (for different editions and manifestations, works about Hamlet, as well as works with the title 'Hamlet' written by other writers) and would take a lot of time to browse. With the super record approach, all the retrieved records for Hamlet will be displayed under their particular categories. This will make the search more meaningful and manageable.
-- Another factor which may add to the value of super records is that, since in the online environment the searcher may be a remote catalogue user and may have not physical access to items in a collection, the arrangement of items on shelves should be simulated through a relevant approach in online display. Super records for works can carry out this function through a meaningful arrangement of different representations of a work.
-- In their electronic format, super records for authors and works are dynamic and hospitable to addition, deletion and updating. They are open to links to records for new items catalogued or cancel links to item which are removed from the collection.
-- Super records can potentially extend access to electronic full texts (held in any databases) by providing hyperlinks to them (e.g., through actual URL address or by giving the ftp address). In this sense, they provide links to what is conveniently accessible rather that what is locally held in a collection.
-- Creating super records would be optional for libraries in the sense that they can be made by individual libraries in relation to their actual collection. They are not an ideal listing of all possible categories for authors and works. Those libraries that consider the collocation and displaying of works of voluminous authors and titles important can make them according to their needs.
-- It needs a degree of knowledge about the nature of works and the categories and sub-categories in which they may be recorded.
-- Whilst the concept rely on the computer's ability to provide links at different bibliographic levels, the technology is not available to all libraries yet.
-- The consequences of the concept for cataloguing codes, MARC and Z39.50 need further investigation. For example, how far references and added entries would be needed when links can function as both.
As can be seen, the concept of super records is dependent upon the principle of uniform headings for authors and titles. Uniform title approach is used in super records. This may or may not be provided in online catalogues. Further, it demands a new structure for the catalogue, i.e., the addition of a new file in the database for super records linked to records for items in the master file in the MARC database.
It should be added here that, due to the existing problems in online retrieval and display of works that have many manifestations and for a more useful management of such entities, similar approaches have recently been taken by some writers, for example, by Heaney (1995) and by Ayres, Nielsen, Ridley, and Torsun (1995). This trend will undoubtedly continue until a general acceptable approach is reached for easier catalogue consultation.
In an object-oriented approach, Heaney (1995) re-analyses the nature of works and their publications. He states that the major access to information is by the 'abstract work' and that cataloguing rules and MARC formats should incorporate radical changes mainly in the content of the MARC tags, to address access problems of 'works' and their manifestations. He states that:
The major thrust of cataloging should therefore be in building conceptual models of works and their agents, by which people usually try to find such works (Heaney, 1995: 152).
While Heaney (1995) proposes radical changes to the MARC format, the concept of super records does not require such major changes. In the concept of super records the existing MARC records are used and linked to their relevant super records. However, the structure of MARC needs to incorporate new linking fields, particularly in the Notes area, to maintain bibliographic relationships at different levels (as is displayed in the Prototype Catalogue of Super Records).
In research funded by the British Library Research and Development Department, an experimental prototype OPAC (i.e., the Bradford OPAC) has been designed to study some of the problems in catalogues where there are many versions of the same work or complex multi-part works (Ayres, Nielsen, Ridley, and Torsun, 1996). In place of the single, unique, and self-contained main entry record, the catalogue uses a manifestation concept to group together sets of items that are manifestations of the same work. The authors state that:
The Bradford OPAC is based on a new internal data structure where the manifestations of a work are linked together in the way that, intuitively, an OPAC user would expect them to be. This data structure is geared towards what the users will eventually see and less towards the characteristics of the source records (Ibid: 10).
A major difference between the concept of super records and these two approaches is in the clear demonstration of the bibliographic hierarchy which the concept of super records represents through the categorisation of different expressions and manifestations of a work at different levels. In comparison to the manifestation concept in the Bradford OPAC, the Super Record approach has achieved a user-oriented, systematic multi-level structure through the pre-arrangement of categories and sub-categories and the links between entities at a higher or lower level are directly and clearly demonstrated. As can be seen in Appendix 6 (Sample screens from the Bradford OPAC), the catalogue is more concerned with the general concept of manifestations and does not distinguish between different subcategories within each manifestation. With the manifestations approach the difference between various manifestations is not displayed to the user. In other words, the Bradford OPAC does not display the bibliographic hierarchy. Nevertheless, once this approach is in place, the online catalogue can benefit from advanced features, such as those offered by the Bradford OPAC, for more helpful searching, selecting and display.
All these approaches also imply that the existing cataloguing principles do not adequately address the retrieval and display problems of works that appear in many editions and manifestations. The present structure of the catalogue and of the catalogue record are not flexible enough to incorporate bibliographic relationships between works and their manifestations and to demonstrate the bibliographic hierarchy in a more understandable way.
The concept of super records could provide an avenue for further investigation into the potential of online catalogues to fulfil the collocating function in a more exhaustive and useful way. Nevertheless, the consequences of the concept for cataloguing codes, MARC and Z39.50 need further investigation. For example, how far would references and added entries be needed when electronic links can function as both, and to what extent would MARC need to be restructured? The implementation of the concept may demand a new structure for the catalogue, i.e., the addition of a new file in the database for super records linked to records held in the master file in the MARC database and, consequently, the extension of uniform titles authorities.
Cataloguing principles and rules can elaborate on the concept of super records with respect to their structure, including necessary indexes to super records, the types of categorisations, consistency in the terms used for different categories and also the links between entities at different bibliographic levels. A project can be undertaken to integrate and use authority records, such as name authority records for prolific authors and uniform titles for voluminous works and anonymous classics, to create super records.
I have not elaborated on the categorisations in super records and on the actual records used in this experiment. Categorisations are not exhaustive. Most of the actual records are taken from University of New South Wales Library OPAC and may not be consistent in terms of the format and level of information. The focus of this experiment is on the concept of super record and possible links in the different levels of the bibliographic hierarchy and not on actual records.
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