Monday, March 14, 2005

"Serial Work as Bibliographic Entity"

Kristin Antelman's "Identifying the Serial Work as a Bibliographic Entity." published in the October issue of Library Resources & Technical Services (vol. 48, no. 4, pp. 238-55), winner of Best of LRTS Award.

Antelman is Associate Director for Information Technology, North Carolina Sate University, Raleigh.

Titles and authors are week identifiers for serials works. Antelman quotes Yee: "The title is a frail reed to bear the burden of displaying relationships between works in our catalog.... the title must be propped up with parenthetical additions completely invented by catalogers and difficult for users to predict." ISSNs are also inadequete, since they typically point to manifestation level, rather than abstract work. This creates "appropriate copy" problem which URL resolvers work around through proprietary title equivalency keys (a kind of provisional work-level identifier).

The very idea of a 'work' applies to serials only problematically. Antelman quotes Smiraglia: "A work, at a basic level, is a deliberately, created knowledge-record representing a coordinated set of ideas ...", which applies to serials only sometimes and even then rather loosely. Antelman invokes Wilson and Smiraglia to describe serials as "bibliographic families"; and Svenonius, "super-works". Publishers have found solutions in indecs and ONYX, etc., but libraries should be wary of hitching wagon thereto, since need for intellectual property rights management is over-riding for publishers, while organization of knowledge predominates in libraries.

One conclusion: "We need to put a greater emphasis on relationships between abstract entities and less on identification of the physical item"

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