OLAC Cataloger’s Judgment Questions and Answers

Volume 37 no.1 March 2017

The Teleology of Naturally Occurring Objects


A local retired art educator (professor? public school teacher? –no one knows) died in the past year, and her daughter uncovered a cache of stuff her mother had collected over the years. She gifted it to the Art Department here. Don’t know what they may have kept from it, if anything. They regifted it to the library, which does have a fairly amazing collection of 3-D objects for an academic library. Our Educational Resources librarian accepted some of it, and I’m charged with cataloging it. Two are fossils embedded in pieces of rock. I got enough information to catalog them from the chairman of the Department of Geological Sciences here, he’s the local expert. But the woman apparently picked them up off the ground, these are not commercially-packaged specimens. (Indeed, the professor said one was probably from Illinois, it had a lot of this kind of rock, and the other might even be from Indiana, as there’s a lot of dolomite here.) This was new for me; I dug up what I could on such things:

  • • AACR2 Chapter 4 has instructions for including only a date in the publication area for unpublished materials.
  • • Urbanski’s Cataloging Unpublished Nonprint Materials (1992) echoes that, saying to try to give a date if at all possible.
  • • RDA doesn’t seem to say much of anything different in its discussion of Production (as opposed to Publication, Distribution. or Manufacture.)
  • • Olson’s Cataloging of AV Materials (1998) has a paragraph on naturally-occurring objects, saying that no date is included in the 260 but should be given in a note. Her example is ash collected from the eruption of Mount Saint Helens, with the date of the eruption in a note.

The only date I have is what the professor said, ca. 400 million years old for one, ca. 300 million years old for the other. I also asked Kelley McGrath, who used to catalog this stuff here. She agreed that it looked like I had no 260/264 at all. I’ve almost finished the cataloging—it’s pretty short—for one of the rocks and did not include any 26x field. Tried using the Connexion Validate function. It validated, didn’t get an error message. Will it allow me to set holdings and export? I have the validation level for bibliographic master records set to Structure, the lowest level, for setting holdings; and to None for Export. (Both are at Tools/Options/General/Validation Level Options if you don’t remember.) This is, obviously, a new master record. My one remaining question is what do I put in DtSt and Dates? The note I have in my 520 includes this sentence: “The specimen dates from the Silurian period, about 400 million years ago.” I’m pretty stumped.


You dug up what you could. Very cute. If you’re cataloging these items under RDA, I’m thinking that you really need to have a 264 field (loath as I am to disagree with Kelley), although under AACR2, you would not. Neither AACR2 nor (to an even greater extent) RDA is particularly helpful with naturally occurring objects. Guess they are thought to describe themselves without a cataloger’s help. One could argue that what RDA says about “production statement” cannot strictly apply to naturally occurring objects: “A statement identifying the place or places of production, producer or producers, and date or dates of production of a resource in an unpublished form. Production statements include statements relating to the inscription, fabrication, construction, etc., of a resource in an unpublished form.” Read strictly, the way it’s defined seems to imply some sort of intention or agency. Naturally occurring objects would not seem to involve this sort of intention or agency, unless we want to get teleological about things, not to say downright theological. But that “etc.” could be read as including natural objects, and I think that’s the intention.

Under RDA, I think we would have field 264 with the illogical “[Place of production not identified]” and “[producer not identified],” followed by the estimated date in whatever approximation your professor offered. My suggestion would be along the lines of: “[between 443,000,000 B.C. and 419,000,000 B.C.?].” In fact, I might be inclined to leave the question mark off all together, there being so much speculation already built into the “between … and” construction. On the other hand, AACR2 Chapter 10 is clear on not including place (10.4C2), “publisher” (10.4D2), or date (10.4F2) for naturally occurring objects, and on not supplying the AACR2 Latin abbreviations for the unknowns. In MARC terms, that means no 26X field. That in turn probably also means that DtSt would properly be coded “n” and both dates coded as “uuuu”. As far as the coding of DtSt and Dates is concerned, DtSt would be coded “b” for B.C.E. dates and both Date 1 and Date 2 would be coded with four blanks. Instead, you would use field 046 to code the dates. Code subfield $a according to the type of dates you are inputting into the 046 field. For instance, if your local expert has suggested an age of roughly 400 million years old, the 046 would be as follows:

046 s $b 400000000

If he has suggested a geological period or a range, the 046 would be along these lines (with 443-419 million years ago being one estimate of the Silurian Period):

046 q $b 443000000 $c 419000000

You may want to credit, either by name or in some other manner in your 520 or another note, your local expert as the source of the estimated dates and/or places, as appropriate


It’s Sony a Game


I am attempting to catalog a PlayStation 4 video game with subtitles. I’ve never run across this before. I noted the subtitles in a separate 546 and in the 041 field but should I include a 655/0 Video recordings for the hearing impaired?


Mentioning the subtitles in field 546 and coding for subtitles in field 041 subfield $j both make sense. Because there are no appropriate genre/form terms specifically covering video games for the hearing impaired, your choice of “Video recordings for the hearing impaired” also seems proper.

Flipping the Switch


When you upgrade a Name Authority Record in the authority file, will the relevant access points “flip” on controlled fields on OCLC bibliographic records automatically or do you additionally have to make sure you have a 4XX with the old form (coded “$w nne” or “$w nnea”, as the case may be)? I’m trying to figure out what triggers the flip.


My colleague Robert Bremer responds: “The old form does not have to be present as a reference. It only matters that an existing bib heading was controlled to an authority record. The text string in controlled bib headings will automatically change. You can usually watch it happen by changing a heading and then a few minutes later searching to see that the bib record headings have been updated. So, it’s just that the authority 1XX is different from what it was that triggers the updating of the bibliographic records.”