We ran into a couple of issues completing this project. We noticed, again, the differences between the adaptability and flexibility of RDA and MARC when describing resources. We also discovered issues pertaining to authorship of children’s items. As you will see below, children’s items often list no author, or list editors, illustrators, or corporate bodies as the creator of the work. It is up to the cataloger to determine who should be placed in the creator fields, which could mean issues in discoverability in the catalog.
RDA seems to be a richer way of describing a resource. We ran into this issue over the course of the semester, and if we recall, had much discussion about the future of MARC and its eventual demise. We found in this final project that MARC is stricter and less flexible. For example, there was not much of a provision in the MARC codes/fields for toys that accompany children’s books. Stephen had to place that information in the Notes fields and catalog the overall item as regular text with illustrations. Thus, there would appear to be more flexibility in RDA than in MARC—more details can be put into a given record. Amanda also found this to be the case. For example, the RDA element 6.9 Content Type allowed Amanda to enter two different content types – one for the Cars Character Encyclopedia itself, and a second content type for the accompanying model car and poster. This information was put into a general note field in MARC.
Stephen found that the Jim Henson book, Ride Along the Dinosaur Train did not have an author per se. Stephen listed Jim Henson as the creator and listed his name under the statement of responsibility in both RDA and MARC. However, there was no separate author, illustrator or designer listed—this might make the item tougher to find should it be placed in a real OPAC. This resource is an example of a work with a corporate author only—Jim Henson’s production company put out the TV series on which this book is based. Stephen found that this is a fairly common issue in children’s publishing—teams of writers, illustrators, and designers often collaborate on titles and aren’t necessarily going to be credited on the cover for space considerations. Amanda also found this was the case for the Cars Character Encyclopedia. An entire team of editors, production designers, and publishers were listed in the back of the book as having created it, along with a model car consultant. Looking at the item’s spine and cover it was not clear who the author was. Amanda decided that the editor should be the creator in both MARC and RDA, but she was unsure if she should list the person as “editor” or “author”. After consulting an actual library catalog, she decided that the creator should be listed as an author in the statement of responsibility, as this is what several other libraries did in their records. Obviously, this issue is very much up to the cataloger’s discretion. Both Stephen and Amanda made this call in these records based upon previous experience and other library’s catalogs.
Issues in cataloging arise when the item to be cataloged is not a “perfect” item. It could have accompanying material, such as a movable train, or it could list a corporate body as creator instead of a main author. What is so interesting about this class and what we found in this project, is the amount of creativity that goes into cataloging. When an item is not perfect, the cataloger must ensure that it is all the same discoverable by working within the parameters of seemingly inflexible systems. What we have found is that it can be done, and despite the challenging nature, it is a fun puzzle to put together. Completing a project such as this allows librarians, even those who are not entering into the field of cataloging, to see how records are created and described, which means we will all be better at finding something when it is needed. This project teaches us these skills and more, and allows us to be more well-rounded professionals.