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The Cataloging Policy and Support Office is reexamining its policy not to add dates to established headings except in certain situations. That policy has been in force for more than 20 years. During that period, various communities of catalog users have expressed their disagreement with it. The types of headings that are especially criticized for the lack of death dates include artists, such as:
- 100 1# $a Warhol, Andy, $d 1928-
- 100 1# $a Dali, Salvador, $d 1904-
musicians, such as:
- 100 1# $a Bernstein, Leonard, $d 1918-
- 100 1# $a Stern, Isaac, $d 1920-
scholars or literary figures, such as:
- 100 1# $a Borges, Jorge Luis, $d 1899-
- 100 1# $a Paz, Octavio, $d 1914-
and famous political or cultural figures, such as:
- 100 1# $a Nixon, Richard M. $q (Richard Milhous),$d 1913-
- 100 0# $a Diana, $c Princess of Wales, $d 1961-
- 100 0# $a John Paul $b II, $c Pope, $d 1920-
CPSO often receives communications from members of the library community who strongly advocate the need to add death dates to headings and express frustration with LC's current policy. This is an issue not only for catalogers but also for reference staff who must interpret the catalog on the front lines, where users who are completely unaware of the purpose of the existing policy often assume that the catalog is "wrong" or "outdated." Many libraries have indicated that they add death dates to their local catalogs at the behest of their users. For NACO participants, this adds an additional maintenance burden.
Recent email messages to CPSO or reports to the Cooperative Cataloging Team (Coop) have noted that in a growing number of instances catalogers are adding not only death dates to established headings but birth dates as well, even though Library of Congress Rule Interpretation 22.17 prohibits these additions unless they are needed to resolve conflicts.
Over the years, LC has occasionally made exceptions to its policy on a case-by-case basis, some requiring major bibliographic file maintenance. These exceptions have been criticized as being somewhat arbitrary or capricious. CPSO is now able to make large-scale changes to headings in bibliographic records using more efficient technological methods, and many other libraries now have integrated systems that also facilitate BFM. CPSO is therefore considering allowing the addition of all dates to existing headings rather than making piecemeal decisions such as reinstating the use of the 678 or allowing only the addition of death dates. This would mean that CPSO and the Coop Team would no longer need to adjudicate instances where dates are added to existing headings in apparent violation of policies.
Recognizing that any proposal to add dates to existing headings has an impact not only on the LC catalog, but on all the PCC and non-PCC communities, as well as the need for the revision of existing documentation, CPSO invites comment on the following proposal.
Allow the optional addition of dates (birth, death or both) to existing personal name headings at will. (LC and NACO catalogers are aware that LCRI 22.17 requires all new headings to have dates added when they are readily available). Catalogers would not be required to add dates to existing personal name headings (other than to resolve conflicts) but may exercise judgment and add the date or dates if these are judged to be useful.