Miller's Defense of Subfield V

From Wed Feb 14 15:54:26 1996
Date: Wed, 1 Feb 1995 16:28:28 -0500
From: "Rebecca S. Guenther"
Reply to:
To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: 655/$v both/and

Date: Tue, 31 Jan 1995 21:52:15 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 655/$v: both/and

Much of this debate (relative to Proposal 95-2) seems to assume that we must choose between 655 and a possible new $v for form/genre access. Lying behind "this" assumption is another one (IMHO) -- that f/g access is unitary, and that one technique can be discovered which will sufficiently provide it. I propose that we unpack this just a bit.

When a catalog user is looking for a particular subject content, manifested in a particular bibliographic form, then a $v technique for providing such access may prove to be very useful.

When a catalog user is looking for an item "primarily" in terms of its nature as a manifestation of f/g, then use of 655 (or 755?) is appropriate.

The two types of needs are not identical and should not be conflated. These two types of needs may be satisfied, for different patrons, by one item in a collection. To use one of Martha Yee's examples, the Hearst Metrotone News may be sought by one person as a newsreel "in and of itself", and by another person who is primarily interested in Death Valley and secondarily interested in aerial photographs of it.

I feel increasingly that we're pursuing a red herring in attempting to decide which technique will take care of all of our needs.

I also feel that the discussion over whether or not to define $v for form subdivisions should not become a debate over implementation timelines. I know how important that all is, but letting that concern drive the decision is putting the cart before the horse. The central question for me is, do we want to allow ourselves the "power and possibility" of distinguishing form from topical subdivisions, or don't we? I advocate that we approve the subfield, allow ourselves the option, and then worry about implementation, which can take as long as it needs to.

David Miller
Levin Library, Curry College, Milton, MA

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