Application of Conventional Collective Titles for Compilations by Single Authors under RDA

ANSS Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee
Question/Answer on cataloging issues – September 2015

By Isabel del Carmen Quintana, Harvard University

Question: How are conventional collective titles for compilations by single authors applied differently in RDA?

Resource Description and Access (RDA), the current cataloging rules, discusses the use of collective titles in rule 6.2.2.10. The basic rule is: If a compilation of works is commonly identified by a title or form of title in resources embodying that compilation or in reference sources, apply the instructions at 6.2.2.4-6.2.2.7. These instructions tell us to use the title on the piece or from the reference sources. For other compilations, we apply the instructions at 6.2.2.10. These instructions tell us to use a collective title. [Emphasis added by author.]

Therefore, if one follows the aforementioned rules, the cataloger will assign a title for the form of work (i.e. works, novels, essays, poems, etc.) if the work is NOT commonly identified by a title or form of title in resources embodying that compilation or in reference sources.

For example: A book of essays, The Domestication of Dogs in Prehistoric Times, is written by Isabel Quintana.

It would be cataloged as follows:

100 1 Quintana, Isabel.

240 10 Essays. Selections

245 14 The Domestication of Dogs in Prehistoric Times

However, the phrase “commonly identified” in “commonly identified by a title or form of title in resources embodying that compilation or in reference sources” is rather vague and has been interpreted differently by various catalogers.

In 2013, the Library of Congress, issued a power point as part of its training materials on how to catalog compilations. The power point is titled: RDA Special Topics : Compilations & Collaborations and was written by Ana Lupe Cristan (Dec. 2011) ; revised by Kate James (Aug. 2013). It is available here: http://www.loc.gov/aba/rda/Refresher_training_dec_2011.html

On slide 5 it states the two main differences from AACR2 regarding compilations by one author. One is that we no longer use “Selections” alone. “Selections” must always follow a form title (i.e. Works. Selections, Essays. Selections, etc.) The other main difference is that we “don’t consider if the title is ‘distinctive’ or not.”

Slides 6-8 go on to explain the second main difference more fully.

From slide 6: 240 conventional collective titles are used for compilations of works by one creator – unless the work has a commonly known title.

  • Whitman’s “Leaves of grass” or
  • Neruda’s “Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada” (Twenty love poems and a song of despair)

From slide 7: For resources being cataloged for the first time, because this is the first publication of that compilation, do not consider the question of “commonly known” and add a 240 with a conventional collective title.

  • Complete works = use “Works”
  • Complete works in a single form = use term chosen by cataloger; not just for textual works!

From slide 8: If your resource is a compilation by a single creator, determine if that compilation has become known over time by a title and use that title, otherwise use a conventional collective title. [Emphasis added by author.]

Catalogers have had questions about when a title is considered “commonly known” and there has been discussion on the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) list-serve.

Let’s look at some examples. If I published the book on dogs mentioned above, is my compilation of essays “commonly known” under the title “The Domestication of Dogs in Prehistoric Times?” The issue has particularly come up in terms of books of poetry or short stories, since a single poem or short story is rarely published on its own. So if an author publishes a new book of poems, does the cataloger always have to add the collective title “Poems. Selections?”

The Library of Congress has issued an RDA LC-PCC Policy Statement at 6.2.2.10.3 stating that they will always use a conventional collective title for compilations of works by one author. However, the PCC has not officially agreed with this decision.

If one follows the above rules to the letter, you will have records as follows:

100 1 Quintana, Isabel.

240 1 Essays. Selections.

245 14 The Domestication of Dogs in Prehistoric Times.

 

100 1 Quintana, Isabel.

240 1 Poems. Selections.

245 1 Mayan myths in poems.

 

100 1 Quintana, Isabel.

240 1 Poems. Selections.

245 1 Navajo myths in poems.

The problem is that the indexes in our systems usually file under the 240. Therefore, we could have an index that looks like this:

Quintana, Isabel. Essays. Selections.

Quintana, Isabel. Poems. Selections.

Quintana, Isabel. Poems. Selections.

A patron would not readily see that the library owns the book “Navajo myths in poems.”

Also, although the conventional collective title could be extremely useful for large indexes, for example the works of Shakespeare, they would be less useful for small indexes. If you have only one book of short stories by a single author, you may prefer that book to file under the title of the book in your index, instead of the conventional collective title.

As stated above, there has been some discussion about this issue among catalogers. However, since we all accept bibliographic records from many sources, it is good to know how the Library of Congress is cataloging compilations. As for the rest of the PCC libraries, as well as other libraries, we are currently free to follow the policy or not. Some libraries are taking a practical approach, using the conventional collective title when it makes sense for their catalog, and not using it when it doesn’t make sense.

This is an admirable approach, since we should always consider our users when we are cataloging. And yet, we must keep in mind that libraries are accepting bibliographic records from various sources at an increasing rate. Therefore it makes sense to make sure that our users are aware of these discrepancies, so that their search strategies are effective.

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