ALA/ALCTS Subject Analysis Committee
Task Force on Named Buildings & Other Structures

Monday, June 28, 2004 9:30-11:00am
Peabody Orlando, Bayhill Suite IV
Orlando, Florida

Task Group Members: Anne Champagne (regrets), Sherman Clarke, Linda Cuccurullo, Lynn M. El-Hoshy (regrets), Ted Gemberling, Claudia Hill, Shannon Hoffman, Elizabeth O'Keefe

Claudia Hill, the Chair, called the meeting to order at 9:30. After introductions by task force members and guests, the Chair briefly reviewed the task force’s charge and the minutes for the Midwinter 2004 meeting, and then summarized the issues discussed on the task force list-serve since the first meeting.

Several building categories have been discussed on the list in some detail, including ball parks, banks, chapels, churches, stadiums, theatres, and private dwellings. The last named category is particularly problematic. Holkham Hall in England is an example of an entity whose nature is in doubt: is it a private dwelling (and therefore established under LC’s Subject Cataloging Manual in LC’s Subject Authority File (SAF)) or a museum (and therefore established under AACR2 rules for corporate bodies in LC’s Name Authority File NAF))? It was noted that any historic house with a collection of manuscripts was potentially a “corporate body” and a candidate for the NAF. The reason for this is that headings for manuscripts as objects are usually formulated by combining the name of the repository (coded as an X10) with $kManuscript$n[shelfmark]. The indeterminate nature of historic houses was in evidence when the heading for Holkham Hall was moved from the NAF to the SAF within six months of discussing this heading on the task force’s list-serve.

Task Force members acknowledged that changes in function can shunt a building from one file to another: a building may reside in the SAF as long as it remains a private dwelling, or a palace, and then migrate to the NAF when it becomes a hotel, or a museum, or a guest house. Aside from Holkham Hall, another example of this is fortifications. Forts oscillate between files: an active fort is treated as a corporate body, residing in the NAF, but inactive forts reside in the SAF. Castle Clinton in New York City is an example of a previously active fort which is now a national monument of the National Park Service. In fact, there are two subject authority records for this entity; Castle Clinton (New York, N.Y.) is for the inactive fort and the other record is Castle Clinton National Monument (New York, N.Y.), which is used to represent the present-day, altered structure on the same site. Another example is Fort Jay in New York, which is currently in the NAF. Now an inactive fort, the heading for Fort Jay should reside in the SAF, especially since it has been declared a national monument of the National Park Service as part of the formerly extensive costal defense system on Governors Island.

Shannon Hoffman offered the perplexing case of Somerset House in London. Built in 1547 for Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, Somerset House later became a royal residence, and was renamed Denmark House. During the 17th century, Denmark House underwent various alterations, including the construction of the Queen’s Chapel, which was designed by Inigo Jones. In the 18th century, the building ceased to be a royal residence and its name reverted to Somerset House; it was demolished in 1775, and a new structure named Somerset House erected on the site. The Subject Cataloging Manual would require entering the structure under the latest name, Somerset House, but her library has images of the Queen’s Chapel within the structure during the period it was called Denmark House.

Sherman Clarke’s report on FRBR in relation to buildings was discussed. FRBR regards buildings as object entities, residing in FRBR “Group 3,” but it also regards ships as objects, putting it at odds with the current version of AACR2, which defines ships as expeditions, and therefore a subcategory of corporate body. The task force agreed that it was important to consider where a heading was located within FRBR when looking at the issues of establishing headings for buildings and other structures. The reason for this was to determine whether the Subject Cataloging Manual’s rules for establishing headings for buildings and other structures are congruous with the conceptual model of FRBR.

Elizabeth O’Keefe observed that the conflation of corporate bodies with the structures they inhabit created many problems. There is a need to disambiguate headings for corporate bodies from headings for structures. She pointed out that one way of doing this is with the addition of a qualifier.

Ted Gemberling questioned whether disambiguation was always desirable. FRBR is an ontology, while cataloging is a conventional language. There is no need to anticipate conflict, and qualifiers should be used only when two different headings are needed. It was his experience, however, that most works discussing a building also discussed the corporate body associated with it.

Claudia Hill dissented: in the visual materials world, users are more focused on the physical structure of a building, than on the corporate body which inhabits it. She cited the example of patrons at Columbia’s Avery Art & Architecture Library who often search for a building by the name applied to it at a specific point in time. As a cataloger for an architecture library that is a repository for New York City Landmark Preservation Reports, she knows that users search by the name that is used on the landmark report. This is often not the latest name of the building (she instanced the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building located on Broadway in Brooklyn (now occupied by the Republic National Bank), which is landmarked under that name, although the building has been owned by a succession of different banks in recent years).

Ted Gemberling suggested that use of the latest name helps to collocate all material on a particular structure; the bibliographic description (and/or see-references) can supply information on which name the building bore when the image was captured.

Elizabeth O’Keefe reported on the buildings owned by the Pierpont Morgan Library. The McKim Mead and White building (1902-1906) constructed to house Pierpont Morgan’s library collections is known as the Morgan Library; this structure is depicted in architectural drawings and plans, and has been the subject of published works. The official name of the institution that owns this building is the Pierpont Morgan Library; the Library occupies several other buildings, each of which has its own distinctive name. The fact that the building name (Morgan Library), though not established in the SAF, is different from the corporate name (Pierpont Morgan Library) makes it possible to distinguish between the two for cataloging purposes. An example of this is when there is a book on the collections or activities of the institution, as opposed to the physical structure of the building housing the corporate institution, or when a heading is needed for a manuscript owned by the Library. In the case of other libraries or museums, however, the name of the corporate body and of the building it occupies may be identical, making it difficult for the cataloger to indicate the focus of a work.

It was suggested that adding the subdivision $xBuildings to a corporate name would indicate an architectural focus. Pierpont Morgan Library$xBuildings would suffice for a work on all the buildings owned by the Library, but would not do for those seeking material about a specific building belonging to the Morgan Library, such as the McKim Mead & White building or the Phelps-Stokes Morgan House. There is also something confusing about adding the subdivision $xBuildings to a name which may refer to either the corporate body or to a building.

Claudia Hill reported on a response from Patricia Harpring, Managing Editor, the Getty Vocabulary Program, to her question regarding how the Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) handled named buildings. Harpring responded that the AAT does not include the specific names of built works because “all terms in the AAT must refer to a case of many (generic things), not a case of one (specific things).” In addition, Harpring pointed out that the thesaurus would quickly become unwieldy if it had to include the name of every named building under its broader architectural term or every named painting under “Paintings.”

Elizabeth O’Keefe remarked that many visual resources collections don’t use LCSH or LC’s authority files, because many headings for buildings are not there. Sherman Clarke added that visual resources catalogers generally do not formulate headings for buildings in the same way that library catalogers do. Instead of including the place name (and possible dates) in the heading itself, they prefer a more granular approach: the building name goes in one field, and there are separate fields for the location, and for the date(s) built.

Ted Gemberling wondered whether patrons were bothered by the present setup, or was it more of a problem for catalogers. He felt there was some potential for confusion in theatres being in both the subject and the name file (depending on how indexing in the OPAC was set up), but that was relatively minor. But other task force members felt that the split between name and subject was not just confusing for catalogers, but led to the application of two different sets of rules. For example, headings for buildings that land in NAF are supposed to be formulated according to AACR2, which generally does not call for adding place name qualifiers to corporate bodies. This means the loss of an important piece of information about the structure, when that is the focus of a work. Elizabeth O’Keefe noted, though, that many Group 2 entities such as hotels have place names added to them, even though there is no possible conflict with another heading, and no AACR2 justification.

For the record, Julianne Beall, Assistant Editor of the Dewey Decimal System at the Library of Congress, said that PCC was re-naming the NAF and SAF files: their new names would be LC /NACO Authority File (NAF) and LC/SACO Authoirty File (SAF). The acronyms would still preserve the same distinction between names and subjects.

In order to move the task force forward, the Chair suggested that the members examine various building categories, assembling several examples of actual structures within each category, and analyzing the underlying patterns. She supplied handouts containing several different categories of building, with analysis. The example of the Blackfriars Bridge, within the bridges category, was discussed by Shannon Hoffman, who contributed the heading to SAF. The bridge, like many other bridges, has undergone a rebuilding and name change, making the application of the latest name rule somewhat absurd. In the case of Blackfriars Bridge, another bridge preceded this one (Pitt Bridge) but was demolished in 1860. Since there were two separate structures at different times, this would require the creation of two separate SAF records.

The group also discussed church buildings. They fit into several different patterns: many denominations use the same name for the building and for the corporate structure which administers church affairs; within other denominations, such as the Church of Latter Day Saints, several wards share a single structure, which is owned by the central church.

It was agreed that each task force member would choose a building category, compile ten examples from NAF/SAF, indicate what types of bibliographic record the heading was attached to, discuss individual problems, if any, and then compose a 3-5-page report summarizing the issues for that category. It was agreed that members would submit their analyses by mid Fall, with a November deadline for the draft of recommendations.

The meeting adjourned at 11, in time to witness the ceremonial parade of the resident ducks into the Peabody Hotel lobby.

Notes by Liz O'Keefe

... go to other ALA reports ...