SAC Task Force on Named Buildings
ALA Midwinter 2004, San Diego

Minutes of meeting
Jan. 12, 2004, 9:30-11:00 a.m.

Members present: Champagne, Clarke, Cuccurullo, El-Hoshy, Hill, Hoffman, O’Keefe; also, Trumble

Claudia Hill, the Chair, called the meeting to order at 9:30. After introductions by task force members and guests, the Chair reviewed the group’s charge and schedule, then asked Sherman Clarke to describe what action the PCC Task Group on Name versus Subject Authorities had taken on the issue of named buildings. [cf]

Sherman Clarke reported that the Task Group had studied H405 entities, making recommendations on which categories should be moved to the name file and which should remain in the subject file. Several categories reviewed by the Task Group were of interest to art catalogers, including art works and headings for buildings and other structures. The Task Group recommended that art works be moved to the name file; in 1997, the Cataloging Advisory Committee (CAC) of the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) drafted and submitted to the CPSO a LCRI on formulating uniform titles for works of art, which was accepted with some revisions. The Task Group took no action on building names, noting that art librarians favored treating these entities as names, primarily due to ease of submitting proposals for named buildings, and suggesting that the issue be revisited once this community had submitted recommendations.

Sherman noted that in 1995, when the Task Group issued its final report, the work flow for NACO submissions was much smoother than for SACO. In the intervening years, the procedures for SACO proposals have been greatly streamlined. He asked Lynn El-Hoshy of the CPSO to comment on whether the SACO process was likely in the future to become even easier. Lynn El-Hoshy described the SACO submission process, and possible changes that may be made to SACO participation as the result of the deliberations of the PCC Task Group on SACO Program Development. Up until now, participation in SACO has been more informal than NACO and PCC, which require formal membership, training, and a commitment to an annual quota. Some members of PCC were uncomfortable with SACO being so unstructured. At present, anyone can propose a subject heading, though headings are not added to the authority file until after they have been reviewed.

SACO has been very successful. It has conducted numerous workshops, trained many catalogers, and been the avenue through which many headings have been added to LCSH. But the increased work load it represents has led LC staff to discuss how to make the process more efficient, and possibly more formal. The Task Group debated whether institutions should be asked to apply to become SACO members and commit to a certain number of proposals each year. After some deliberation, the Task Group came up with a very modest quota (ca. 5 proposals a year). They made it very small, since some libraries with specialized collections may submit only a few proposals a year, but these may be very valuable.

In terms of the mechanics of submission, the introduction of a Web form has made the process smoother (formerly, proposals had to be sent in writing or by fax). The reviewers can transfer the data in the Web form without re-keying into a Voyager authority record. Proposing libraries can see the proposal in the LC authorities file (this lets them know that LC has received the proposal). Some downsides of the Web form: you can’t get a text for proposals which have been changed; you can’t save your proposal, and you lose the data unless you enter it first in a word-processor and then cut and paste; and diacritics must be spelled out and enclosed between parenthesis as they do not travel from Word or Notepad to Voyager.

The Task Group had a long meeting at LC (summarized by Lynn El-Hoshy during her report at the first session of SAC). Its main recommendation was to make the SACO component a more formal program, with two categories: institutional members, who will have more privileges, a more efficient submission process, and a quota; and non-members, who may still submit proposals. This restructuring is expected to help with some work flow and quality issues arising from the current arrangement. These include the amount of time required to review headings, and to give submitters feedback, and the extra revision required for proposals submitted by less experienced catalogers who are not familiar with all the relevant LCSH policies (a consultant’s report indicated that more changes were required for SACO proposals than for proposals submitted by LC catalogers). But most rejected proposals are resubmitted, with the requested changes made, and are eventually accepted.

Rejected proposals with some merit remain in the LC authorities database, but are not available to those who visit the LC site. Sometimes LC will annotate a record with a note that it is going to be revised and resubmitted. They don’t mind deleting records that contain only work citations, but not substantive supporting citations. Every month, they review these in-limbo records, and decide which to delete.

Lynn El-Hoshy added some background on how proposals are handled by LC prior to being sent to OCLC and RLIN, and stated that users should keep in mind that not all headings in LC Authorities on the Web are authoritative headings. Several attendees assured Lynn that even so, access to the LC catalog headings via the LC's Web, including authority records, unauthorized headings, and "old catalog" headings is a wonderful resource, and we take advantage of it frequently.

Continuing the history of the named buildings issue, Elizabeth O’Keefe, Chair of the Cataloging Advisory Committee of ARLIS/NA, gave the background to the submission to the CPSO of a draft of an LCRI on headings for named buildings. The rule interpretation combined instructions based on SCM H1334, AACR2 24, and LCRIs related to AACR2 24, and called for establishing named buildings as corporate bodies, with earlier/later forms for changes in building name.

The CAC opted for this approach in order to cope with the difficulties posed by the current guidelines. H1334 directs catalogers to establish a single heading for a building, and to refer from variants (including earlier names). The cataloger must also add a BT consisting of the category of building or structure represented by the named building, qualified by place, e.g. Office buildings$zIllinois$zChicago. This presents problems when buildings undergo name changes, which are often accompanied by changes in the fabric and/or function of the building (e.g. from an office building to a hotel); when buildings are moved from one location to another; and when buildings with the same name are erected in different places, or successively on the same site.

Situations of this type present problems even when cataloging monographs. As library cataloging expands to include images, hard copy or digital (for photos, prints, postcards, drawings, etc.), these rules become increasingly problematic, since images capture a building at a particular point in time. Catalog users are confused by metadata which contradicts the information on the image (e.g. the metadata for a postcard captioned “Reliance Building” refers to the building as the “Hotel Burnham,” the latest name for the building). Elizabeth O’Keefe noted that she and Sherman Clarke work with communities outside the library world that catalog images; library standards and files such as LCNAF and LCSH are increasingly being adopted by these communities, but it is harder to make the case for their usefulness when the rules for establishing headings for buildings do not work well.

The CAC’s proposal attempted to address the problem by reclassifying buildings as corporate headings. This would address the issue of earlier and later name forms (well-established practice for corporate bodies, but not for subjects), but would not entail a change in the tagging currently used for buildings in the LCSH database. Most of these headings are tagged as 110’s, but coded as inappropriate for main or added entry (so they may be used only as 610’s). However, the proposal did not present a justification for the change in entity type, and the CPSO in consequence returned the proposal, noting that this was an AACR2 issue and that the change could not be made without a justification based on AACR2 and FRBR.

At the 2003 annual meeting of ARLIS, the CAC discussed the CPSO response, and generally agreed, that it would be difficult to justify classifying buildings as corporate entities according to the definitions presented in AACR2 and FRBR. Nevertheless, the committee was reluctant to abandon the issue, since the cataloging problems remained unsolved. When the chair of SAC, David Miller, invited the CAC to deliver an informal report in Toronto on subject matters of interest to art librarians, Elizabeth O’Keefe accepted, thinking it would be a chance to get the input of other catalogers on the issue, and hopefully, come up with some other way of resolving the problems, if the corporate body approach was ruled out. The report at the SAC meeting at the annual conference in Toronto was received with interest; after some subsequent exchanges, the incoming chair of SAC, Bruce Trumble, proposed establishing a task force to address this issue.

Lynn El-Hoshy responded with a history of the treatment of headings for buildings and other structures within LCSH. In the early days of MARC, when cataloging was divorced from MARC coding, catalogers created paper bibliographic records which were tagged and coded by others. Buildings that shared the same name as the institution occupying them (many churches, museums, monasteries, etc. fall into this category) were assigned the same heading as that used for the corporate body, and were tagged as 110’s. Buildings which did not share the same name as a corporate body were tagged as 150’s. When catalogers began to do the tagging themselves, they realized that this represented an inconsistent treatment of the same type of entity, and decided to code all headings for buildings as 110’s. However, they preserved the distinction between headings that also represented true corporate bodies, and headings that represented merely buildings (the records for the latter category are coded in the 008/14 as unsuitable for use as main or added entries, and contain a 667 note indicating that the heading is not valid for name usage). The policy for establishing named buildings was to use the latest name only, since a building was regarded as a single physical entity, and since many name changes (e.g. of sports stadiums) do not reflect changes in the building itself, merely in the ownership or sponsorship. However, they probably did not consider the issue of buildings that started as one type of structure, and expanded, or were greatly modified, into another, physically different structure. Having separate headings might be justifiable in the latter case.

Changes in function are another issue. Claudia Hill described the case (not uncommon) of a palace, considered a non-corporate body, which becomes a museum, considered a corporate body. The change means that the heading moves into the name file, losing the BT for building type. Another complication arises when a building whose name changes also changes function. The BT on the authority record changes to the new function—yet a work may discuss the building from the standpoint of its former function. This is confusing for catalog users. Lynn El-Hoshy suggested that multiple BT’s be added to the subject authority record to reflect the earlier and later functions of the building in time.

Lynn acknowledged that for the most part, LC catalogers have not tried too hard to distinguish between the name of the corporate body and the name of the building. As a practical matter, most monographs are written about both aspects of a building, and cover the building over its whole history, rather than merely during a particular time period. She cited as an analogy the use of the same place name as a heading for jurisdiction (110) and as a topical heading (151).

Lynn also gave some background on LC’s heightened concern about matching cataloging practice to cataloging theory. Over the years, LC has been criticized for seeking ad hoc solutions; for example, the Task Group on Name versus Subject Authorities was dealing with what was the easiest or most efficient way to do things. It has also been criticized for creating too much codification (e.g. the LCRI’s) instead of leaving more to the cataloger’s judgment (this was a criticism of British librarians, who do not, however, do as much shared cataloging). But now LC is working to develop more conceptually based approaches to cataloging, such as FRBR, and trying to avoid creating rules or guidelines which serve as an unnecessary gloss on AACR2.

It was within this context that the CPSO rejected the CAC’s proposal. A very strong rationale would have been needed to begin treating buildings as corporate entities; moreover, the CPSO felt the change requested was beyond its powers, and would require going to the CC:DA and requesting a change to the AACR2 definition of corporate bodies. Being a named entity does not necessarily qualify a heading for the name file; chemicals are named entities, too.

Lynn El-Hoshy questioned whether buildings could be regarded as works of art, and therefore treated as uniform titles. This was the rationale for moving headings for named art works from the Subject Cataloging Manual to an LCRI. Parallels with uniform titles for motion pictures were also drawn; that is, a building, like a motion picture, represents the work of a number of people and would usually be a title main entry rather than being entered under architect. Though a case of sorts could be made in theory, some task force members thought this would be very artificial.

Lynn also asked about the loss of syndetic structure that would be the result of moving building headings to the names file. There was general agreement that the BT’s are useful, although they could reside instead on the bib record, similar to the way that [City]—Buildings, structures, etc. headings have moved from the authority record to the bib record.

Elizabeth O’Keefe asked whether it would be impossible to have separate headings for earlier/later forms within the subject file. Currently there are none, but the ability to supply them for buildings would solve a great deal of the problems that arise when establishing a named building that has undergone name changes over time.

Lynn El-Hoshy agreed that latest entry is the guiding principle for LCSH. Latest name is the rule for place names within LCSH, though some exceptions are made, e.g. for the countries associated with the Soviet Union. When a rationale can be made, they have departed from the latest entry principle. Ann Champagne suggested that the Soviet Union example might be used as a model or justification for earlier/later names for buildings.

Claudia Hill questioned whether users would be confused by variants of earlier/later names. Lynn noted that there may be true variants of earlier or later name forms, e.g. vernacular versus preferred form for a building that later changes names entirely. But this could be handled. She also pointed out that buildings rebuilt on the same site are already being set up as separate headings in LCSH. A similar case could be made for instances when the fabric of the building changes significantly.

Sherman Clarke remarked that the task force appreciated the difficulty in making a major change of this kind, and found it very illuminating to hear the background to this issue. It helped art librarians understand CPSO’s response better (and also to realize that we should have anticipated that a justification was required).

Lynn El-Hoshy noted that it would be necessary to consider the change in light of its impact on existing files. How much time would it take from LC’s other commitments? How many headings would need to be changed?

Sherman Clarke inquired how buildings were treated by FRBR. Lynn said she could not speak to that. The Chair asked Sherman to look into the FRBR issue, and thanked Lynn, Sherman, and Elizabeth O’Keefe for providing a history of the issue. She then proposed that the task force start by gathering examples of buildings that have changed name, function, etc., and seeing how these names would be handled according to the various scenarios (i.e. Building as corporate name, building as subject (status quo), and building as subject, with earlier and later forms allowed). The examples should be accompanied by a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the various methodologies as suggested by Bruce Trumble.

Lynn El-Hoshy noted that structures as well as buildings are covered in H1334. Built structures with a geographic extent, e.g. bridges, tunnels, canals, are tagged as 150’s now, not as 110’s. Are there problems with these headings, too? The task force will look into this.

In many cases, the institution and its building are for all practical purposes inseparable, e.g. hotels, restaurants, clubs, churches. But LC has run into problems with making decisions on a somewhat ad hoc basis. For example, current policy is to treat as corporate bodies forts that continue to exist into the 20th century, and to consider forts that have ceased to operate as buildings. But they have had communications from institutions contributing to NUCMC, who catalog the papers pertaining to 19th century forts, and therefore require that the forts be established as true corporate headings.

Elizabeth O’Keefe commented that as we move beyond the printed book world into archives, visual materials, and digital libraries, there will be increased demand for named buildings that reflect different stages of their history, not just the latest name.

Sherman Clarke volunteered to work on the heading for the Canadian Centre for Architecture building (this heading has the added complication of English/French versions). Shannon Hoffman volunteered to work on the heading for Nauvoo Temple. The other members of the task force will choose buildings to work on, and share their research.

The meeting concluded at 11 a.m.

Submitted by Elizabeth O’Keefe
Approved 1/22/04
ch rev. 6/17/05

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