SAC Task Force on Named Buildings
ALA Midwinter 2005, Boston

Meeting Minutes
Jan. 17, 2005, 9:30-11:00 am

Members present: Anne Champagne, Sherman Clarke, Linda Cuccurullo, Lynn M. El-Hoshy, Ted Gemberling, Claudia Hill, Shannon Hoffman, Elizabeth O’Keefe. Guests: Julianne Beall, K. Jespersen, Erich Kesse, P. Nelson, Bruce Trumble (SAC Chair), Marie Whited.

Task force members and guests were introduced. Erich Kesse, a guest from the University of Florida, described his institution’s IMLS-funded Ephemeral Cities Project, ca. 1830-1910. The project is a historical digital atlas and is described in RLG DigiNews: http://www.rlg.org/en/page.php?Page_ID=20492#article0. The atlas is based on historic fire insurance maps originally created by the Sanborn National Insurance Diagram Bureau.

Erich explained that at the University of Florida, they plan to provide digitized text of name-rich sources and maps for three Florida cities. The headings, for which they hope to establish authority control, include those for individuals, families, corporate bodies, buildings, building types, and occupations. A preliminary list of the headings for one city, Gainesville, resulted in 3,000 headings for buildings. Erich mentioned that the IMLS is interested in expanding the project to other cities and regions in the United States. The resource is intended mainly for use by genealogists who may come armed with personal or family names, addresses, neighborhoods, occupations and named buildings. But the digitized atlas can also be used by architectural and local historians. Erich noted that GNIS includes some building names, though it is used primarily for establishing official place names.

The minutes of last meeting at ALA Annual 2004 in Orlando, Florida, were approved and major themes of that meeting were reviewed for the benefit of those who were not in attendance.

A general discussion of building headings ensued. Sherman remarked that some building types, such as palaces, are defined only for SAF, and therefore may not be used as added entries for the venue of exhibitions. If palaces were established in NAF, this would not be a problem. The question arose as to whether buildings were just part of a larger issue involving a division of authorities into two files. The discussion then turned towards whether the task force should be discussing the advisability of moving all proper names to NAF. Lynn responded that not all entities with proper names are capable of authorship. The examples she provided were chemical compounds and animal names. Lynn pointed out that is this is determined by AACR and that the current policy is to limit NAF to names capable of authorship.

Ted raised the issue of parks. A given park may not be established in the subject file, but the park name, with an administrative subdivision added as $b, is considered a corporate body and established in NAF. The task force was aware that CPSO had proposed a change in establishment of name and subject headings for government-designated parks and forests. This change involved tagging the entity 110 and adding a qualifier “(Agency)” to represent the entity as a corporate body. When it was necessary to assign a subject heading to represent the physical or geographical entity, the heading, minus the “Agency)” qualifier, would then be coded 151 and qualified by place.

Lynn said that inclusion in the NAF was very much tied to AACR. When the ARLIS draft was received by CPSO, they responded that a justification was needed for moving all buildings to the NAF. This justification would require making a case for buildings being capable of authorship, which is an AACR issue. LC is moving away from developing “case law” via LCRIs for situations not explicitly covered by AACR. Instead, future LCRIs will be produced mainly to deal with cases where AACR offered various options. For example, an LCRI was developed for choreographic works, but these instructions should probably be incorporated into AACR rather than offered as an LCRI. Making changes in the formulation of LCSHs is a different situation. LC is responsible for LCSH, with input from users, and can make changes as CPSO sees fit.

Lynn added that there have been times when a need for main or added entries determined the corporateness of a physical object, such as ships. In this case, ships are physical objects, for which logs are produced, and therefore function in some way as corporate bodies. Ted stated that sometimes a cataloger can’t determine whether the building is also a corporate body. He alluded to some buildings which have quasi-corporate identity. Shannon wondered whether buildings should really be 151s since they are physical structures with a geographic extent. Lynn clarified that some structures, which have a geographic extent, such as bridges and tunnels, are coded as 151s.

Ted asked what would happen if a building moved. Erich replied that for the Ephemeral project, they add dates to the heading to indicate the change in a building’s location. Lynn said that catalogers aren’t supposed to do extensive research on the whole history of a building. She added that catalogers have to deal with material as it arrives on their desk and are expected to make decisions based on the information at hand. If catalogers get a publication on a historic house, and there is no suggestion that the structure is a museum, they can set it up as a subject. But if a cataloger received a publication authored by the house, for example, a brochure announcing an exhibition, that would be evidence that the headings should be established as a museum, and therefore belonged in NAF. In addition, Lynn stated that the building categories are intended to give general guidance. Ted asked Lynn why all building headings couldn’t be authorized for name use. Lynn replied that buildings aren’t capable of authorship.

Claudia suggested that we move through the draft final report of the task force. The task force decided to review the report first for content and then to address stylistic changes and editorial corrections posted by members to the task force’s listserve. First and foremost, the task force agreed with the organization of the report and with the conclusion that the task force was not ready to make recommendations on where headings for named buildings should reside.

The task force was satisfied with the preliminary sections on background and the restatement of the charge of the task force. For the background section, Claudia asked if Lynn could supply a fuller account of the history of coding buildings at LC. Lynn said that she felt the information supplied in footnote 3 of the draft, was adequate. Erich stated that GNIS contains some names for buildings, as well as place names, but that the named structures are not necessarily in NAF or SAF. He conceded that digital projects are usually well in advance of NAF. The practice for the Ephemeral Cities project is to use the contemporary name (contemporary for the period covered by the project, not the current name). He added that GNIS gives only a limited amount of information on the history of the building. Lynn said that GNIS isn’t supposed to cover buildings and historic sites, just place names, for the purposes of cartography. Claudia wondered whether map catalogers were a constituency which could be consulted at a later time.

The task force then turned to a discussion of the section of the report on issues and developments. While the draft provided a synopsis of the issues, Liz’s presentation to ACIG on Sunday afternoon on the work of the task force had been more detailed. (See the following URL for Liz’s PowerPoint presentation and a summary of the talk: http://www.ala.org/ala/lita/litamembership/litaigs/authorityalcts/2005midwinter.htm) It was felt that Liz’s approach was an appropriate manner in which to introduce this to an audience for whom this was a new topic. The Chair thanked Liz for her excellent presentation and it was remarked by task force members that a number of individuals in the audience were intrigued by the issues presented in her talk.

Appendix A of the report was then reviewed. The appendix incorporated 105 examples of problematic headings for buildings discussed over the past year by task force members. The Chair asked whether the appendix accurately captured the issues with establishing the headings highlighted in the report. Since the task force did not have time to analyze all rules for formulating each heading in the appendix, it was felt that at this stage, the report was indeed better served by its presentation of the overarching issues with establishing headings for these buildings.

In the section describing the two major areas of controversy, Liz objected to the use of the phrase “a preference for corporateness.” She stated that in many cases, the building type dictated the choice of authority file and that catalogers really didn’t have a choice. Claudia offered explanations for the use of the word “preference” in this sentence. Preference is used in the report to reflect the fact that the choice of a NAF or SAF heading for buildings is not equally weighted. Using AACR2, the cataloger first considers whether there is a corporate aspect to the building prior to establishing the heading. Also, because of ease of heading creation and submission, catalogers tend to prefer creating NAF rather than SAF headings. Sherman stated that it was a question of warrant, rather than preference. He added that the role of the entity in the item in hand dictated the choice of file. Claudia suggested adding to “preference for corporateness” the phrase “when establishing certain building types.” The task force agreed that this provided some clarification in the paragraph. Ted commented that it was easier to code a building as a name, because all building headings in NAF can also be used as subjects, but the converse is not true: building headings in SAF can not be used as a main or added entry. Claudia added that “use studies” (on how catalogers operate, and how catalog users operate) might be helpful in determining how frequently this appeared to be the case.

The task force then turned to the three examples of headings illustrating the first category of issues with establishing buildings, namely those structures which have a change in designation, fabric, function or location. Lynn found the Fort Douglas Heritage Commons heading confusing because of the reason stated for its establishment as a name heading. Judging by the building categories to which it belongs, she would not have questioned it if it had been proposed as a subject heading. Sherman thought that perhaps it should be deleted. Claudia demonstrated that it indeed showed the chequered history of buildings and was evidence of changes in fabric and function discussed in the report along with the difficulty a cataloger faced when trying to decide whether it belonged in the NAF or the SAF. The task force agreed that the Fort Douglas Heritage Commons together with the other two headings were satisfactory examples of headings belonging to this category.

The issue of “economy” (i.e. need for catalogers to be productive) was discussed. Task force members wondered whether this point had been adequately made in the draft. After some discussion, the task force agreed that the draft report covered this issue. Claudia commented that the example of the branch library, the “New York Public Library. Agilar Branch” was an illustration of “economy” since it had been easier to set the heading up as a name rather than as a subject. Liz queried what would have been the alternative heading as a SAF. Claudia responded that in this case, there was no distinctive, competing name for the building and that she would have had to do considerably more research to find out if the building was a named structure appropriate for the SAF. She added that she did provide a cross-reference from the name of the branch in direct order since there was warrant in the text for this form of heading.

Lynn asked whether there was much discussion on the task force listserve about creating distinctive headings to distinguish the building as an object from the building as corporate body. Liz replied that there had been a lot of discussion on this topic but that task force members remain divided on the desirability of this option. Those who are not in favor of creating distinctive headings felt it would lead to multiplying headings in the authority files and confusion for users.

Lynn said that initially there was a division of opinion in the LC group discussing whether to handle parks this way. The decision on whether to treat a park as a name or a subject used to be made on an ad hoc basis, based on the need for a 651 or a 110/710 in the item in hand. This sometimes resulted in records having to be moved from the SAF to the NAF, and as the number of headings for parks increased, it became clear that a better solution was needed. It was for this reason that the current proposal to differentiate between a park as a corporate entity and a park as a physical entity was written. Ted remarked that consistency was a good thing, for both catalogers and users. The task force members all agreed on this point. Linda gave the example of historic houses as presenting the same kind of problem. The task force then agreed with the issues and developments section of the report.

The Chair moved onto a discussion of SACO and NACO Funnels and the area of the draft which dealt with the task force recommendations. She asked whether the draft encapsulated what the task force wanted to say about SACO in general and about the desirability of a funnel. Sherman, as the coordinator of the Art NACO Funnel gave a brief description of the formation of the Art NACO Funnel. He stated that from his experience, some headings submitted to NACO referred to both the corporate body and to the building. In these cases, Sherman advised the submitter to send the heading proposal to SACO or he submitted it himself. The task force felt it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to add an Art SACO Funnel though they realize that setting the Funnel up initially would require some time and effort. Questions which came up were: Is SACO thinking of expanding the funnel projects? Would there be onerous production quotas, for libraries that don’t belong to NACO but want to submit subject terms?

Lynn stated that a funnel would be preferable. She added that it carries with it an assurance that the headings will be vetted by someone who knows both the subject matter and the rules for submission. While submitting through a funnel does not guarantee acceptance, it makes it more likely that the proposals will be well-crafted and hopefully will require less revision by SACO or the submitter. Sherman informed the group that LC would be doing some SACO training before ALA Annual. He thought that NACO trainers would also be involved. Lynn said that there are three existing funnels for the subject areas Africana, African-Americana, and Hawaiian-Pacifica. Claudia asked whether LC would approve an Art SACO or if it was too narrow an area.

Sherman said that just as Art NACO libraries submit headings for non-artist names, individual catalogers could also submit suggestions for non-art-related headings through the funnel. Liz wondered whether there would be a problem with the fact that many libraries dealing with buildings were not art libraries. Would these institutions have some existing apparatus in place for subject term submission? Lynn said that LC would always accept proposals from libraries that aren’t involved in funnels. They would be handled as individual proposals. However, she acknowledged that LC doesn’t have as efficient a process for dealing with situations where a library wants to submit a single art-related subject heading but doesn’t want to be part of SACO. LC might encourage these institutions to submit headings to Art SACO rather than directly to SACO in order to streamline the process.

Bruce, referring to the first recommendation in the draft, asked the task force who would be responsible for establishing the Art SACO Funnel. Claudia replied that perhaps the CAC would discuss this in their meeting at the ARLIS/NA Annual Conference, April 1-6, 2005, in Houston, Texas. Sherman said that some funnels are supported by a professional association while others are coordinated by lone individuals. The Art SACO would not have to be formally run by ARLIS. Sherman suggested that perhaps the first recommendation in the report should read “Advocate the creation of a funnel...” The task force agreed to this suggestion. Shannon thought that the funnel was indeed the best way to collect examples.

Bruce asked the task force whether they were recommending that the proposed Art SACO Funnel work closely with the Art NACO Funnel. Shannon reminded the task force that the issue was not limited to art catalogers. Bruce asked whether the task force did want the Art NACO and Art SACO Funnels to coordinate their activities. Sherman replied that coordination of sorts would be possible. He added that the subject terms wouldn’t be sent to the NACO Funnel but to the SACO Funnel and only when there was an issue about where the heading should reside would the representatives from the funnels interact.

One of the additional recommendations which was suggested on the listserve after the report was written was that a subcommittee be formed to continue the work of the task force. Bruce stated that before a recommendation to form a subcommittee could go anywhere, more documentation on the problematic headings needed to be collected and analyzed. Ted said that there was a tendency to just collect problems that illustrate the thesis you are trying to support but not to do anything with the data. Shannon said that we shouldn’t just collect any problem but that the sample should be a representative one.

The task force agreed that it would be best to establish the funnel first; this would serve to give catalogers some much needed guidance. The funnel coordinators would accumulate examples of building headings that could serve as the basis for future recommendations. Then, a subcommittee could be formed to analyze the headings and corresponding bibliographic data from which to make recommendations. The task force agreed that that perhaps the CAC could be charged with collecting examples. A liaison from the CAC to SAC could report on progress and keep the issue alive beyond the tenure of the current membership of SAC. Sherman asked whether SAC could advise the task force about setting up a SACO Funnel. Lynn said that the SACO Funnels are set up with the support of the SACO PCC. For training, the PCC website indicated that SACO Funnel coordinators contact Antony Franks, Acting Coop Team Leader at afra@loc.gov or phone: 202.707.7920 to discuss SACO training options for its members. Frequently asked questions about Funnels can be accessed at the URL below: http://www.loc.gov/catdir/pcc/naco/funnelfaq.html

Bruce was asked what would happen to the report of the task force once the members came to a consensus on the content. He stated that he had to submit the report to SAC via the SAC listserve after Midwinter in order to get the approval from the SAC members. Bruce added that it may generate additional discussion which might influence the recommendations. He suggested that it might be a good idea to ask SAC for an extension until ALA Annual. The task force members approved of this idea. They also thought that it would give the CAC an opportunity to discuss the report at the ARLIS/NA Annual Conference.

Since Bruce had indicated that the recommendations in the final report would have to be very concrete, Sherman remarked that the proposed Funnel was a recommendation which the task force could not implement. He queried whether any of the recommendations stated in the report were concrete. Sherman asked whether we could recommend using successive entry on a heading. Liz thought that the task force had never explicitly discussed this and that the task force members may have varying opinions on the issue. Bruce clarified for the task force that SAC could not make a change to SCM. He added that the role of SAC was to only endorse recommendations for changes.

Anne posed the questions as to whether the whole issue of named entities was a larger issue which SAC could consider forming a subcommittee to study. Bruce was not sure about this but thought that it would be a good idea to add the recommendation that SAC establish a liaison with ARLIS. The liaison would keep SAC informed with developments at ARLIS, especially with respect to the issue at hand and the recommendations of the task force.

Linda offered to act as ARLIS liaison once SAC officially established the liaison with CAC and the ARLIS Board. However, she was not sure whether she could get funding for both ALA Midwinter and Annual meetings. Liz asked Bruce if liaisons had to appear at both ALA conferences. Bruce replied that some associations send a liaison to only one conference while others attend both conferences. He added that it was also open to the liaison to delegate someone else to appear at a meeting.

In summary, the task force agreed that it would be beneficial to request an extension of their work until ALA Annual and to include the recommendation that an ARLIS liaison be assigned to SAC. Claudia stated that for the afternoon SAC meeting, she would report on the sections of the report agreed on by the task force members and that she would ask for the extension in order to incorporate the recent suggestions by task force members. The meeting concluded with the Chair thanking the task force members for all their work thus far and the guests for attending the meeting.

The meeting concluded at 11:30 a.m.

Submitted by Elizabeth O’Keefe/Claudia Hill
eokeefe@morganlibrary.org / ch255@columbia.edu
Approved 2/14/05


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