Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.


The Intent vs. the Letter of the Law: Or, Things Librarians Debate

Cataloging books and other materials can be a dicey matter at times. Often the title, author, and other information are abundantly clear, but not always. Sometimes the publisher or marketing does something funny, other times things are just shoddy or spotty. An example of the former: The Cirque du Freak books have "Cirque du Freak" all over them bigger than anything else, but each book after the first has an individual title (such as Hunters of the Dusk) and they say they are part of the "Saga of Darren Shan" series. So if "Cirque du Freak" is neither the book title nor series title, what is it and how should it be conveyed in the catalog record? The information doesn't fit into the set formula.

Because to clear up confusion in cases like this, there is a formula. Or a standard or convention or rule or whatever label applies. Some take it very seriously and literally, because if each cataloger makes willy-nilly judgement calls we'll have all kinds of inconsistent records that don't match each other for the same items. The rule is that the official title page is decisive (as opposed to cover or spine or whatever). The title comes first, followed by series, author, and other publication information. This makes sense most of the time, because this is what you find most of the time. But consider the two examples below.

If you look at the cover, spine, or verso page--or read the book--this is quite obviously titled How to Grow Up and Rule the World and is a faux supervillain guide written by a faux supervillain author named Vordak the Incomprehensible. The author has extended his character's perspective--that he is the most important consideration and should come first--and extended it to the title page. Vordak is very clearly meant to be understood as the author. But some insist on following the rule unwaveringly, that title is the first thing on the title page, so in some catalogs you'll find this book's name as Vordak the Incomprehensible: How to Grow Up and Rule the World.

This second example is similar--the cover, spine, and verso indicate the book's title is Bunny Party. But the author/illustrator decided to get creative with the title page and made it look like a party invitation. So some catalogs have the book's title as You Are Invited to a Bunny Party Today at 3 PM.


At 12/02/2010 9:51 PM, Blogger Hadrian said...

pet peeve # 345,678.5


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