Well the heavens moved … finally.
Changes to Existing Headings Already Coded for AACR2
Optionally, add death dates to headings that have open birth dates.
Do not add the date (birth or death) to an existing heading without dates represented by a name authority record that has already been coded “AACR2” or “AACR2 compatible” (including in either case those labeled “preliminary” — 008 byte 33 = d). However, if such a heading must be revised later, add the date(s).
Death dates now may be “optionally” added to personal name headings with open dates. This means that when a patron comes up to you and complains about
Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-
And tell you, “Hasn’t he been in the ground since 1994! Don’t you morons have a clue!?!” Libraries can finally something about it … well sort of, the Library of Congress will only be updating headings with workcat or conflict resolution and wants to keep a close eye on the amount of work all these small heading changes will have on BFM.
BFM, if you don’t know it, is the catalogers’ dirty three letter word, Bibliographic File Maintainence. In general we try to avoid it as much as possible (the manual, go eyeball the record, maybe go find the book type). The automated variety is well loved and is going to be necessary to implement wholesale changes like these. It seems like such a small thing, “oh just stick in a date in that heading” but these things have ripple effects, not just at the Library of Congress but for every single library which depends on the National Authority File.
I’m not sure how I feel about this change. I do so few authority records, maybe 10 a month, so personally this doesn’t really impact me, though I’m sure I could go give some other poor schmoe more work.
Automated authority control isn’t in place in every single library out there. In fact I’d say its a small minority of libraries that actually have systematic automated control of their headings in both the authority record and the bibliographic record. Supposedly, OCLC will be providing some sort of automated feed? (RSS?) for smaller institutions to manage the hopefully small deluge of changes. Hopefully OCLC will be announcing something about this soon.