Proposal by BL: Priority order for additions to authorized access points representing a person (Revision of RDA 9.19)

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17 Responses to Proposal by BL: Priority order for additions to authorized access points representing a person (Revision of RDA 9.19)

  1. John Myers says:

    I’m not at all certain that I agree with 6JSC/LC/12, the approval of which underlies the current proposal. While I agree that the current pecking order leaves room for improvement, I’m not convinced a free-for-all is an appropriate solution. The opportunities seem rife for different agencies to formulate distinct headings for the same person, not realizing that the other has chosen a different addition to disambiguate the access point. Is this a concern widely shared? Is this a concern that we should pray will evaporate when identifiers are more widely implemented in a linked data environment?

    • Kathy Glennan says:

      I don’t think we can criticize this proposal based on disagreement with 6JSC/LC/12, which was approved by the JSC 2 years ago. (It was on the JSC agenda in Nov. 2012, and was published in the RDA Toolkit in 2013.)

  2. Kathy Glennan says:

    I note that the major impact of making the changes outlined in this proposal would be to move from mandating a particular order in which to add personal name attributes to the AAP as part of the RDA instructions to relying on policy statements or application profiles to accomplish a standard order.

  3. Kathy Glennan says:

    Related changes are also needed in The instruction range needs to be changed the 3 times it occurs (– becomes– at:
    – 2nd paragraph
    – final paragraph before the optional addition
    – in the optional addition

  4. Kathy Glennan says:

    So, I think the BL revision intends to convey the following:

    1. Apply as written, with all of the embedded instructions about order (e.g., Spirit is always the last element in the AAP, make all of the other additions before adding birth/death date(s) or period of activity). This is not optional.

    2. Add birth/death dates. This is not optional.

    3. After following 1 & 2 above, add any of the remaining attributes as needed to distinguish between access points. Use cataloger’s judgment to determine which ones to use, and in which order to provide them.

    If I’m correct in interpreting the intent, I would prefer to see the instructions written more clearly about all the attribute instructions after This would mean creating an instruction along the lines of [very rough language — not actually what I would propose as RDA text!]:

    After applying, add any of the attributes in if needed to distinguish one access point from another. Use cataloger’s judgment to identify the appropriate attribute(s) to add to the authorized access point. Also use cataloger’s judgment to determine the best order of these attributes.

    I would like feedback from CC:DA about whether it would be worth trying to develop an alternative approach along these lines.

    • John Myers says:

      In response to Kathy’s analysis and request (August 12, 2014 at 3:27 pm), this seems a reasonable set of guidance. I think, given the “squishy” nature of BL’s proposal that we should develop an alternative to better the chances of an optimal outcome. Caveat: I haven’t actually played with RDA authorities and rarely dealt with more than dates and fuller form of name under AACR2. I defer to colleagues with more experience in this area.

    • Robert Rendall says:

      I strongly support the general intent of this proposal. For as long as we in our pre-linked data world continue to work with AAPs the way we do now, catalogers (or individual cataloging agencies) should have the flexibility they need to construct ones that will be most appropriate to a given situation and most meaningful to catalog users.

      I think Kathy’s suggested approach above makes the effect of these changes clearer and would be worth developing.

  5. Kathy Glennan says:

    If Profession or Occupation is becoming, then the following changes are needed elsewhere in RDA:

    –, 3rd paragraph, final sentence
    For additional instructions on recording dates as parts of authorized access points, see (date of birth and/or death) or (period of activity of the person and/or profession or occupation).

    – (reference should change from to

    The RDA index is also impacted:
    Differentiation of names
    persons with the same name,– [would become]
    other designations,, [would become]

    Other designations for persons with the same name,, [would become]

  6. Kathy Glennan says:

    Justification background: While I think I understand BL’s justification of these changes based on “consistency” — consistent with current/past practice — the actual result will lessen consistency in the creation of personal name AAPs.

    Both consistency and flexibility are not RDA principles (0.4.3). although “uniformity” is [but that seems only to apply to the appendices]. The BL argument would have been stronger if they had tied this proposal into the RDA principles and objectives.

  7. Adolfo Tarango says:

    Addressing John Meyer’s concern about different agencies creating duplicate headings, I would assume this would be mitigated by the fact that the other elements not use in the AAP would be recorded in the authority record. Of course, this would mean catalogers would have to be more proactive about recording this additional data which, based on what I’ve read on various listserves, some catalogers are pushing back on doing.
    I’m generally supportive of giving more leeway to catalogers in selecting the additions that make more sense. I like Kathy’s suggested approach.

  8. Robert Bratton says:

    My interpretation of what the BL is proposing:

    To remove the priority order of preference for categories of qualifiers to person name AAPS

    Each category of qualifiers in RDA – instructs us to use this kind of qualifier if you can’t use any of the preceding categories of qualifiers.

    The current RDA preference goes:
    1) Dates
    2) Fuller form of name
    3) Period of activity or Occupation
    4) Other Term of Rank, Honour, or Office
    5) Other designation

    This proposal contends that RDA is broken because it prefers 3) over 4) and 5).

    It’s really only a problem at 4) where it explicitly states to use Rank/Honour/Office if you don’t have period of activity.

    5) is more vague and states “If none of the additions at– is sufficient or appropriate for distinguishing between the access points…” So you could always argue that Other Designation is more “sufficient or appropriate” than Period of Activity.

    But instead of just removing the preferential restriction at Other Term of Rank, Honour, or Office, this proposal proposes removing all of the preferential restrictions on the qualifiers:

    “The current proposal solves this problem by removing the priority order for additions to authorized access points representing a person, giving cataloguers the flexibility to apply their judgement.”


  9. Steve Kelley says:

    I like the idea of giving catalogers more latitude in making additions to authorized access points. I agree with the approach Kathy offered.

  10. Kathy Glennan says:

    I suggest the following addition to, immediately following the first example box:

    Add the following elements to the name as applicable:
    title or other designation associated with the person (see
    date of birth and/or death (see

    Make further additions if needed to distinguish access points representing different persons, as appropriate:
    a) fuller form of name (see
    b) period of activity of the person (see
    c) profession or occupation (see
    d) other term of rank, honour, or office (see
    e) other designation (see

    Does this seem like it’s going in the right direction? A similar kind of instruction exists for works at

    Of course, if we go down this path, we’ll need to assess those subsequent instructions to see where they might need to be tweaked….

  11. Tracey L. Snyder says:

    I agree.

  12. Adolfo Tarango says:

    My preference would be to somehow make a) fuller form of name, the first choice, but this seems the right direction to take.

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