Revision to Instructions for Devised Titles in RDA

July 31, 2015

Revision to Instructions for Devised Titles in RDA



Submitted by Dave Reser, LC Representative

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18 Responses to Revision to Instructions for Devised Titles in RDA

  1. John Myers says:

    This seems a well thought out solution to an issue raised by DNB and to incorporate the needs of the Rare Materials community.

  2. John Myers says:

    I keep going back and forth with a quibble concerning the last example, “I need a dollar” — I’m not convinced it applies the rule as revised. Does simply recording the title to the corresponding musical accompaniment to the choreography satisfy instruction b (or is it d)?

    I think I would have devised a title along the lines of “Figure skating choreography performed to I need a dollar,” drawing upon instruction a. But upon further reflection and drawing from half-remembered proposals regarding works of choreography, I suspect the example is in keeping with the Dance community’s practice.

    All of which leads me to suggest that the examples might be improved by explicitly identifying the instruction(s) being applied, and possibly by organizing them more closely in the order of the instructions a-d.

    • Kathy Glennan says:

      I agree with John’s analysis of “I need a dollar”; this does not reflect:
      1) the nature of the resource
      2) the subject of the resource
      3) the opening words of the resource [well, maybe it does …!]
      4) a brief descriptive phrase

      I also don’t think that the example explanation is correct. None of the other examples start with “devised title proper”. Shouldn’t this just start “Untitled choreography…”?

      To meet John’s recommendation above about identifying the a)-d) being applied, this might just be accomplished by adding example explanations to everything (rather than reorganizing the examples by “type”).

      • Dominique Bourassa says:

        These types of choreographic works/routines are often given the title of the works on which they are choreographed (the example in the proposal is a case in point, but in this case, it also happens to be the opening words of the song/text) or a brief descriptive phrase (for example, Hummingbird and Flower, that appeared on So You Can Dance).

        The problem is that the title of a song is not always the opening words of the song. For example, there is a now famous dance choreographed to “Calling You,” sung by Céline Dion (it also first appeared on So You Think You Can Dance). The opening words of the song are “A desert road from Vegas to nowhere” not “Calling you.”

        Also, the instruction given do not also take into consideration dances and routines choreographed to instrumental music.

        Maybe the instruction should say something like:
        c) the title or the opening words of a text, song, derivative/adapted? work, etc.”

        • Elizabeth O'Keefe says:

          The addition of provision c) to the list is very welcome. I like the wording of c) as proposed; if opening words are involved, I don’t see what else it would be but a text. Adding “the title” is superfluous, because if the resource has a title, it isn’t necessary to devise one. As Dominique noted, the titles of songs aren’t always the opening words–but in that case, you would use the title, not the opening words. Basing a title on the opening words is a useful fallback when a textual resource has no title; over time, texts such as poems and songs often do end up with the opening words becoming the recognized title.

          • Dominique Bourassa says:

            When I suggested adding the title of the adapted work to the instruction, I was not suggesting using this for textual works but for works such as choreographic works for which the title is unknown. In this case, the title of the dance is unknown, what is known is the title of the related/adapted work, which is not the same work as the choreographic (new) work. Therefore adding the title of the derivative/adapted work to the instruction does not seem superfluous to me.

            As I said, for such works, people use the title of the piece of music on which the dance is choreographed or a brief descriptive phrase (I am talking about choreographic works such as dance and figure skating routines shown on television here; not art dances performed on stage with program notes that clearly say what titles choreographers have name their pieces).

            I think the instruction is not complete if it only says use “the opening words of a text, etc.” If we were to follow that instruction, I would have to give the title “A desert road from Vegas to nowhere” to Mia Michaels’ choreography “Calling you” (which is also known as The bench or Park bench dance).

          • Elizabeth O'Keefe says:

            Replying to Dominque’s comment of Aug. 19: I don’t think provision c as it stands would preclude using “Calling You” as part of a devised title for the dance choreographed to the song of that name. I do agree that devised titles for derivative or adapted works of all types would benefit from incorporating the title of the original work, so: Choreography performed to “Calling You”, Parody of LIncoln’s Gettysburg Address, Copy of Durer’s Adam and Eve, etc. I think this would fall under provision b) (the subject of the resource)?

    • Matthew Haugen says:

      I note that the “I need a dollar” example exists also at, and I recall discussion of devised titles for choreographic works as a part of last year’s proposal 6JSC/LC/30

      • Dominique Bourassa says:

        This is a comment regarding Elizabeth’s post above Matt’s (the blog does not allow me to respond directly below her comment):

        I am sorry but I need to disagree. The title of the choreography would not be:
        Choreography performed to “Calling You”
        as Elizabeth suggests but just
        Calling you

        Just like the title of the choreography in the example given is not
        Choreography to I need a dollar
        but simply:
        I need a dollar

        If we were to create the AAP for these we would have:

        Michaels, Mia, 1966- Calling you
        Dean, Christopher, 1958- I need a dollar

        And not
        Michaels, Mia, 1966- Choreography to Calling you
        Dean, Christopher, 1958- Choreography to I need a dollar

        Therefore I don’t think this fits provision b.

  3. Robert Bratton says:

    I think the proposed wording is an improvement to this instruction.

    I agree with John about the “I need a dollar” example. It is a reasonable devised title, but strictly speaking it doesn’t follow the instruction.

    Why does the proposal suggest deleting two examples? Is it because they’re redundant?

  4. Elizabeth O'Keefe says:

    The example “Typescript draft of chapters 3-20 of Natchez pilgrimage” seems at odds with the other examples, which do not contain manifestation-level information.

  5. Steve Kelley says:

    I like this proposal and think it’s well thought-out.

  6. Lori Robare says:

    From Adam Schiff:

    In this example where they’ve added an explanation, it’s not completely clear why the caption is needed only on this example:

    Portrait of General Emiliano Zapata and his staff, Puebla, Mexico
    English language title devised for a painting

    The text of the instruction says “Use the language and script appropriate to the content of the resource being described, except where instructed to use specific terminology. If this criterion does not apply, record the title in the language and script preferred by the agency preparing the description” For visual resources like photographs, paintings, many posters, there is no language or script appropriate to the content, so the “If this criterion does not apply” part of the instruction is invoked. That would mean that all of the examples that are for visual resources should have an explanatory caption, not just the one.

    I also think there are problems in applying the instruction to “Use the language and script appropriate to the content of the resource being described.” Let’s say I have a video of a television commercial broadcast in France. There is no title on the resource, and I need to devise a title for it. The language of the commercial is French. Following the instructions, do I devise a title in French? Or may I devise a title in English?:

    French television commercial for Nesquik cereal

    There’s a reference to for devised titles for moving image resources. “In a devised title for a short advertising film or video, include the name or an identification of the product, service, etc., advertised, and the word advertisement.” There’s nothing here that contradicts the basic instructions in, so there doesn’t seem to be a requirement to have an English devised title for a moving image resource. However, it seems I’m required by to use the word “advertisement”, so now we have two issues: 1) If I am supposed to devise the title in French because the language of the content is French, then obviously I can’t use the English word “advertisement”. That would mean the text of the instruction should be revised to something like “the word advertisement or its equivalent in another language”. 2) Why does RDA require a particular word at all here? Isn’t “commercial” just as valid a word and maybe more informative if I’m cataloging a commercial?

    • Kathy Glennan says:

      To solve the first issue Adam raises above, I think the cataloger simply invokes the Alternative to “devise a title in a language and script preferred by the agency preparing the description”.

      In relation to the potential problems with, I think that is out of scope for this response. If CC:DA wants to pursue this, we would need to assess the situation and determine whether this could go forward as a fast track or if it would need a full-blown proposal.

  7. Lori Robare says:

    From Adam Schiff:

    Just some more thoughts on the instruction to use language and script appropriate to content of the resource. There’s this example:

    Letters from Don Banks to Suzanne Gleeson
    What if we had letters from Fyodor Dostoyevsky to his wife Anna Dostoyevskaya. The letters are in Russian. Therefore RDA requires the devised title to be in Russian unless you invoke the Alternative, yes? In that case, shouldn’t we have an example like this under the alternative?
    Letters from Fyodor Dostoyevsky to Anna Dostoyevskaya Language content of resource is Russian. English language devised title preferred by agency preparing the description

  8. Robert Bratton says:

    One of my colleagues pointed out that both DCRM(B) and (G) do not treat titles based on the beginning words of text as devised titles, while this proposal does. The difference would be in bracketing these kinds of titles vs. not bracketing them.

  9. Matthew Haugen says:

    DCRM commenters supported greater flexibility in devising titles, but also encountered confusion about some of the issues already mentioned.

    First, semantic uncertainty about option c. Opening lines of text are commonly used as titles for untitled single sheet publications containing works in verse (songs, poems) so we support having this option. The opening words are not the title, per se, and are being supplied, but since the source of information forms part of the resource itself, is it “devised” by the cataloger or not?

    If a title is devised or supplied from a reference source, says “make a note to indicate the source of the title proper.” This note satisfies the requirement at 2.2.4 to indicate that the information is supplied from a source outside the resource itself, so brackets are not required by RDA (LC-PCC PS 2.2.4 elaborates on this, though)

    If it IS considered to be coming from the resource itself, it’s presumably not coming one of the excepted sources at so a note on source of title would still be needed.

    So in either case it would be good to see an example at such as “Title devised from opening words of text.”

    Secondly, since refers back to these instructions for devising preferred titles of untitled works, and since both title proper and preferred title are core elements, either these instructions need to take that into account or may also need to be revised. In some cases, the two will be identical, but we note that common devised titles like “Typescript draft of chapters 3-20 of Natchez pilgrimage” include manifestation-level information that would not be appropriate for the preferred title of the work; accordingly, additional guidance may be needed here and/or at

    • Matthew Haugen says:

      Ultimately, I do think that treating non-title text on the resource as a title is not always a good option, so I hesitate to treat opening words as a “title from the resource” but rather as one option for devising a title which catalogers may only sometimes want to employ. In some cases, layout, design, etc. would make it impossible to tell which words are “the opening words” and such words on the resource may not be descriptive of the resource, and could actually be misleading; or would not do much distinguish the resource from different resources which might have the same opening words, as in forms, decrees, etc.

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