Revision to Instructions for Commentary, Etc. Added to a Previously Existing Work (

27 July 2016

Revision to Instructions for Commentary, Etc. Added to a Previously Existing Work (

Submitted by: Dave Reser, LC Representative

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29 Responses to Revision to Instructions for Commentary, Etc. Added to a Previously Existing Work (

  1. Robert Bratton says:

    I have shared this with one of the law cataloging lists and am awaiting responses. My initial reaction is: Option A: Maybe, Option B: No, and Option C: NO!

    I think the instructions are very clear as they are, but I like how Option A shifts the emphasis from how the resource presents itself to cataloger judgement. I think this is closer to actual practice.

    I think Option B is too terse. I think these instructions need to remain, and thus dislike Option C.

    These instructions have been very helpful to catalogers dealing with law commentaries. Some law commentaries are very extensive, while others are so minimal you wonder why they bothered.

  2. Teressa Keenan says:

    I am ok with this proposal. I like option A the best. It emphasizes flexibility and cataloger’s judgement while providing relatively clear guidance. I’m not fond of option B and I very much am opposed to option C. For those of us who don’t deal with compilations very often the extra guidance is appreciated. Both options B and C make assumptions that may not apply to all catalogers, leaving some without the guidance they may need.

  3. Robert Bratton says:

    Comment from an LC law cataloger (who mentioned that the Law Team was not consulted regarding this proposal):

    “I haven’t had time to go over the proposal with a “fine tooth comb”, and the Law section will probably meet to discuss it next week (informally since it is “production only” month, meaning no meetings to interfere with cataloging), however my inclination is that this should be a matter of cataloger discretion to enable us to deal with a wide range of publishing patterns that we encounter (which at LC, means from virtually all jurisdictions, cultures and time periods). Sometimes a “commentary” is really a work in itself that users are looking for and is cited under the commentator, and sometimes a commentary is just an “added on” in which case, users are looking under the main work). Sometimes the commentary consists of nothing more than glorified annotations, and sometimes it is an encyclopedic treatise that dwarfs the original work.” My concern is that any “definition” based on what the people writing rules have in mind won’t work for types of literature they don’t routinely encounter. As an LC law cataloger who also works with Hebrew materials, “I’ve seen it all”, and the more left to cataloger discretion the better.”

  4. Kathy Glennan says:

    I’m confused by the 2nd paragraph in Option A.

    The first paragraph (if/then) lays out when to construct an AAP to represent the commentary as a work.

    The 2nd paragraph (not identified as conditional — so it must still belong to what you do based on the 1st paragraph) says to construct the AAP for the compilation — which is essentially “title main entry”.

    This means, I think, that Option A says that a “previously existing work + commentary” that emphasizes the commentary aspect has to be treated as a compilation. There’s just an extra instruction to identify the commentary in this case. Note that there is no instruction to separately identify the previously existing work. I don’t think that addresses this situation — although I’d be happy to be corrected on this point.

    • Kathy Glennan says:

      I’d be happier with option A if that 2nd paragraph was removed, but then I think it doesn’t solve the problem LC is trying to fix:

      “Apply the instructions at to construct an authorized access point for the compilation of the previously existing work and the commentary, etc.”

    • Robert Bratton says:

      Kathy, the second paragraph doesn’t equate to “title main entry.” It says to use the “authorized access point representing the previously existing work.”

      The instructions as written and Option A in the proposal allow for a commentary being considered either a new work, or an expression of an existing work.

      • Kathy Glennan says:

        Perhaps we’re not agreeing on how to count the paragraphs in Option A.

        Here’s what I was thinking:

        Paragraph 1 (if/then): create an AAP based on the commentary. [One example]

        Paragraph 2: Apply to create an AAP for the compilation (commentary + previously existing work) [no examples]. (As noted above, as this is worded, I think it goes with what you do if you apply paragraph 1.)

        Paragraph 3 (if/then): Treat an an expression of the previously existing work [multiple examples]

        • Robert L. Maxwell says:

          I agree with Kathy, but have a further comment on “Paragraph 3”. “… treat the previously existing work with added commentary, etc., as an expression …” doesn’t make sense. A work is not an expression, so you can’t treat a “previously existing work” as an expression. Would this work?:

          If: it is not considered important to identify the commentary, etc., as a work,

          then: treat the resource as an expression of the previously existing work; construct an authorized access point for the expression based on the authorized access point for the previously existing work, if it is considered important to identify the particular expression (see 6.27.3).

        • kelleym says:

          I read this the way Kathy did, but if that is so maybe paragraph 2 should also be indented under the then?

  5. Kathy Glennan says:

    As I understand the current instruction, it’s all about predominant and secondary content.

    The 1st-2nd paragraphs identify the commentary as the predominant content, and the AAP is constructed accordingly (creator of commentary + preferred title).

    The 3rd paragraph identifies the previously existing work as the predominant content, and the AAP is constructed accordingly (creator of original work + preferred title).

    In both of these scenarios, any mention of additional access points is out of scope — I think.

    IMO, the latest version of the example in (introduced sometime after the April 2016 update) causes some problems by mentioning the “compilation” aspect. This example seems to anticipate this proposal. I don’t think it’s appropriate to mention multiple AAPs at this point in these instructions.

    There are plenty of times that we identify a work as such without taking into consideration the secondary content (e.g., illustrations, an introduction, editorial footnotes, etc.). I suspect this is the same situation, only on steroids.

    It does seem wrong to me not to identify the previously existing work when applying the 1st-2nd paragraphs in the current instruction. Does this point to a problem in (As I read the Alternative there, it just applies in those situations where there’s no collective title and the agency decides to create a devised title for the compilation.) Am I missing something obvious?

  6. Kathy Glennan says:

    The markup of Option C points to specific situations where we want to make sure that the changed instructions still work.

    We’ve heard from representatives of the law community — does the revised (option A) still provide the correct outcome for annotated editions of laws & commentaries?

    From those of you who catalog religious works, does the revision presented either as option A or option B give the desired result for harmonies accompanied by commentary?

  7. Kathy Glennan says:

    I think if option B is the solution, the 2nd paragraph should be presented as an Exception.

  8. Robert Bratton says:

    As I re-read this, it seems like this proposal is confused. It asserts that all commentaries are compilations, and then proceeds to say it is OK to treat them as new works by an author. Which is it?

    If the commentary is simply footnotes and/or marginalia is that really a new work? Is it a work if it can’t stand alone? Is it a compilation if one of the two “works” can’t stand alone?

    “Solve the problem that currently does not allow for the commentary to be a compilation…”
    I disagree. The instruction says to use the AAP for the person responsible for the commentary “AS APPLICABLE.” If the commentary is a compilation by different authors with no one having principle responsibility, the AAP would be the preferred title of the commentary. That’s what the instructions currently say. I don’t see any room for confusion here.

    For a real world example of a commentary, treated as a new work that is a compilation, please see OCLC # 891383877 LC control # 2014940443.

    Option A is the only palatable option, but only with revision.

    • Robert L. Maxwell says:

      I agree with Robert that Option A is the only palatable option. Although there is in fact an Option D, and that’s not revise the current instruction. I’m not sure that the current instructions are so confused that we’re all unclear of what to do …

      • Robert Bratton says:

        I agree with Bob Maxwell that we could leave this instruction as is, or very minimally change it. The only thing I really think should be changed is putting the emphasis on judgement rather than how a resource presents itself.

        “it is considered important to identify the commentary, etc. as a work”

        rather than:

        “it is presented as the work of the person… responsible for the commentary”

  9. Robert Bratton says:

    I am currently discussing this proposal with AALL catalogers.

    After those discussions, and after rereading the proposal a few times, I don’t think I support the proposal at all except for the one minor change I mentioned in responding to Bob Maxwell.

    I understand that you may want (and indeed often do) have separate AAPs for the commentary and the original work being commented on.

    AAP1: Burns, Raymond. Commentary on the Equal Pay Act [MARC 100, 245]

    AAP2: United States. Equal Pay Act of 1963 [MARC: 610]

    The question is: Does the AAP “Burns, Raymond. Commentary on the Equal Pay Act” represent (1) the text of the commentary in isolation, or does it represent (2) everything between the front and back covers, including the text of the Act?

    According to the proposal it is the former:

    “Apply the instructions at to construct an authorized access point for the compilation of the previously existing work and the commentary, etc.”


    AAP3: Commentary on the Equal Pay Act (Burns) [MARC: 130?]

    I disagree.

    I say that a commentary is *not* a compilation. Commentaries do contain two separate works in a abstract sense, but rather than compilations, they are “hybrid-works.” They are either new works that contain a segmented form of an existing work, or they are new expressions of the existing work. The added critical text of the commentary makes no sense in isolation and it was never intended to exist in isolation. Therefore it is not a work in and of itself. Annotations and footnotes are meaningless in isolation. They are dependent on the text of the original work.


    • Robert L. Maxwell says:

      I agree with Robert Bratton on the nature of these things. Commentaries on the Bible and on classical works often consist of a few words from the text commented on, and then several paragraphs of commentary, and then a few more words, and then more paragraphs of commentary. I suppose you could stitch the isolated words from the original text together and have an expression of the original work (though most often there would be bits left out here and there, or repeated). In that sense the commentary is a compilation of two works, the commentary and an expression of the original work. And possibly, if the cataloger judges it important, it would be useful to record the authorized access point for the expression of the original work, so that library users know it’s there. But it really is more of a kind of a hybrid. First, the entire text of the original might not be there–just the words or phrases commented on might be given, and it isn’t the cataloger’s job to determine if it’s the entire text (vs. “selections” or “fragments”). Second, it seems unlikely that a library user would be all that thrilled to discover through the catalog that the library has, for example, a copy of a Greek expression of the Iliad only to discover when he/she gets the book that it’s isolated words from the Iliad embedded in a commentary.

      On the other hand, there ARE commentaries that are simply printed parallel to the full text of the original, or are printed at the end of the work, after the full text has been printed. These are more clearly compilations.

      I agree with Robert B. that the current instruction should be revised to emphasize cataloger judgment (per Robert’s suggestion above) rather than the way the publication presents itself. That has always seemed to me an extremely arbitrary way of making this decision (what if the exact same commentary + text is published more than once and in one the text is emphasized on the title page and in another the commentary is emphasized?)

  10. Robert Bratton says:

    A real problem arises when you assert that any resource with discreet components created by different creators is automatically a compilation (at least in the RDA sense). The text of Shakespeare’s The Tempest with a critical essay as an appendix is a compilation? A novel with a foreword written by someone other than the novelist is a compilation? An album by Prince with linear notes is a compilation?

    If that is the case, then the RDA instructions for AAPs for compilation must be rethought. At the very least, there needs to be an allowance for a compilation to have a predominant work.

    I don’t think that aggregates as discussed in the FRBR-LRM (page 64) necessarily equate to compilations as currently treated by RDA

  11. Robert Bratton says:

    “We believe that there will be minimal impact of the revisions to either RDA or user communities because this proposal is a clarification of instructions based on the principles given throughout RDA, rather than a change in instructions.”

    This is false.

    “Apply the instructions at to construct an authorized access point for the compilation of the previously existing work and the commentary, etc.”

    This would be a change in instructions and a change in practice.

  12. Robert Bratton says:

    From AALL colleague and former CC:DA member John Hostage:

    This instruction in RDA grew out of AACR2 21.13. There the question was choosing the main entry. The text with commentary was assumed to be one “work”, but added entries were made for the previously existing work, if it wasn’t chosen as the “main entry” for the whole thing.

    This rule was carried over with necessary modifications into RDA. The instruction also covered annotations and illustrative content. Practice continued as before. Nobody treated such “works” as compilations. Last April the instruction was revised and the first example, which had been a law example, was replaced with the current one. It was accompanied by the note “Authorized access point for the compilation: A commentary on Virgil’s Bucolica.” This was the first mention of compilations in this context. For the first time, there were two competing AAPs. One is for the work mentioned in the first sentence (“the work consists of a previously existing work with added commentary, annotations, illustrative content, etc.”) and the other was a purported compilation. In MARC terms, there was no indication of which should go in the 1XX field, though past practice would put Clausen in the 100 with an entry for Virgil’s Bucolica in both 600 and 700.

    The LC proposal says there is no change in instructions, but changes were implicit in the update last April. It’s not known if anybody has been following that interpretation. The LC proposal is written from the perspective that works with commentaries are compilations and tries to carry that to its logical conclusion. Law catalogers are mostly unanimous in the view that while commentaries may be aggregates, they should not be treated under the RDA instructions for compilations.

    Note also that option B deletes the words “annotations, illustrative content” from the heading, while option A does not. This discrepancy is not explained. In the case of illustrations added to a text, the idea of a compilation seems even more far-fetched.

  13. Amanda Ros says:

    I have some of the same concerns as addressed by Robert Bratton (the Shakespeare example) and Robert Maxwell (Biblical commentaries example). The only option in the proposal that I could agree with is Option A, and certainly not Option C. My preference would be to leave it and add an emphasis on cataloger’s judgement.

  14. Diane Napert says:

    Preference for Option A
    I’ve been trying to think through examples and did some searching for music and religious titles. From my experience, the emphasis is on the original work, unless the commentator has also become quite famous.
    If A is applied uniformly, could this tease out the differences between in-depth commentary and the text with some added notes?
    I think Kathy pointed out if choosing to construct an AAP representing the commentary, one should also separately identify the previously existing work.
    I tried to get some input from someone with extensive experience cataloging religious material and will post that if I get feedback.

  15. kelleym says:

    I am not sure I see how a work + a commentary is not an aggregation; it’s just that we often don’t find the benefits of identifying the components of an aggregation worth the time it takes (as in the second half of option A). It seems to me that, as the proposal suggests, the most accurate way to model these is as an aggregating work + the commentary + the original work. Why are commentaries and similar types of augmentations mentioned in a special instruction? Is it that they are unusual in that the augmentation is sometimes considered more important than the thing being augmented in terms of how users view a resource? Unlike a preface?

    For some reason, this reminded me of something, which I eventually tracked down to the initial report of the working group on aggregates, where they discuss independent and dependent augmentations, the latter of which can by systemic or segmental. I am not sure this is relevant, but it does seems like footnotes and marginalia are a type of dependent systemic part whereas a freestanding commentary that contains enough context that it can be read without constantly referring to the original work would be independent. Maybe that’s why the examples don’t seem like compilations—commentaries as footnotes, etc. aren’t really separable?

    Maybe the problem really lies with the way our systems are so dependent on authorized access points to present users with their options? Option A seems reasonable to me, but I don’t work much with these kinds of materials and my thoughts on this may just be confused.

    • Robert Bratton says:

      Speaking from the perspective of law commentaries…

      I agree that they are augmented. But I do not think they are compilations in the sense of how AAP for compilations are currently treated in RDA. If the annotations, etc. cannot exist apart from what they’re annotating, how can they constitute a separate work? I suppose they could be pulled out and put together as a separate thing, but it would be nonsensical.

      As Bob Maxwell said, these are a kind of “hybrid work” not a compilation.

      As a side note, it would be helpful if RDA actually defined “compilation.”

  16. Robert Bratton says:

    The consensus from the discussion with AALL catalogers is: Commentaries are *not* compilations of the commentary and what they are commenting on. They are either new works, or expressions on an existing work, and that determination should be left to the person creating the metadata.

    Commentaries *can* be compilations. For example, if a commentary has editors and different sections of the commentary have different authors, then it is a compilation.

  17. Robert Bratton says:

    Comments from a cataloger on LC’s Law Team (shared with permission):

    Robert Bratton forwarded the proposal, which will impact on law cataloging since a high percentage of our cataloging involves “commentaries”. I believe that our position as law catalogers needs to be one that allows cataloger judgment to determine whether access to the resource should be based on the work being commented on, or should be based on the commentary (which may or may not be a compilation itself, though most law commentaries are not compilations). One can not make a general statement about the nature of commentaries in legal literature since they vary greatly between countries.

    In some cases, the work being commented on is clearly the “raison d’etre” of the item published, as indicated by its prominence in the text, on the title page and cover, how it is marketed and how it is sold, and how users will look for the work. Typically the title is something such as “Code of whatchamacallit, with commentary by so and so”. The title of the code is prominent. The text of the code is featured. People looking for the book will asking for the “code”. In this situation, the cataloging should be based on the creator of that work (or the title depending on circumstances). Usually the author of the commentary gets a 7xx with $e writer of added commentary. From a cataloging perspective, there is one principle work, and other lesser dependent works. This is actually a common situation, since many works have, for example, illustrations, a preface, or an index compiled by someone other than the creator of the main work, and we still regard the resource as the primary work, rather than as a compilation.

    In some cases, the “commentary” has a life of its own. Sometimes what is commented on does not even exist as an RDA work (consider the well known “Commentaries on the Laws of England” by Blackstone, which is a “commentary” on customary law tradition – not a RDA work). In some cases the commentary is well known by the name of the commentator, and the work commented on is clearly secondary and may not even be included in the resource being cataloged, such as Maimonides’ commentary on the Mishnah, or “B.N. Mehrotra’s commentary on law of defamation, damages, malicious prosecution”. In this situation, the “original work” may be in an appendix, or interspersed with the commentary, and may not be included in any form. In these situations users will be asking for the work by the name of the creator of the commentary, that is how it will be cited and marketed, and the resource in question might be worthless for someone interested in the work commented on. While the work commented on should be the first subject heading (as a 600/610/630, or in the case of Blackstone, a 650), and perhaps a 7xx for the work commented on as an analytic (though we usually don’t included added entries for an appendix that is not a significant part of the resource), the resource’s cataloging should be based on the creator of the commentary, or the commentary’s preferred title (particularly if the commentary is itself a compilation of many commentaries, something common in some legal cultures though not in American legal publishing).

    There is never a situation where one would treat legal commentaries as a compilation to two works. Rather it is for the cataloger to decide if the original work or the commentary is to be the basis of the cataloging, and the other is to be considered secondary (similar to how we treat indexes, prefaces, etc.). Even though many works are arguably a compilation since they include materials from many sources (separate preface or introduction, index or bibliography by someone other than the creator of the work, or include all sorts on interesting things in the appendix) we still regard the creator of the principle work as the creator of the resource rather than treating it as a compilation. Perhaps there should be an RDA rule ratifying the de facto policy that the cataloger decides if a resource is a compilation of many works (entry under title of the compilation), or is really a primary work which includes lesser works (that is entered under the creator of the primary work, perhaps with added entries for the lesser works). We have always cataloged as if there is such a rule, since to assume otherwise would result in absurd cataloging. In the case of law commentaries, we would almost always conclude that the resource is either an expression of the original work, or of the commentary – but never a compilation. However these decisions have to be left to the cataloger.

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