A cataloger’s humble plea.

February 24, 2006

Dear Someone Who Has the Authority to Update OCLC Authority Records,

Could you please update the authority record for Tupac Shakur, ARN# 3448530? He was shot almost ten years ago. Yes, there’s information about his death in the 670 fields, but the authorized form of his name is still listed as “Shakur, Tupac, #d 1971-“. I know there are people who believe that Tupac is still alive, but there are also people who believe that Elvis is still alive, and his authority record was updated at some point to include the year of his death. Also, the Notorious B.I.G. has a date of death in his authority record–granted, it’s in one of the unauthorized forms of heading, but still…at least it’s updated. Is this some kind of East Coast-West Coast thing? If so, I don’t get it, because OCLC is in Ohio, and last time I checked, Ohio was not on any coast. Unless you’re counting the coast of Lake Erie, and I’m not.

I tried to update and replace the record, and I got the infamous “not authorized to replace record” message. I can change it locally, but when our library system does its quarterly authority control, it’ll just get changed back to whatever form is currently on OCLC. And that form happens to be incorrect.

I think maybe someone should be assigned the role of updating authority records when people die. I think I would enjoy doing this–checking the newspaper and various magazines for high-profile deaths and updating the authority records accordingly. It’s a morbid task, yes, but it is a necessary task. Our users do notice that people tend to “live forever” in the catalog. It makes us look out of touch and foolish, like we didn’t get the memo that so-and-so is no longer alive. Like perhaps we were too busy shushing people or measuring the size of books (in centimeters) or constructing Dewey numbers to pay attention to popular culture.

Also, I know that Douglas Adams died several years ago, but in our library catalogs, he lives on! Eternally! With Tupac!

Please fix it. Seriously.

Your cataloging buddy,


One Response to “A cataloger’s humble plea.”

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