Friday, January 30, 2009

Twelth (for Twelfth)

Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.
(Twelfth Night, Act II, Scene V)
What makes greatness in cataloguing is oft-debated: efficiency vs. perfect description and extensive keyword access vs. controlled vocabulary are just two aspects of the debate. But it can certainly be argued as well that typos in the catalogue lead to poor information access all around: whether in a subject heading, uniform title, or keyword fields like a contents note, a misspelled word is not helpful in the slightest when it comes to retrieval.

The above quotation is from Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night, a title that includes a commonly misspelled word: do a quick search in your library’s catalogue for the typo twelth. A missing "f" ushers no one to greatness.

Leanne Olson

(John Taylor’s painting of William Shakespeare from Britannica Online)

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