I am interested in a specific edition of something. In this case, the 1994 Jeremy Mays translation of the lyrics to Brecht’s Threepenny Opera. (Robert MacDonald translated the book to that 1994 London production says wikipedia in the Mack The Knife article; a production strangely not mentioned in the actual Threepenny Opera article. Wikipedia fail. I guess I should try to fix it myself; maybe I will by the time you read this, but odds are I’m too lazy.)
Here’s a worldcat.org record which claims to represent this particular edition:
Note Jeremy Mays name included in the ‘by’ line at the top.
Note on the ‘description’ tab:
- Notes: Lyrics only from the musical in three acts. Computer printout. Date from accompanying material. Intended for production by the Donmar Warehouse, London.
- Responsibility: lyrics [translated] by Jeremy Sams ; [music by Kurt Weill ; original text by Bertolt Brecht].
Okay, this is the edition I want after all. I’ve had trouble finding it, I think it may never have actually been published, at least not in a mass market edition, and maybe not at all. “Computer printout… intended for production”. Okay, but this OCLC record sure looks to be what I’m looking for. So, I’m close right?
So I go to the ‘libraries’ tab, and hey, if I enter my zip code ( 21218 ) as the location, it even appears that my own library at Johns Hopkins has it. Except clicking on that gets me a ‘record not found’ from my own catalog. And attempts to find this edition in my own catalog are fruitless (not that my own catalog gives me very good tools for distinguishing editions, but I’m pretty sure the Mays translation isn’t in it).
Of the other libraries listed on the first page, half of the links are just plain broken, giving me an error from the destination catalog.
The other half give me a record… for a different edition, not the one I a intersted in.
Huh? Worldcat says it’s showing me a record for this edition. There are other records for the Threepenny Opera in worldcat.org that are NOT of this edition, that do not have Jeremy Mays listed.
Do they all have the same library holdings listed? No, they each have differnet library holdings listed. So why are the library holdings for the record for THIS edition in fact including libraries with other editions?
Have those libraries attached their holdings to the wrong OCLC record? Or is worldcat grouping doing something wrong?
Well, I’ve dispatched the request to my ILL department, making it clear I want the 1994 Mays translation, let’s see what they can with it.
But meanwhile, man, when I run into these situations, I can’t help but again think: For all the old guard catalogers think we’re doing such a great job of describing the bibligraphic universe in exactly precise detail… we are SO not. Sure everything works fine in simple cases, but as soon as you get to a complex case, you’re in a world of incomplete and mis-information, having to do your own sleuthing to try and figure out what’s what. I’m having more and more trouble respecting the opinion that ‘cataloging modernizers’ plans are threatening to to destroy our carefully wrought corpus of reliable data. The emporer needs a new tailor.