Dual Chinese romanisation systems and authority control on the Australian bibliographic network : a case study

  • Susan MacDougall

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


This study was prompted by a controversy over Chinese romanisation standards on the Australian Bibliographic Network (ABN). Rather than rejecting the Library of Congress’ Chinese romanisation standard, it was proposed to support two romanisation standards in parallel, namely the
existing standard, Wade-Giles, and Pinyin, the standard used by the People’s Republic of China. Pinyin romanisation has gained widespread acceptance outside libraries. Sample records were mounted on ABN in order to test retrieval problems associated with authority control of
parallel Chinese name headings within the existing database see reference structure.
The study entailed retrieval of Pinyin bibliographic records from ABN along with their name headings. Six hundred and sixteen bibliographic records were found in Pinyin romanisation. Five hundred and six Chinese name headings were attached to these records, of which 80 percent were in Pinyin, 11 percent were in Wade-Giles, 8 percent overlapped both romanisations, and the remaining 1 percent were in neither. More than half the name headings had parallel headings. A low level of authority work on name headings, particularly a lack of cross references from the non-preferred to the preferred term, had resulted in the creation of these parallel headings. Parallel headings were also created as a result of inappropriate references or references containing spelling or other errors. Parallel name headings were sometimes set up differently because of a failure to check authorities. A 11 lack of understanding of diacritics was also evident and caused unnecessary duplication of name headings. The generally low level of authority work which had been performed on Chinese name headings was a matter for concern since it resulted in unlinked headings which would adversely affect the efficient retrieval of bibliographic records in a search by author. The lack of authority work was not confined to records created within Australia. It was concluded that parallel and duplicate headings were appearing as a result of lack of authority work. In a decentralised, shared cataloguing network such as ABN, the responsibility for authority work rests with the participants. The loading from external sources of records with low levels of authority work has implications for the responsibility for authority control within Australia. Further, parallel name headings would be necessary in a system of dual romanisation to prevent mixed romanisations from appearing in local library catalogues. To accomplish this, there would need to be a change to the structure of references in name authority records on the ABN database.
Date of Award1991
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Canberra

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