I was processing my quarterly authorities updates and changes, when I noticed something peculiar. Sherlock Holmes is no longer a fictitious character. Gone is the Holmes, Sherlock (Fictitious character) subject heading, and it is replaced by the simple name authority access point Holmes, Sherlock who wrote a book last year, his (male gender as noted in the 375) fields of activity include criminology and bee culture, and his profession is as a detective.
Is this authority record a joke?!
Sherlock Holmes (r) and Dr. John H. Watson. Illustration by Sidney Paget.
RDA has very clear rules about fictitious characters. Rule 22.214.171.124 to be specific, which states:
Fictitious and Legendary Persons
For a fictitious or legendary person, record Fictitious character, Legendary character, or another appropriate designation.
- Greek deity
- Mythical animal
That little 2013/07 is interesting because it points us back to an earlier edition of RDA that didn’t include a rule for fictitious characters, non-human entities, other important designations that can distinguish a person. Holmes’ new authority record was created on July 16, 2013 (according to OCLC Connexion). So did the rule change after his record was created? But even still, if the rule changed why did LoC move ahead with editing the authority record one of the most influential fictitious characters in western literature?
To make it even more confusing, there’s no trace of the non-preferred access point in the new authority record. So, based on this new authority record, how are people supposed to know that Sherlock Holmes in in fact not a real male who enjoys bee culture and criminology? They can’t, and that’s just confusing. At least Harry Potter
and Count Dracula
are still fictitious…but for how long?! If we follow RDA closely, we could soon have Potter, Harry (Wizard) and Dracula, Count (Vampire)!
I’d love to hear what you think about the loss of Fictitious characters in our authority file! Please post your comments. Until this all gets sorted out, I’m going to keep Holmes in our catalog just as he is – fictitious.