FAQ on geographic names

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When establishing geographic names how are degrees, minutes, and seconds to be represented when supplying the coordinates in the 670s?

Degrees are represented by the degree symbol (U+00B0), minutes by the prime (U+02B9) and seconds by the double prime (U+02BA).

Example : 47° 41ʹ 22ʺ

Why is it when a large jurisdiction (e.g., country or state) changes its name a see-also (earlier/later) is made from the old form of name to the current form but when adding that new jurisdiction's name to a smaller jurisdiction (e.g., state or city) within that country a see reference is made (4XX)?

Example 1 Example 2 Example 3
151 $a Rhodésie du Sud 151 $a Salisbury (Zimbabwe) 151 $a Salisbury (Zimbabwe)
551 $w b $a Zimbabwe 451 $w nne $a Salisbury (Rhodésie du Sud) 551 $w a $a Harare (Zimbabwe)

(Note: complete reference structure not given in these examples)

In example 1 the jurisdiction changed names thus a Successor reference is made on the NAR. In example 2 the smaller jurisdiction (city, state, etc.) has not changed its name, what has changed is the cataloger's addition to the name; therefore, one cannot apply RDA but instead RDA is applied. In other words, the name of the city had not changed at the time the larger jurisdiction changed names; thus, the earlier form of the heading is converted into a see reference (note that it is coded "nne" in the subfield $w to denote an earlier authorized form of name). In example 3 the Predecessor reference is made because the name of the smaller jurisdiction has now changed. br>

Which sources should PFAN cataloguers consult when selecting the preferred name for a geographical entity?

According to RDA, cataloguers should base the forms of names of places on the forms found in the following sources (in order of preference):

a) gazetteers and other references sources, in French,

b) gazetteers and other references sources issued in the jurisdiction in which the place is located, in the official language or languages of that jurisdiction.

For places in Canada, use the form found in the Natural Resources Canada’s Canadian Geographical Names Database (CGNDB)

For municipalities in Québec, use the source found in the following sources (in this order of preference):

  1. le Répertoire des municipalités
  2. la Banque de noms de lieux du Québec
  3. other sources of reference
  4. the resource in hand.

For places in Québec, other than municipalities, use the form found in the Banque de noms de lieux du Québec.

For the following countries, use the form found in the sources listed below (following the order of preference, as indicated), if sources in French do not include any information, or are not available, and if sources of reference in English have to be consulted:

Pays Sources
Australia 1. VIAF
2. Geoscience Australia Place Name Search
United States 1. LC/NAF
2. Geographic Names Information System (GNIS)
Great Britain 1. FLC/NAF
2. The Ordnance Survey gazetteer of Great Britain ou GEOnet Names Server (GNS)
New Zealand 1. LC/NAF
2. New Zealand Gazetteer of Place Names

Do we need to create authority records for all geographical names used as qualifiers for corporate headings?

Yes, authority records must be created for all geographical names used as qualifiers for corporate heading.

What are the basic principles we have to follow when choosing between the PFAN and RVM in order to establish a geographical name?

A geographical heading (151) can be established either in the name authority file, or in the subject file. However, only a geographical heading established in the name authority file can be used as an access point for a jurisdiction or a government (110). Therefore, the jurisdiction status is the main difference between a geographical name heading and a subject heading. Geographical subject headings are usually geographic features, regions, or collective names for groups of jurisdictions that don’t also have a national government function. For more details, see SHM H 405 Establishing Certain Entities in the Name or Subject File.

Therefore, cataloguers working in PFAN are responsible for establishing a geographical name for a jurisdiction. However, BAnQ is willing to establish a name for a Québec jurisdiction, if asked by a PFAN member; email requests to: VMG-quebecois@banq.qc.ca. The following information must be included with the request: title of the resource being catalogued, date of publication of this resource, place in the resource where the name place is mentioned, and any other relevant information, such as variant names mentioned in the resource, historical information about the place, etc., as well as the place in the resource where this information was found.

Is it mandatory to include the form of the geographical name used as a subdivision in field 781 of the authority record for the geographic name?

It is not mandatory, but strongly recommended, to facilitate the use of geographical names when doing subject cataloguing.

Should cataloguers add a 667 note to name authority records, to specify how the name is to be used in subject headings, for instance when there is a linear change of name?

Yes, please see the Name Authority Manual, section 667, for further information, and for examples.

Please note that for mergers or splits of jurisdictions, it is not necessary to include a 667 note about the use of the name in subject headings. See SHM H 710 Jurisdictional Mergers and Splits.

Last update: 2022-01-26