LTI has had several recent exchanges with client libraries regarding the issue of whether or not there should be a comma in headings with an open date followed by a relationship designation in $e.
The question of using a comma or not in these cases first arose a couple of years ago, when few libraries were using $e. At that time, lacking specific rules to the contrary, we standardized on following the practice of preceding relator terms by a comma, regardless of what the last character of the heading itself may be. This results in headings that, when subfield codes are removed for display, seemed sensible and readable:
THIS RATHER THAN Smith, John A., editor. Smith, John A. editor. Smith, John A. (John Adams), editor. Smith, John A. (John Adams) editor. Smith, John, d., 1822?, editor. Smith, John, d., 1822? editor. Smith, John, 1970-, editor. Smith, John, 1970- editor.
With the adoption of RDA, and the wide-spread addition of $e to controlled headings, we have maintained this practice in the absence of a clear specification in the rules. Our preference prior to changing the handling was to find an actual instruction that tells how it should be done -- with or without the comma -- not just an example.
This decision was also affected by the consideration of how many headings in bib records would be revised in AUP runs for our client libraries. We were concerned that client libraries may not want to reload tens of thousands of bib records simply to delete a comma in a controlled heading -- at least not until clearly required.
However, after several exchanges with different libraries, and considerable searching in RDA, we have decided to proceed with implementation of a profile option to remove the comma. Please contact Marsha Hunt with requests to revise library profiles to reflect this difference in punctuation.
Libraries using AUP must note that the first run following the profile change will include all changed bibliographic records which will probably result in a larger-than-usual file of revised bibs.