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DDC and collection-level description Ritchie Thomson and Gordon Dunsire Presented to the Cataloguing and Indexing Group in Scotland following the Annual.

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Presentation on theme: "DDC and collection-level description Ritchie Thomson and Gordon Dunsire Presented to the Cataloguing and Indexing Group in Scotland following the Annual."— Presentation transcript:

1 DDC and collection-level description Ritchie Thomson and Gordon Dunsire Presented to the Cataloguing and Indexing Group in Scotland following the Annual General Meeting, 6 April 2006, at the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh

2 Contents Sticking jelly to walls with six inch nails, or contextual subject/discipline analysis of SCONE database via the assignation of DDC notation … (Ritchie Thomson) With an introduction and epilogue: Collection-level description and subject retrieval (Gordon Dunsire)

3 Collection-level description and subject retrieval

4 Collection-level description Metadata describing a collection as a whole Not in terms of its constituent items Thats what a library catalogue does Applied to collections of all types, shapes and sizes, e.g. National Library of Scotland collection Aberdeen Harbour Board photographic archive Edward Clark collection

5 Subject retrieval Subject retrieval at the collection level is required to landscape information environments by topic, before item searching is carried out Which collections should I search to find items on my subject of interest? I do not want to waste time looking in a collection of 19 th century literature for items about quantum mechanics!

6 SCONE Scottish Collections Network Established in descriptions of collections located in Scotland or about Scotland Archives, libraries, museums, digital Subject landscaping important from the start But unknown territory

7 Subject retrieval in SCONE 3 methods of subject retrieval Conspectus for general collections Based on Library of Congress Classification Verbal headings Map of subject strength for each heading Old and modern Scottish universities + NLS Library of Congress Subject Headings Text retrieval of controlled keywords Dewey Decimal Classification …

8 Sticking jelly to walls with six inch nails …

9 or … Contextual subject/discipline analysis of SCONE database via the assignation of DDC notation …

10 Simple! DDC provides for good subject/discipline analysis for general and specific collections of art via the 708s: 708 Galleries, museums, private collections of fine and decorative arts Geographic treatment Class here guidebooks and catalogs of specific galleries, museums, private collections Therefore the notation for art gallery collections in Edinburgh is …

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12 But … What if its not so simple?

13 General collections problem At what point does a collection become so general so as to render any attempt at subject/discipline analysis meaningless? What is the tipping-point of a collection-level record? Value judgement? Yes, but isnt that always the case in cataloguing and classification to some extent? Once we have decided a collection isnt too general some sort of analysis has to be made …

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15 Stuff and things … Burns Cottage Is it simply a cottage? Whats in the collection? Manuscripts, Personal and family objects, Archival material, Art work …

16 Analyse this? Analyse what? What aspects of the collection must the cataloguer take into consideration? Physical content? Cultural content? Context? All these and more …

17 The problem with collection-level description … The problem is we are dealing with collections of stuff … … and collections of stuff that might include a wide and diverse selection of subjects attributes at that! … collections of stuff and things …

18 The Dewey problem Problems with DDC itself … designed primarily for item level description … …and! DDC actually provides for collection-level analysis in the 026/027s!

19 From the DDC schedules 026 Class here information organizations and library departments and collections in specific disciplines and subjects; comprehensive works on special libraries For special libraries not devoted to specific disciplines and subjects, see the kind of library in 027.6, e.g., general museum libraries , general libraries in newspaper offices

20 026s not fit for purpose! It is conceivable that every library and archival collection would be assigned a 026 or 027 classmark … though qualified by a subject/discipline qualifier i.e. medical libraries … Assigning practically every collection-level record a classmark in the 026 area seems particularly useless …

21 Breaking the rules … Break the rules … but dont panic! Assign a DDC that best reflects the purpose and context of the collection as a whole … … and in a way so as to maintain the contextual integrity of the collection in order to give the collection real meaning …

22 A new methodology A contextual approach involving a subject/discipline analysis of collections … Ask yourself, why does this collection exist?, what does this collection say to me?, what is this collection about? Resolve various aspects of a collection into one singular DDC notation which reflects the collection as a whole …

23 Sum of parts? A collection title may very well masquerade as a country house, or general museum collection, or collection of objects directly related to an important aspect of our history, or an important figure from our history … Thus a collection of objects must constitute more than just the sum of the parts as a whole!

24 Collection values and context Collection strengths, collection subjects, collection disciplines … A way of thinking that encapsulates a methodology of conceptualising about what the collection is about and what it exists for in the first place … What is the collections purpose in the context of the wider culture of the nation?

25 A quasi-archival methodology? Yes it is … Related to what practitioners in the archival field term provenance, i.e. the contextual integrity of a collection needs to be maintained in order to give the collection any real meaning It is the collection we are concerned with not the items per say … and the context in which the items are brought together in the context of the collection!

26 Context Strict adherence to the rules would result in assigning the classmark for medical libraries … As stated this is not fit for purpose … Contextual subject/discipline analysis of a medical library collection translates to classmark 610. In some ways like the editorial mapping process used in Web Dewey … but in reverse …

27 What if … What if the context of a collection *shouts* biography? What if by assigning a biographical classmark to a collection-level record we can maintain the contextual integrity of the collection in a meaningful sense?

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29 Name as subject/discipline Collection strengths in antiques, antiquities, historic relics, weapons and armour, and rare books collected by Sir Walter Scott … The assigned DDC for this record is …

30 From the DDC schedules (928) *Persons in literature, history biography, genealogy Including historians, writers and critics of belles-lettres (.2-9.) Writers in literature, history, biography, genealogy by language Add to base number 928 notation 2- 9 from Table 6 for language in which person has written …

31 Why choose biography? LCSH assigned to the give access to collection subject strengths … including a name-as-subject entry … However, the purpose of this collection is to attempt to represent the life and work of Sir Walter Scott ( )! The context of the collection is the life of Sir Walter Scott. People travel to the Abbotsford because its the site of collections intimately connected with his life and work and his one time home …

32 Value judgement? To some extent yes, but cataloguers make these sort of judgements all the time … It should not be beyond our abilities as cataloguers, to come up with some way to classifying items at the collection level … after all, every work has its place and place its work … Can this not be the same for collections? Possibly …

33 Summary So, ask why do people value a collection, what is the cultural context that what gives a collection meaning? To give meaning to a collection we must analyse and resolve the important, strengths, subjects, disciplines, and cultural context of a collection into a coherent number that reflects the collection as a whole... This approach maintains the contextual integrity of a collection needed to give the collection any real meaning … In context …

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35 Ritchie Thomson

36 … DDC and HILT High-Level Thesaurus JISC/RSLP project, 2001 onwards Now in phase 3 Developing a m(achine)2m(achine) demonstrator Interoperability between different subject vocabularies Recommended use of DDC as a spine or common mapping bridge

37 Use of DDC in HILT Subject term input by user Corresponding DDC number(s) identified User presented with verbal hierarchies and asked to select one (disambiguate) Collection-level descriptions give subject scheme used in item finding-aid (catalogue) LCSH, MESH, Unesco, AAT, etc. Corresponding term(s) found from inverse DDC mapping Used to search finding-aids

38 Utility of decimal notation DDC number corresponding to user subject term can identify (landscape) collections automatically By exploiting decimal notation of DDC Subject term can be broadened by truncating the DDC number Teeth (human physiology) = Broader 61(0) = Medicine and health

39 Automatic landscaping Teeth = Any collections with this DDC? If no: Any collections with ? 612.3? 612? 610? Yes! 29 in SCONE Aberdeen University Medical Library collection, etc. LCSH for (item) catalogue = teeth or dentition

40 Links SCONE HILT Centre for Digital Library Research SLAINTE website of SLIC and CILIPS


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