I’m taking Archival Description this semester, and so far it is way cool! Apart from the fact that the campus portal listed it as being in Wilson 202 when I wrote out my schedule last week… I went to Wilson Library and found out that there wasn’t a room 202, so I went to Wilson Hall and found a dark and empty room 202, at which point some nice lady let me use her computer and I found out the location was changed to Manning. In spite of these travails, I was only five minutes late.
Anyway, so far the class itself is really interesting, and I’m really enjoying coming at it from a cataloger’s perspective. I was inspired to enroll after learning a little bit about EAD last semester in Metadata, and because description theory is just interesting. One of our first readings is Margaret Nichols’ “The Cataloger and the Archivist Should Be Friends: or, Herding vs. Milking Special Collections”. The article makes a really interesting comparison of the cataloger versus the archivist perspective. Here are some points I’ve gleaned:
- Catalogers describe individual works and distinguish among manifestations; archivists summarize the characteristics of an entire collection and do not typically describe individual items
- Elements that describe history, provenance, and contextual aspects are required for archival description but optional for catalog records
- Catalog records follow strict rules and therefore may be used interchangeably among most institutions; archival descriptions will not be reused, since they are for unique collections
It is already so intriguing to think about these different viewpoints, especially since it has come up in cataloging classes whether contextual information can enhance findability. That’s certainly one of the ideas central to FRBR, with collocation and the “inherent relationships” among Group 1 entities. (Again, thank you, “What is FRBR?”) I hope by the end of the semester I have a broader perspective on the benefits of different levels and points of access, and I will certainly consider principles of archival description when creating metadata.
The article also quotes Oklahoma!, which I was in, as a seventh grader. I was a townsperson, and my main memory is getting yelled at by some of the older kids for singing unrelated songs in the wings.