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EAD  November 1998

EAD November 1998

Subject:

Controlled Access terms

From:

"Elizabeth H. Dow" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Encoded Archival Description List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 20 Nov 1998 04:42:44 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (52 lines)

        About a year ago, Special Collections took on responsibility for
indexing the local newspaper, which put a dedicated indexer in the
department. Working with him, I decided that, as part of our convrsion
from beta to v1.0, we should add controlled access terms at both the
collection level and series level of our inventories.

        We're now in the process of clarifying our rationales so we can
create policies and procedures for that process, and have hit a real
swamp. So once again I am turning to the list looking for advice and
examples from others as to how they handle the issues we're facing.

        We've established a couple general rules:
        * always use vocabulary from standard lists: AAT for <genreform>
and various LC lists for others, creating local lists only for personal
names and corporate names not part of the LC system.

        * always add terms for implicit concepts not explicitly expressed

        * add terms for as many perspectives as the collection requires.
Guided by the list of MARC 6xx fields, we're routinely doing an
intellectual scan for personal names, corporate names, conference names,
geographical names, topical issues, genre of document, governmental
functions, occupational titles.

        * add a controlled term only once at the collection level and
repeat it only once at each series level as appropriate. We don't have the
staff to regularize every entry of every name, for instance. But even this
modest approach has created a problem in our political collections.

        Political papers, especially, contain information on myriad topics
and myriad corporate names, in the form of committees, sub-committees, as
well as geographical names. Further, the various files are typically well
labeled, and the full-text searching features of our DynaText/DynaWeb
software makes them highly identifiable in that mode, so one is tempted to
leave them untagged. On the other hand, tagging has great power to provide
order to the chaotic world of full-text searching, and it feels like we're
shirking our professional obligation not to tag each name and topic at
least once per collection/series level. On the other hand, we have only
one 50% person applying 20% of that time to this task. A year ago, before
the indexer joined our staff, we regretted that we couldn't staff any
effort to apply controlled access terms, but had decided to live with
that. Now that we have an indexer, what can we reasonably expect?

        We've talked ourselves around and around this problem, alternating
between the highly professional and the highly practical approach, and we
have real reservations about committing to either extreme. We're looking
for a middle ground. What have others done about this problem?

Elizabeth H. Dow, Ph.D.   [log in to unmask]
Special Collections -- Bailey/Howe Library
University of Vermont                          "Dare to be stupid."

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