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ARSCLIST  September 2005

ARSCLIST September 2005

Subject:

Re: More on cataloging

From:

"Steven C. Barr" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 3 Sep 2005 23:38:16 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (82 lines)

Somewhat after the fact, here is a short essay I did with the intent of
adding
it to my personal web site:

++++++++

<HTML>
<HEAD><TITLE>Catalog vs. Discographic Archive</TITLE></HEAD>
<BODY>
<CENTER><B><FONT SIZE="5" COLOR="RED">Databases--Catalog vs. Discographic
Archive</FONT></B><P>
<FONT COLOR="BLUE">Two different uses for digital
data</FONT></CENTER><P><BR>

In discussions regarding the use of digital databases (or other means) in
relation to collections of 78rpm (or other) phonorecords, or discographic
information on phonorecords, there is one important consideration that often
goes unmentioned or undiscussed. This relates to the purpose of the data
collection...and the difference that this makes in the type of data tracked
therein. In actual fact, the two types of database have distinct differences
and considerations! <P>

In the first case, the database is intended as a catalog for one (or more)
collections of phonorecords. In this case, the data is used to enable the
person, persons or institution(s) to track the items contained in the
collection(s); it is also intended for the users of the collection(s) so
they know how and where to access desired items included in the collection.
Here, each data record refers to one phonorecord (or one side thereof)...a
specific physical object included in the collection being tracked, which is
in fact a single copy of the phonorecord (or side) in question. For this
reason, the data record can and will contain data fields which refer to this
specific item...such entries as condition, price paid, date acquired, and
other information referring to this specific copy <P>

In the second case, the database is intended NOT as a catalog of specific
items, but as a collection of information applicable to all examples of the
phonorecords included. Therefore, item-specific entries like those noted
above cannot be included...only information applicable to all (or, in some
cases, many) extant copies of the sound recording! Thus, if all copies are
known or assumed to use a specific matrix, that number can be entered in the
database. In the case above, the MATRIX field refers onlt to the specific
item in the documented collection, and may or may not apply to all copies
(as does the entry in the second case). Obviously, if discographic data is
entered in a catalog database, it should be with the assumed caveat that the
data only applies to the specific example being catalogued...which may or
may not indicate every extant example of that particular phonorecord!<P>

To carry the above point further, it should be noted that some data...and
thus some data fields...can be part of both noted database cases. Both
catalog databases and discographic archives must contain items like LABEL,
CATALOG NUMBER, ARTIST(S), TITLE(S) and
similar fields in order to adequately identify the phonorecord; they can
also contain further information should the creator(s) of the databases see
fit. In fact, a catalog database can contain large amounts of discographic
information, and thus be useful as a discographic resource (my own does
so!). For example, this type of information might contain the actual
artist(s) hidden behind pseudonumous label credits...or include an erroneous
title credit for information's sake, with a note pointing out the error. The
important point is that the included data applies only to the phonorecord
being catalogued (and possibly other...but not all...examples of that disc).
This becomes important if the database is made readily available to
researchers, such as posting it on the Internet. If users fail to note that
a catalog applies only to the specific phonorecords in the collection(s),
they may be confused when the posted data appears to contradict their own
copy...or, should the posted database be a discographic archive, they may
expect access to the content of the listed phonorecord, which cannot be made
available, since the entry in this case applies to a theoretical rather than
a concrete object!<P>

To summarize, there exist two different types of databases containing data
on phonorecords: one referring to actual objects (the catalog) while the
other type serves only as a repository for data and does not refer directly
to actual objects. While these two can, and often do, overlap in content, it
is clear that there are important differences.<P>

<I>Steven C. Barr</I>
</BODY></HTML>

++++++++

Steven C. Barr

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