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Fabienne,

We have been using <abstract> at file and item level in our finding aids at the Victoria & Albert Museum, but with some misgivings because, although convenient, it is not very clearly defined. 

<abstract> also has no equivalent in ISAD(G), so if you intend your finding aids to be strictly ISAD(G)-compliant, you should probably stick to <scopecontent> for any information, however brief, about the content of the manuscript - including where it relates to a small part of the whole MS.

My understanding is that <note> is really intended for annotation (e.g. citing sopurces), and is not therefore appropriate for the substance of your finding aid.

Christopher Marsden

Museum Archivist
V&A Museum Archives, Blythe House, 23 Blythe Road, London W14 0QX
tel: 020 7602 8832; fax: 020 7602 0980; e-mail: [log in to unmask]

>>> Fabienne Queyroux <[log in to unmask]> 02/12/2002 09:59:24 >>>
Hello everybody

Here in France we are conducting an experimentation re. the automatic or semi-automatic conversion of our big national catalog of manuscripts, Catalogue général des manuscrits des bibliothèques publiques de France. The series has 104 volumes, published between mid-19th century and 1985. At this point, we have selected 10 volumes for a prototype project.
Each volume is devoted to a particular library and will be one EAD instance. Typically, a volume has an introduction, and then lists the manuscripts, in the order of their shelfmarks. We will have lots of <C01>s, and almost no info before <dsc>. Because the collections are very diverse, there can be descriptions of medieval manuscripts followed by description of modern, complex fonds. 
We are trying to decide whether we should use <abstract>, <note> or <scopecontent> to encode descriptions pertaining to the content of the various manuscripts. Of course, we need to keep in mind that we're trying to make the process as simple and coherent as possible, since we would like to automatize the process as much as we can.

We have seen in the new RLG guidelines that <abstract> should be used only for a very short summary at collection-level, and not at item-level. Is this a general rule? In other words, what is the difference between <scopecontent> and <abstract>? The impression we get from the Tag library and the Application guidelines is that it's mostly a matter of length, i.e. <abstract> for a one-paragraph piece of info, <scopecontent> for a longer one...
Also, can <scopecontent> be used for any kind of information re. the contents of the manuscript? Would it be "tag abuse" to use that element to mention, for instance, something about just one part or one folio of the manuscript (for instance the presence of illuminations and ex-libris on ff. x, y, z), or something about the absence in a Bible of one particular book? Or should those mentions be encoded in a <note> element? I give a couple of examples below.
Thank you for any advice or help!

Examples:

<c01><did><unitid>Ms. 5.</unitid><unittitle>"Tractatus de sacramento matrimonii, par Monsieur Halé, docteur de Sorbonne"</unittitle>
<unitdate>XVIIe siècle</unitdate><physdesc>Papier. 254 feuillets. 370 sur 230 millim.</physdesc></did>
 ?Fol. 1 v°. Note sur M. Halé et sur ses ouvrages.?</c01>

<c01><did><unitid>Ms. 1.</unitid><unittitle>S. Augustin, Cité de Dieu, traduction de Raoul de Presles.</unittitle>
<unitdate>XVe siècle</unitdate><physdesc>Papier. 376 feuillets. 380 sur 280 millim.</physdesc></did>
?Le manuscrit est incomplet de la fin et le texte s'arrête au milieu du livre IV. Miniature et encadrement sur vélin au fol. IIII.?</c01>

<c01><did><unitid>Ms. 12.</unitid><unittitle>"Le Miroir des curés, en deux livres"</unittitle>
<unitdate>XVe siècle</unitdate><physdesc>Papier. 280 et 248 feuillets. 282 sur 210 millim.</physdesc></did>
?Sorte de manuel contenant des instructions morales, des sermons pour les divers temps de l'année, des vies de saints, etc.?
<c02><did><unittitle>Livre I</unittitle></c02>
<c02><did><unittitle>Livre II</unittitle></c02>
?On lit sur le premier feuillet"Ce livre est à Mademoiselle...". Initiales et titre en rouge.
</c01>

Fabienne Queyroux
Conservateur chargé des collections de manuscrits
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Bibliothèque de l'Institut de France
23, quai de Conti
75006 Paris
Tél. 01 44 41 44 10
Fax 01 44 41 44 11