----- Original Message -----
From: "Matt Bailey" <[log in to unmask]>
> Those of you who take care of AV collections in the context of a larger
> institution (such as a university or a museum), I am interested in
> hearing your opinions on whether you prefer a separate catalog or
> database for your materials or prefer to integrate your materials into
> the institution's catalog (such as an OPAC for a library).

Actually, I don't take care of AV collections in the context of a larger
institution (I have the knowledge, but not the required graduate degrees);
however, I do have substantial knowledge and experience in digitally
cataloguing phonorecords, since I personally own 32,000 of them and
have been working on a computer-based catalog system since 1989 (with
the inevitable data entry, which has to be done real-time, being the
main obstacle). My conclusions:

1) Most institutionally-integrated catalogs of sound recordings suffer
from trying to be force-fitted into applications designed for collections
of print media, primarily books...which usually make up a large majority
of institutional holdings. While the methods of cataloguing these media
are to some extent similar, they are NOT identical!

2) Also, there is an inherent conflict in the two different functions
of a phonorecord (and other sound recording) database. To the institution's
clients, the main purpose of such a database is to answer two questions:
a) do they have this item? and b) where is it? On the other hand, an
institutional catalog can serve as an important resource of discographic
information. While both needs can be served within a single database, it
requires well-designed queries to serve the two different sets of those
accessing the database.

3) Finally, institutions often wind up using proprietary custom-designed
programs for their databases...or else using long-obsolete commercial
software because of the complexity of migrating data to a new system.
Either way, it makes it difficult if not impossible to make the data
available to "outside" parties wishing to access it...even Internet
users. To further complicate things, the world of database usage
in general...especially within the institutions you
essentially a morass of parties who have no practical means to
access one another's archives. MS Access can import many formats
(but not, sadly, Filemaker)...but few if any database programs can
access Access (pun intended!).

4) I have been suggesting to ARSC for several years that they are
the logical body to establish some sort of standards for discographic
databases, both cataloguing (i.e. users "a") and archival (users "b").
We have the experience, both positive and negative, of RDI and AVRL
to guide us...

I'd be interested in any thoughts here...

Steven C. Barr