The Metadata Structure for a Digitized Historical Fashion CollectionA comparison of MARC, DC, and VRA Core Marcia Lei Zeng Kent State University Research supported by OCLC
Background of the Project • The KSU Museum • opened in 1985, one of the largest and finest collections of costumes in the U.S.; • with holdings spanning the mid-18th century to the present day; • initially assembled by Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman-successful dress manufacturers on New York's Seventh Avenue; • now numbers 20,000+ pieces.
Background of the Project (cont.) • Kent State University Library and KentLINK • comprises the Main Library and five specialized branch libraries; --including one for the School of Fashion Design and Merchandising; • is a member of OhioLINK consortium
Background of the Project (cont.) • The Project Team • KSU Museum • KSU Library & Media Services • My roles: (as a researcher) • metadata formats • cataloging guidelines, examples, and a template • The Web Site (prototype) • http://newmedia.kent.edu/waw/
each object usually had the following characteristics: • being in three dimensions, • having multiple components (removable pieces), • requiring that pieces of items be treated both integrally and separately, • carrying information about history, culture, and society, and • demonstrating in detail about style, pattern, material, color, technique, etc.
Think of … 1. How to describe it? 2. What standard(s) and format(s) to use? 3. What access points should be provided? 4. What to transcribe?
Costume items: 1820-1920 American costumes collection Manchu robes collection Non-Costume items: furniture decorative arts bedding porcelain items The research sample
5 MARC 1. Create new records 5 VRA 5 DC 2. Convert records into two other formats 3. Revise the VRA Core categories 4. Apply VRA Core to additional 90 items
Selecting a format • AACR2 and USMARC • The Core Categories for Visual Resources (VRA Core) • Dublin Core Metadata (Dublin Core, or, DC) • Two local considerations: compatibility and simplicity.
The Core Categories for Visual Resources (VRA Core) • I. WORK DESCRIPTION CATEGORIES • 19 Categories • II. VISUAL DOCUMENT DESCRIPTION CATEGORIES • 9 categories
Major challenge 1: Transcribing • Museum objects often carry no wording at all. • Museum objects usually offer nothing comparable to the author, title, date of a published work. • AUTHOR/CREATOR • TITLE • PUBLISHER • Author=creator=designer=manufacture=? • Title<=general term=>subject term?
Major challenge 2: Description and Interpretation • “Biography” • Identity • Function and construction • Temporal and geographical significance • History, cultures background • Social and cultural context • see examples:
owner, or person related to the item • e.g., "This dress, bonnet and shawl all belonged to Marie Eleanor Bente who married Gerhart Henry Albers in 1865. • ... ... Gerhart Albers served in the Union Army during the Civil War and acted as a translator for German speaking troops. His name is inscribed on the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Public Square in Cleveland." • e.g., "Fan gift of Ben Frost in memory of Carolyn Frost."
significance of patterns, colors, customs, etc. • e.g., "On the center front of this red silk satin coat is embroidered a puzi with a mandarin duck, emblem of a seventh-degree civil official"; • e.g., "A bride was considered an 'empress' on her wedding day, and quasi-official bridal attire often had imagery adapted from Manchu court costume, including the imperial dragon and the phoenix, fenghuang, associated with the empress."
style history • e.g., "Dresses in this style, with knee-length fronts of the bodice flowing into the polonaise, are illustrated in 'The Queen' for October, 1871, and continue through to 1873. The applied band on the skirt appears in 'Le Follet' in March, 1872 and 'The Queen' for July, 1872.”
Major challenge 2: (CONT.)Description and Interpretation • (MARC) 5xx NOTES 500 (general note), 508 (creation/reproduction credits note), 520 (summary, abstract, annotation, scope note), 535 (location of originals/duplicates note), 541 (acquisition note), 561 (provenance note), and 585 (exhibition note), … ... • DC:DESCRIPTION DC:RELATION • (VRA Core) RELATED WORK, RELATIONSHIP TYPE, MEASUREMENTS, TECHNIQUES, MATERIAL, REPOSITORY NAME, REPOSITORY PLACE, NOTES
Major challenge 3: Representation of Subjects • “Ofness” and “Aboutness” • Various ways to access • chronological, geographical, cultural influence, style/group name, … ... • SUBJECT • KEYWORD • NATIONALITY/CULTURE • STYLE/ PERIOD/ GROUP/ MOVEMENT • MATERIAL
1) Registration Information: accession information, nature of the item, patent information, credit, source/donor, owner(s), mode in which the item was acquired, primary designers and manufacturer, dates, exhibition history, etc.; Desired Elements in a record (I) table1
Desired Elements in a record (II) • 2) Descriptive Information: • type, • style or particular culture influence, • accessories and parts, • dimension, • dye(s), • fabric, • pattern, • surfacing and technique, etc. Table 2
Desired Elements in a record (III) • 3) Subject/Topic Information: • subject terms that indicate • the function of a costume, • its primary cultural influence, • its period of fashion design, and • notable terms beyond a general description. Table 3
My Opinion: • In general, existing metadata standards are primarily designed for document and document-like objects and for limited types of objects. • They have not progressed enough to include much of the key information related to a historical fashion object.
USMARC (in use with AACR2) • Provides an exhaustive format for description (e.g., uses various notes, differentiates various subject heading sources). • However, its use requires a great deal of time and professional skill. (Sample record) • Important fields for authorship, title, and publication information are difficult to apply. • (This point also applies to other two formats.)
Dublin Core • Provides an easy application to create minimum level records. • But, for the fashion collection, it needs to supplement more descriptive elements. (sample record) (may be true for any non-document or non-document-like collection.)
VRA Core • Its treatment of a variety of specific elements matches fashion characteristics better than the other two formats. • Also needs some enhancement/ supplement work.
Revised VRA Work Description Categories • Categories added: SECONDARY MATERIALS, QUANTITY, COLOR, STRUCTURE. • Revised: CREATOR and ROLE • Sub-categories added: PROVENANCE, CITATIONS, CONSERVATION, etc. in NOTES • Categories further divided: NOTES, SUBJECTS (see a sample record)
Research Outcomes: • A Template for cataloging • circe.slis.kent.edu/mzeng/mtech/vratemplate.html demo • Revised VRA Core Work Description Categories (linked through the template) • Mapping tables Revised VRA Core -->USMARC Revised VRA Core -->DC (indicated under each category’s definition; built in the template; cannot completely automatic mapping)
Acknowledgment • OCLC • KSU Museum • KSU New Media Services • my proof-reading friends • JASIS referees • Dr. Linda Hill • Dr. Richard Rubin
Full report @: JASIS 50(13) Annual Review of OCLC Research website (coming soon) or www.slis.kent.edu/~mzeng/OCLCreport/cover.htmllink Marcia Lei Zeng Research supported by OCLC