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Cataloging Individual Oral History Interviews Susan C. Wynne OLAC Conference Macon, Georgia 16 October 2010
Outline • Definition and importance of oral history • Summary of cataloging issues from 2007 survey of Georgia academic libraries • Description of CSU project • Cataloging decisions/considerations • Creating MARC records for individual interviews • Exercise
What is oral history? “The process of deliberately eliciting and preserving, usually in audio or audio and visual recording media, a person’s spoken recollections of events and experiences based on first-hand knowledge.” Oral History Cataloging Manual
Another definition “A process of collecting, usually by means of a tape-recorded interview, recollections, accounts, and personal experience narratives of individuals for the purpose of expanding the historical record of a place, event, person, or cultural group.” Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
And another… “Oral history is the recording, preservation and interpretation of historical information, based on the personal experiences and opinions of the speaker.” Wikipedia, 23 August 2010.
Oral history interview • Covers subject(s) of historical interest • Conducted by an interviewer who has some understanding of the subject(s) • Knowledgeable interviewee • Interactive • Question and answer format • Intended to be available to researchers
Oral history project “Series of oral history interviews focused on documenting a topic, theme, era, place, organization, event, or group of people, conducted according to a plan, usually under the auspices of an institution or a group of cooperating institutions.” OHCM
Oral history collection “Oral history materials from various interviews not associated with an oral history project, usually assembled at some time after their creation by an individual collector, or by a repository for convenience in management or description. A collection, like an oral history project, often has an identifiable theme or focus.” OHCM
Why is oral history important? • Fills gaps in the historical record • Supplements and aids in understanding the historical record • Often preserves viewpoints or experiences of underrepresented groups • May document everyday life or give behind-the-scenes perspective on a well known event, person, organization, etc. • Connects personal experiences with history and social context • Catalogers may be shifting local expertise to unique or hidden collections
Why are oral histories difficult to catalog? • Lack of consensus in access methods • Standard manual needs updating • “Neither fish nor fowl” … are they more like archival or published materials? • Multiple formats • Names and organizations often require some authority work • Often no dedicated staff or funding for managing access to oral histories • May be little or no accompanying information
Choice of cataloging methods • MARC records in local catalog and/or WorldCat • Finding aids (online and/or print) • Inventory • In-house • Digital library • Non-MARC metadata (e.g., Dublin Core)
Benefits of the MARC approach • No need to consult a separate resource to discover oral history materials • Navigate between oral histories and other types of material on the same subjects • Contributing to WorldCat is one way to share beyond the local institution • Less of a learning curve if staff are already familiar with MARC
Grimsley and Wynne’s 2007 survey • 31 Georgia academic institutions • Access issues related to oral histories • Methods of intellectual access vary • Respondents held variety of formats • Only one respondent (CSU) reported using OHCM • Few respondents reported applying authority control to subjects and names related to oral histories [caveat]
Columbus State University’s project (or, How did I get myself into this?) • Project initiated by former archivist Reagan Grimsley • ~500 oral histories lacking intellectual access except for rudimentary in-house finding aid • Many typescripts and analog recordings from the 1970s and 1980s • Collaboration between archivist and cataloger • New acquisitions and cataloging policies • Grant to digitize selected typescripts • Collective finding aids and MARC records for selected individual interviews
CSU’s workflow • Archives staff copy typescript onto acid-free paper and create artificial title page for each typescript • Periodicals Assistant prepares photocopied typescript for binding • Cataloger creates MARC record using OCLC Connexion Client, exports record from OCLC into ILS, and creates holdings (for copied typescripts only) • Cataloging Assistant creates item record and performs minimal physical processing on bound typescript
Cataloging considerations (top-level) • Staffing • Priority level • Size of collection/backlog • Transcripts
Cataloging considerations • Unit of description • Format(s) to be described (especially which format(s) are available for use) • “Readily available” information • Level of authority control • Classification • Choice of cataloging method (not discussed in depth here)
Unit of description • Collection level • Project level • Individual
Collective vs. individual descriptions Collective (Project or Collection Level) Individual (Item level) • Required according to OHCM • Oral histories typically collected in groups • Consistent with archival principle of provenance • Demonstrates shared focus and characteristics within the group • Useful when interviews are more meaningful as a group • No need to repeat information in multiple individual records • Optional according to OHCM • More granular access • More time-consuming • Need a mechanism for demonstrating relationships • Useful when interviews may be able to stand alone • Useful when information about the collection/project is scarce
Formats to be described • Rule: describe the format(s) available for use • Optionally, also describe original recordings
“Readily available” information • Which pieces of information are most important? • How much time can you spend in research? • Consider your users, priorities, staffing, and possibly the context of each interview
Authority control • Contribute records to OCLC authority file (NACO participants) • Create records in local system (always, or only in special cases) • Construct AACR2 (or RDA?!) headings but do not create authority records • Use LCSH or another controlled vocabulary • Create a specialized vocabulary • Uncontrolled keyword
Classification possibilities • Biographies • Local history • Subject of the interview (i.e., textile mills, school desegregation) • Accession number or other local system • Class interviews in a project together • Others?
Crash course in oral histories for catalogers • Context is more important • Less emphasis on transcribing information from the item into the record—most information is provided by the cataloger • Obtain information from the typescript and/or recording itself, finding aids, release forms, labels, and any accompanying material • External reference sources can be helpful and sometimes necessary (to clarify names, events, locations, etc.) • Copious notes
OHCM’s fundamental elements for individual interviews • Indication of form (i.e., oral history interview) • Name(s) of interviewee(s) • Date(s) of interview • Statement of quantity or extent, including physical format • Name(s) of interviewer(s)
OHCM’s fundamental elements for individual interviews • Language of interview, if other than English • Summary of the nature, content, and scope of the interview • Restrictions on access and/or use, if applicable • Name of the project or collection, if applicable If any of these fundamental elements is not available, state in a note that it is missing
2-minute version of this presentation • Who … interviewee(s) & biographical sketch, interviewer(s), persons or groups that are subjects of the interview • What … oral history interview, format(s) • When … date(s) involved, time periods discussed • Where … place(s) discussed in interview, location of interview • Why … project or collection name, subjects discussed, summary
Type code (Leader/06) Varies according to the format(s) you are describing • p (mixed materials) for multiple formats • i (nonmusical sound recording) for audio only • g (projected media) for video only • t (manuscript language material) for unpublished typescript/transcript only
BLvl code • Depends on unit of description • Cannot use BLvl “m” with mixed materials workform • Use “c” with mixed materials workform or for collective description • Use “m” when describing one format only
Other fixed fields • Country code = xxu (unpublished, United States) • Add 006 for each format as needed • Add 007 for each format as needed • Ctrl = a (archival control) • DtSt = usually s (single date) for individual interviews, could be i (inclusive dates) for interviews, projects, or collections spanning different dates
006 and 007 examples 006 for typescript: t 000 0 006 for sound recording: innn t 007 for sound recording (standard cassette): s $b s $d l $e u $f n $g j $h l $i c $j u $k p $l n $m u $n e
Main entry (MARC 1XX or 245) • Interviewee (MARC 100) • If multiple interviewees, use the predominant interviewee (or title) • Use relator terms in $e 100 1_ $a Perry, Ophelia S., $e interviewee.
Title (MARC 245) • Form element • Name(s) element • Date(s) element • GMD not used unless describing only one format: electronic resource, microform, sound recording, or videorecording 245 10 $a Oral history interview with Ophelia S. Perry, $f 1988 Feb. 23.
Statement of responsibility (MARC 245 $c) • OHCM omits statement of responsibility • Rule: give responsibility information in notes • CSU decided to add SOR: / $c conducted by Harvey Phelps.
Edition statement (MARC 250) • Do not give an edition statement • If the interview exists in multiple versions (e.g., edited transcript), give this information in a note 500 $a Transcript heavily edited.
Publication information (MARC 260) • Do not provide a publication statement for unpublished oral histories • Date appears in 245 $f
Physical description (MARC 300) • Describe formats available for use (optionally, may also describe original format) • Multiple MARC 300 fields if applicable • Use $3 with multiple 300 fields to specify the material • Required: specific material designation and number of units • Optional: playing time, type of recording (analog or digital), playing speed, dimensions • Playing time is usually not readily available for CSU’s holdings
Physical description examples 300 __ $3 Typescript: $a 13 leaves, bound ; $c 29 cm. 300 __ $3 Sound recording: $a 1 sound cassette : $b analog.
Series statements • OHCM: Concept of series does not apply to oral histories • CSU uses series statements as one means to collocate projects and collections in the absence of collective descriptions • CSU also collocates the entire oral history collection with a series statement
Series statement examples 830 _0 $a Mill worker oral history collection 830 _0 $a Columbus State University oral history collection
Minimum required notes in OHCM • Interview details (MARC 518) • Scope/content/abstract (MARC 520)
Interview details (MARC 518) Required: • Date(s) of interview • Name of interviewer • Language (if other than English) Optional: • Location of interview • Names of any other persons present • Sponsorship (if applicable) • Any other circumstances surrounding the interview
Interview details example 518 __ $a Interview conducted by Harvey Phelps in Columbus, Ga., for the Mill Worker Oral History Project, 23 February 1988.
Scope/Content/Abstract (MARC 520) • Topics, conditions, issues, etc. • Events, activities, etc. • Places or geographic areas • People • Organizations • Time periods • Opinions/attitudes of interviewee • Summary of stories/anecdotes
Scope/content/abstract example 520 __ $a Ophelia Perry discusses working conditions, wages, labor-management relations, race relations, benefits, and women’s jobs, in the Bibb Manufacturing Company mill during World War II through the 1970s.