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Profiles of Collection Cataloging & Documentation Efforts by Museums, Archives & Library Special Collections

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  • January 2023
  • Region: Global
  • Primary Research Group
  • ID: 4832927

This study profiles the efforts of five university and/or museum-related institutions to catalog and document their collections; the organizations profiled are: the Pusey House Library at Oxford University in the UK, the Phillips Library of the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts; the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada; the Anthropology Department of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC; and the archives of the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre at Algoma University in Ontario, Canada.

The report was written by Laura Phillips, formerly Head of Museums Documentation for Qatar Museums and former Collections Manager at the Wolfsonian Museum.  

The 88-page report looks closely at issues and problems relating to provenance, collection documentation, marketing, cataloging and findability, digitization, nomenclature, retrieval and storage mechanics, and includes information on print and other information collections (including digital)  but also, perhaps with even greater emphasis, on artwork, artifacts and other objects of cultural and historic interest.

Each profile includes many of the general themes listed above but also provides its own unique story and themes.  The Shingwauk archives profile, for example, discusses how the Archive develops its own subject heading and archival framework, which it views as more appropriate and descriptive than out-of-the-box content headings. The University of British Columbia’s National Museum of Anthropology relates how a physical move of the museum to a new location became a great opportunity to significantly expand the Museum’s database of cataloging and documentation information about its collections.  At the Peabody Essex Museum, its profile describes the use of a newly implemented workflow management tool and other systems that enable the Museum to, among other things, track flow of collections both inside and, when needed, outside of the building.  The profile the Pusey House library depicts that organization’s efforts to integrate its collection into the main cataloging system of Oxford University, of which it is part.   The profile of the Anthropology collection at the Smithsonian institution’s National Museum of Natural History describes, among many other processes, how corrections to databases are made, and how cataloging practices developed at the Museum and in the Anthropology Department over time.

Table of Contents

ALGOMA UNIVERSITY, Shingwauk Residential School Centre: Archival Cataloguing
  • About Algoma University
  • About the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre
  • Profile Interviewee: Krista McCracken, Archives Supervisor, Researcher and Curator
  • How the mission relates to Cataloguing
  • Collections at the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre
  • Cataloguing Overview
  • Cataloguing History
  • Cataloguing Workflows
  • Enhancing archival catalogue records
  • Sharing the Collections Online
  • Future Cataloguing Priorities, from 2019 on
  • Archives Documentation and Provenance
  • New Ways to think about Provenance for Archival Collections
  • Lessons Learned for Cataloguing Archives
  • Future Considerations for Cataloguing Archives

UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, Museum of Anthropology: Museum Cataloguing/Documentation
  • About the University of British Columbia
  • About the Museum of Anthropology [MOA]
  • Profile Interviewee: Ann Stevenson
  • Overview of Museum Collections at MOA
  • Museum Cataloguing and Programming at MOA
  • Museum Cataloguing / Documentation History at MOA
  • MOA and National Database projects
  • MOA’s Cataloguing or Documentation work flow
  • Paper records and MOA
  • Museum Collections Management Database at MOA
  • MOA’s Challenges with Authority Lists and Classifications
  • MOA and Community Names
  • Museum Cataloguing / Documentation Projects
  • MOA’s Collections Online
  • The Reciprocal Research Network [RRN]
  • Artefacts Canada
  • Artstor
  • Different configurations of MOA data
  • Future Cataloguing and Documentation Priorities, from 2019 on
  • Museum Documentation and Provenance at MOA
  • Enhancing museum records
  • New Ways to think about Cataloguing and Documentation for Museum Collections
  • Future Considerations for Museum Cataloguing and Documentation Work
  • The Lexicon Task Force
  • Data Sharing Possibilities in the Future
  • Closing Advice for Museums for Cataloguing and Documentation Work
  • Additional Resources for MOA Cataloguing

PEABODY ESSEX MUSEUM, The Phillips Library, Salem, Massachusetts
  • About Peabody Essex Museum
  • About the Phillips Library
  • History and Extent of Collections
  • Funding
  • Profile Interviewees
  • Cataloguing and Programming at the Phillips Library
  • Cataloguing the Print Collections
  • Cataloguing the Manuscript Collections
  • Cataloguing System: ExLibris Voyager
  • Digital Asset Management System [DAMS]
  • Metadata Standards
  • Online Records
  • Location Management-Internal
  • Location Management – External
  • Authorities in Use at the Phillips Library
  • Cataloguing History at the Phillips Library
  • Cataloguing Backlogs at the Phillips Library
  • Cataloguing and Educational Programming
  • Cataloguing for Educational Access for Researchers
  • Cataloguing for Exhibition Support
  • Justifying Cataloguing Work and Outcomes
  • Provenance at the Phillips Library
  • Provenance and the Manuscript Collections
  • Provenance and the Print Collection
  • Acquisition Details
  • Cataloguing Challenges at the Phillips Library
  • Lessons Learned at the Phillips Library
  • Future Considerations for Cataloguing at the Phillips Library
  • Digital Collections
  • Catalogues in the Future

PUSEY HOUSE, Pusey House Library, Oxford, England
  • Profile Interview: Anna James, Pusey House Librarian & Archivist
  • About Pusey House
  • About the Pusey House Library
  • History and Extent of Collections
  • Funding for Pusey House
  • Funding for Pusey House Library
  • Cataloguing History at Pusey House Library
  • Pusey House Library integration with the Bodleian Library Database SOLO / OLIS
  • Cataloguing the Printed Library Collections
  • Cataloguing the Archival Collections
  • Cataloguing Systems and Standards in use at Pusey House Library
  • Online Records - Library
  • Online Records - Archive
  • Location Management for Collections at Pusey House
  • Location Management - Library
  • Location Management - Archives
  • Cataloguing and Programming
  • Justifying Cataloguing Work and Outcomes
  • Provenance at Pusey House Library
  • Acquisition Details
  • Cataloguing Challenges at Pusey House Library
  • Lessons Learned at Pusey House Library
  • Fundraising for Cataloguing
  • Fundraising Advice for Cataloguing
  • Structure of the Cataloguing Project
  • Future Considerations for Cataloguing at Pusey House Library
  • Digital Collections

SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION, National Museum of Natural History, Anthropology Department
  • Profile Interviewees: David Rosenthal and Carrie Beauchamp
  • About the Smithsonian Institution
  • About the National Museum of Natural History
  • About the Anthropology Department
  • Overview of Collections in the Anthropology Department
  • Cataloguing Overview
  • Funding for Cataloguing at the National Museum of Natural History
  • The Emu/Axiell Collections Management Database
  • The EMu relationship to other Smithsonian cataloguing databases
  • Cataloguing Work Flows
  • Locations Management
  • Authority Lists and Classifications
  • Cataloguing and Documentation History
  • Ledger Books
  • Basic Cataloguing Details
  • Cataloguing over time
  • Catalogue Cards in the Department of Anthropology
  • Sharing the Collections Online
  • Documentation and Provenance
  • Cataloguing Backlogs
  • Cataloguing Focus over Time: Mission and Vision
  • Cataloguing and Access to the Collections
  • Cataloguing and Educational Uses of the Collections
  • Future Considerations for Cataloguing
  • Additional Resources
  • Appendices
  • Smithsonian Department of Anthropology Data Accession Sheet used 1970s to early 2000s
  • Example of Cataloguing Template for Uploading into Emu
  • List of Basic Cataloguing Fields in Use as of 2019