Cataloging Field Books: Describing Scientific Primary Resources


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Presented at Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) as part of Field Notes as Primary Sources on Friday 26 October, 2:15 to 3:45pm.

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Cataloging Field Books: Describing Scientific Primary Resources

  1. 1. Cataloging Field Books: Describing Scientific Primary Resources Sonoe Nakasone, Field Book Project
  2. 2. The problem
  3. 3. The solution?National Museum of Smithsonian Institution Natural History + Archives Mission: to create a Field Book Registry, one online location for field book content everywhere.
  4. 4. What is a field book anyway?*Primary source material documenting scientific field work for biodiversity research.
  5. 5. Why do we care about field notes?• Original data• Locality and travel routes• Specimen details• Environmental or cultural context• Historical information and personal narrative
  6. 6. Why should you care?Rich history of “amateur” naturalists – John James Audubon – Robert Kennicott – WWII Soldier Collecting – Citizen scientists and enthusiastsTop: Plate CCCCXXXI, the Greater Flamingo, painted by John James Audubon for his folio The Birds of America(1827-1838).Bottom: Bailey, Charles. “On the structure, the occurrence in Lancashire, and the source of origin of Naiasgraminea, Del., var. Delilei, Magnus” London? 1884.
  7. 7. How are relevant field books found?SIA reference questions by scientific expedition 2001 to 2011 – 26% Material type / form – 26% Place (25% place and date) – 26% Collector – 22% Discipline / specimens
  8. 8. How are field books described? MARC 15.4% No answer 33.3% Dublin Core 10.3% EAD 12.8% Specify Local 2.6% Schema ICMS 17.9% 7.7%
  9. 9. Description methods for Field Book ProjectCollection Natural Collections Description (NCD) Metadata Objects Description Schema (MODS)
  10. 10. Why MODS?• XML – Plain language – Platform independent• Simple, yet adaptable
  11. 11. ClarksburgBloody Run Schellsburg Allegh
  12. 12. 112111
  13. 13. 186182183 185 Salmon Pike
  14. 14. Item level description (not all elements shown) • Title • Form and Genre • Date • Geographic subjects • Accession number • Names of entities26% Collection / form • Material type • Topical subjects26% Place (25% place and date) • Location • Abstract26% Collector • Physical Description22% Discipline / specimens • Resource Type
  15. 15. 26% Material type / form Genre (AAT) Isness: Formats, material types, styles Field notes Sketches Maps Itineraries
  16. 16. 26% Place (25% place and date) Geographic subjects (TGN, GNIS) Places specimens were collected United States New York Pennsylvania District of Columbia Kentucky
  17. 17. Dates (ISO 8601 / W3CDTF) Date range (yyyy or yyyy-yyyy) Start date (YYYY or YYYYMMDD) End date (YYYY or YYYYMMDD)Qualifier (approximate, inferred, questionable)
  18. 18. 26% Collector Names as creators (VIAF) Persons, organizations, expeditions Creators, contributors Names as subjects (VIAF) Rafinesque, C. S. (Constantine Samuel), 1783-1840 = EACP20
  19. 19. 22% Discipline / specimens Topical subjects (LCSH) Aboutness: Topics, Disciplines, specimens Ichthyology Mollusks Botany Entomology Herpetology Mycology
  20. 20. Encoded Archival Context (EAC)• Creating archival authority records for persons, organizations, an d expeditions.• Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC)
  21. 21. Future goals• Full online digital access• Crowdsourcing• Education and Outreach• Global participation
  22. 22. AcknowledgementsRusty Russell, Co-PI Anne Van Camp, Co-PICollections & Informatics, Botany Director, SI Archives Carolyn Sheffield, Project Manager Sonoe Nakasone, Cataloging Coordinator Lesley Parilla, Cataloger and Graphics Designer Emily Hunter, Cataloger and Social Media Coordinator Kira Cherrix, Image and Video Digitization Specialist, SIA Ricc Ferrante, Director of Digital Services, SIA Tammy Peters, Supervisory Archivist, SIA Nora Lockshin, Paper Conservator, SIA Sarah Stauderman, Collections Care Manager, SIA Kirsten Tyree, Conservation Technician, SIA
  23. 23. Please Visit Our Website at us on Twitter!@FieldBookProjQuestions?Sonoe