Sunday, November 22, 2009

Object Name

In the Victorian Local History Database the Object Name field is used to describe the type of publication being catalogued.

In some databases the Object Name field is called Publication Type.

A set list of object names for use in the regional database has been prepared:

* Article - articles from newspapers, books and other publications
* Audiotape - includes audio cassettes
* Book - the type of book does not matter
* CD
* Correspondence
* Document
* Ephemera - invitations, tickets, programs etc - items that might normally be thrown away
* Family Tree - (not a family tree included in a book)
* Folder - societies often have folders of information on a topic catalogued as one entry
* Illustration - artwork of various types
* Manuscript - unpublished work
* Map
* Microform - includes microfilm and microfiche
* Newspaper - if the society keeps newspapers
* Pamphlet
* Periodical - serial publication such as a magazine
* Photograph - used for all formats of photographs
* School Project - some societies have local history material created by school children
* Videotape
* Website

The Object Name field is used to help narrow searches in the Victorian Local History Database. For example, using Boolean search operators to combine fields, a search may be made for only photographs on a topic or information on a topic excluding photographs.

Museum Code

The Victorian Local History Database requires each entry to include a Museums Code field.

The Museums Code is the unique identifier for an organisation participating in a regional project.

Many years ago the National Library of Australia allocated National Union Catalogue Symbols to libraries and other collecting bodies who might participate in national and regional networks, particularly the Australian National Bibliographic Database. Additional information about this is available at

Many societies have these codes which can be used as the Museum Code in the Victorian Local History Database.

The code, for Victorian institutions begins with the letter V followed by three or four letters from the alphabet. Examples of these codes are VBXH, VDTH, VNHS, VWMR

If your society does not have a code and wishes to contribute entries to the Victorian Local History Database contact the co-ordinator of the project to be allocated a unique code for the project.

In the Victorian Local History Database the Museum Code appears in each entry to identify the society contributing the record. A list of codes and full contact details for the organisation is available from a link on the search screen of the database. The Museum Code field and the Registration Number field together provide the uniquie identifier for each record in the regional database.

Registration Number

The Registration Number (registration no in Small Museums Cataloguing Manual) can also be referred to as the accession number or record number.

It is a unique number used to identify an item.

There are many different ways to number items. Whatever method is chosen, be consistent.

Items can be numbered numerically - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 etc

Zeros can be added before the numbers - 0001, 0002, 0003, 0004, 0005 etc

Collections may be divided into sections - photographs - books - documents - artefacts - and a letter indicating the section used before the sequential number - P0001, P0002, P0003, P0004, P0005 etc A0001, A0002, A0003, A0004, A0005 etc

Collections may be divided into subject categories - schools - families etc - and a letter indicating the subject category used before the sequential number - S0001, S0002, S0003 etc

Barcode numbers can be used

If the records are to be included in a regional database a code indicating the name of the organisation may be required before the sequential number - W0001, W0002, W0003 etc or VKHS0001, VKHS002, VKHS0003 etc whatever type of code is decided by the regional database co-ordinator. This ensures individual numbers for all items in the regional database.

In the Victorian Local History Database both the Registration Number field and the Museum Code field are combined to create the individual number so any existing system used by organisations in recording record numbers can be accepted.

Some organisations have devised more complicated numbering systems representing, for example, name of organisation, type of item, subject category and numerical sequence, for example DD5AF1D3

If an item has multiple parts they can be distinguished using subdivisions such as WH0404.1, WH0404.2

Note it is advisable not to use the slash (/) sign to indicate the subdivision of a number as some database programs use this symbol as a Boolean search operator resulting in confusion when searching for Registration Numbers if used.

Whatever numbering system is chosen it must be provide a unique number for each item.

If Registration Numbers have not already been allocated for items and cataloguing is starting from scratch some programs provide the option of automatic numbering systems. Make sure that the number allocated is then recorded on the item.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Victorian Local History Database

The Victorian Local History Database is a regional database containing cataloguing records from participating societies affiliated with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria.

The database can be access on the RHSV website either from the Local History Online page or the Affiliated Societies page.

The records in the database describe non-0bject items held in collections. Only the fields describing the item are used in the regional database.

Societies involved in the project export the required fields for each record and email the file to the RHSV to be imported into the regional database.

Societies do not need to have direct access to the Internet in order to be involved.

Although the database at the RHSV used in this project is DB/TextWorks, records from other databases and catalogues such as those created by File Maker Pro, Access and Excel can be included provided that the records can be exported as Ascii or comma delimited files. Field names of exported records need to be the same as the field names used in the Victorian Local History Database.

Advantages for societies in being part of the Victorian Local History Database project include:
  • Societies not involved in other regional database projects can have their records included in a state-wide local history database.
  • Regional Internet databases promote the organisations contributing records.
  • Collections in historical societies form part of the Distributed National Collection. Participation in regional databases promotes the important and often unique items held in collections.
  • Regional Internet databases allow researchers from anywhere in the world to locate material held in collections.
  • Using regional local history databases can allow researchers to follow new research threads in collections they may not have originally considered searching.

If researchers are interested in items located via the Victorian Local History Database held in a society collection, they contact the society directly to find out how they can obtain a copy. A list of contact details for each participating society is provided.

For further information on how societies can become involved in this project email the RHSV at

Small Museums Cataloguing Manual

The 4th edition of the Small Museums Cataloguing Manual is now available online on the Museums Australia (Vic) website -

The manual is a guide to cataloguing object and image collections. The third edition of the catloguing manual was published in 1996 and although the information provided on cataloguing objects in particular was excellent it made little reference to the computer cataloguing of collections. The new edition assumes that computer catalogues are being created to record information about collection items.

There has been a substantial revision of the fields included in the 4th edition of the manual.
Sections provided in the new edition are:

Registration No
Object Name
Inscriptions and Markings
Makers Details
When Made
Where Made
When Used
Where Used
Acquisition Details
Storage Location
Current Location
Supplementary File

A number of sections are no longer included in the new structure. The most notable field omitted from the new structure is classification.

When cataloguing objects I always recommend to societies that they follow the guidelines in the Small Museums Cataloguing Manual.

However when cataloguing items to be used specifically for information / research such as books, photographs, maps audio visual material, documents, ephemera, newspapers etc. some modifications to the structure make the cataloguing of these items easier to catalogue and to use.

Future posts will contain suggestions for cataloguing non object collections.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

DB/TextWorks versions

The most recent version of DB/TextWorks is version 12 (2009).

Maxus website contains a list of the features added to each new version of DB/TextWorks from version 3 to the latest version. The first version of DB/TextWorks was version 2.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

DB/TextWorks and Vista

Later versions of DB/TextWorks - versions 11 and 12 - should run on Vista with minimum problems.

The following posts may help.

Windows Vista users may need to right–click on the DBTextWorks exe file and select "Run as Administrator" to install the software.

How to Install Inmagic DB/TextWorks on Vista

Storing Files
A warning not to install database files in the Programs folder - set up a new folder for storing database files. This has always been the recommended practice but it is important to ensure that this is done when using Vista:

Inmagic DB/TextWorks and Vista Virtualization -

Unfortunately the Help function does not automatically work in Vista. The following may rectify the problem.

Textbase Help Won't Work in Vista

Error Opening the .CHM Help File in Vista

Compatibility Mode
In Vista older programs may run using XP Compatibility Mode. In theory if it worked in XP it should operate using this option.

Using Windows 7 or Vista Compatibilty Mode