Wednesday, December 30, 2009


The Restrictions field will only be used occasionally.

The Restrictions field is used if the copyright for a photograph, for example, belongs to another organisation or person or if there is a restriction placed by the donor regarding access to or copying of an item.

If a photograph has been purchased from another organisation, a person requiring a copy of the photograph will need to contact the organisation from which the photographed was purchased.

Some local history collections contain photographs donated by local newspapers. The copyright of the photograph belongs with the local newspaper.

The local history collection might contain information that is restricted as it contains details that should not be in the public domain at this time but may be a valuable resource in the future, especially for family history researchers. For example lists of names of boys who spent time at a Youth Training Centre.

When acquiring items for the collection it is important that the relevant documentation including sections about copyright and reproduction items is completed and signed by the donor.


In the Victorian Local History Database the Address field is used to record the full address of a building when this information is available.

A frequently asked question in historical societies is, "Do you have any information about my house?" or information about another building.

Photographs, real estate leaflets, land brochures, articles from newspapers, pamphlets and books are just some of the items which may provide information about buildings and blocks of land.

Only use the Address field if the full address is known.

The address is written in the form of Suburb or town, Street, Number
For example:
Nunawading, Whitehorse Road, 279

If using the Address field in a database it may be a good idea to change the label of the field to Address of building in order to make it clear that it is the address of a building that is required and not the address of the publisher if the item is a book.

The Address field can be a useful field for researchers using local history catalogues.


In the Victorian Local History Database the Source field is used to record information relating to a publication from which an article has been taken. The publication may be a newspaper or magazine or a book.

The Source field allows you to record all the details about the publication - title, date, pages etc - in one place.

For example if the article was from Nunawading Gazette the information in the Source field might be:
Nunawading Gazette, 6 May 1982, p5

For example if the article was from a book the information in the Source field might be:
Alves, Lesley. Suburban Voices, 2001, pp9-12

For example if the article was from an encyclopaedia the information in the Source field might be:
Encyclopaedia Britannica , 1889, vol 3, p53

When using the Source field there is no need to include information in the Date field, Place field or Publisher field.

Publication details


The Date field, also called Date Made field in some databases or When Made, is the field where the date that an item was made is recorded.

For books it is the publication date of the book.

The date of publication is normally found on the title page of the book or the verso of the title page.

For photographs it is the date the photograph was taken.

For other items it is the date they were published or made.

In the Date field only record the year - 1947, 2003 etc.

If only an approximate date is known use the letter c for circa in front of the date - c1947, c2003 etc.

If it is necessary to use a date referring to a decade (not recommended) do not use an apostrophe (it is plural, not possessive) - 1920s, 1960s.

The Place field, also called Place Made field in some databases or Where Made, is the field where the place that an item was made is recorded.

For books it is the place where the book was published.

The place of publication is normally found on the title page of the book or the verso of the title page.

For photographs it is the place the photograph was taken.

For other items it is the place they were published or made, if known.

The term used in the Place field is the name of a city or town - Melbourne, Ballarat.

This field is used when cataloguing books to record the name of the publisher of the book.

The name of the publisher is normally found on the title page of the book or the verso of the title page.

Subjects (4)

Organisations as Subject headings - some guidelines

1. Be consistent when using the names of organisations as terms in the Subject field.

2. It is best to use only one form of the Company name as a Subject.

3. Use an Authority File for names of organisations / or companies to be used as a term in the Subject field.

4. Names of organisations change - generally use the latest names
For example:
Bayswater Primary School
Rather than
Bayswater State School

5. As churches often have common names, the place name is usually included when used as a term in the Subject field.
For example:
St Stephens Anglican Church, Bayswater
St Stephens Anglican Church, Richmond

6. Do not use apostrophes in names of organisations when used as terms in the Subject field.

Place names as Subject headings - some guidelines

1. Be consistent when using the names of places as terms in the Subject field.

2. Use only one form of the place name.

3.Use an Authority File for names of places when used as terms in the Subject field.

4. Do not use apostrophes in names of places when used as terms in the Subject field.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Subjects (3)

People as Subject headings - some guidelines

1. Enter Surname first followed by Given Name(s) eg. Brown, Susan

2. Only use titles such as Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms if given names, including initials are not available eg. Brown, Mr
An exception is when the given name or initial provided for the name of a woman is that of her husband and is not her given name eg. Smith, George (Mrs)

3. Use titles sparingly. Permanent titles such as Dr or Rev are OK eg. Jones, Brian (Dr) but do not use temporary titles such as Cr as part of the Subject term

4. Occupations and / or dates are generally not necessary as part of the Subject term. In some case qualifiers such as dates may be needed to distinguish a number of people with identical names but if this is done be consistent and use the same form of the name for one person every time.

5. When two people from the same family have the same name, identifiers such as (senior) or (junior) after the name may need to be used.

6. Be consistent. Choose one form of a person's name to use in the catalogue.
For example: Smith, Susan
Not Smith, S; Smith, Suzie; Smith, Sue; Smith, Susan Mary; Smith, S M; Smith, Susan, M

7. Use the form of the person's name by which the person is generally known for the Subject term. In the catalogue entry other forms of the name, if necessary, can be referred to in the Brief Description.

8. If a woman is known by both her maiden name and married name, entries for both names can be used. (Do not use eg. Brown, Susan (nee) Smith
Instead use the two names as separate Subject terms:
Smith, Susan
Brown, Susan

9. Create an Authority file for names

Subjects (2)

Subject Terms - some guidelines

1. Use a thesaurus when choosing indexing terms for Subjects.

2. Keep Subject terms simple and direct.
There is no need in a computer catalogue to include qualifying terms
For example: Hospitals – Sandringham – History
Instead use separate terms for Hospitals and Sandringham.
If the catalogue is primarily on the history of the area the term History can be taken as a given and there would normally be no need to use it.

3. When cataloguing get to know the searching power / capabilities of the database and decide how best to use the features to help the users of the catalogue locate the required items.

4. If the database allows for Boolean searching, select terms that will allow a researcher to use this feature.
For example terms for a photograph of Bayswater West Primary School would include:
Bayswater West Primary School

Using the above Subject terms a researcher would be able to locate items in the catalogue
(a) Specifically on Bayswater West Primary School
(b) Relating to Schools in general
(c) Relating to Bayswater in general
(d)On Schools in Bayswater by combining the terms Schools and Bayswater in a search
(e)On Schools from different areas excluding Bayswater

5. Know the collection and the terms that will help researchers access the items in the collection.
Determine the main themes and when items catalogued relate to one of those themes ensure that the term for that theme is included in the Subjects field for that item.
For example:

6. When cataloguing always try to think of terms that a researcher may need to find an item. Try and think from the viewpoint of the user.

7. Card catalogues, due to the size of cards, inhibited the number of Subjects used. Computer catalogues allow for more extensive use of Subjects, if required. However keep the Subjects relevant to the item being catalogued and remember that in cataloguing Subject terms are used to help locate an item, not necessarily to index the item.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Subjects (1)

General guidelines for using Subjects when cataloguing information collections

Subjects are terms used to help researchers locate information in a collection. Some databases call this field Keywords while Key Associations was used in earlier versions of the Museums Data Structure.

Databases can be set up allowing the creation of a field (Broad Search) where multiple fields from the database can be searched at once. This can be a useful way to locate information. However a search in such a field can produce a large number of records which need to be sifted through to locate relevant items. A selection of the items will often be false hits.

Using the Subject field allows researchers to undertake a structured search.

In computer databases terms can often be combined using Boolean search logic providing additional search possibilities. This needs to be kept in mind when selecting subject terms. There is therefore no need to add qualifiers to terms in computer databases - instead use specific terms that can be combined in a search if required.

Subjects can be names of people, places, organisations, buildings, objects and concepts.

A thesaurus should be used to ensure consistency in the use of terms for objects and concepts.
Victorian Local History Thesaurus is available online in the Local History Online section of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria website. Copies on cd-rom are available for purchase from the RHSV for $10.
Another online thesaurus is the Australian Pictorial Thesaurus.

A thesaurus provides a list of preferred terms to be used as subjects. Terms not to be used refer the user to the preferred term. Broader terms, narrower terms and related terms can also be provided.

See Subjects (2) for additional information on using terms for Subjects.

For consistency Authority Files should be used for names of people, organisations and places.
An Authority File for People is an alphabetical list of the form of the person's name to be used in the database.

See Subjects (3) for additional information on using names of people as terms in the Subjects field.

Determine the style to be used for the terms. Do not use block letters. Sentence case should be used unless the term is the name of a person, organisation or place when capital letters are used at the beginning of each word in the term.
For example:
Avenues of honour
Lysterfield Avenue of Honour

Do not use apostrophes in the Subject field. Using apostrophes in other database fields such as Title or Brief Description is fine but using apostrophes in Subject terms can lead to inconsistency.

See Subjects (4) for additional information on using names of organisations and places as terms in the Subjects field.

Author, Photographer, Illustrator

In the data structure for the Victorian Local History Database separate fields are provided for recording the name of the Author, Photographer and / or Illustrator. Some databases have one field - Maker Details - to record this information.

When recording the names of authors, photographers or illustrators follow library practice with Surname followed by Given name(s). - eg Colulson, Helen

If there are a number of items in the collection created by the same person, be consistent and use the same form of the name each time.

When cataloguing books only use the name of the photographer or illustrator if the person has contributed all the photographs or illustrations in the book.


The Size field provides the measurement of the item.

Photographs are measured in centimeters. The measurements recorded are Width (W) x Height (H). An example is 12 x 8 cm.
If the photograph is in a frame the measurement would be Width (W) x Height (H) x Depth (D).

The number of pages is used as the measurement for a book used for information rather than as an object. Example could be 210p or 18p. The number of pages indicate not only the size of the book but also helps a researcher determine the amount of information available on the topic.

Maps are measured in centimeters. The measurements recorded are Width (W) x Height (H).

Audio visual items
The size is recorded in minutes when this is known

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Brief Description

Information in the Brief Description (also called Description) field describes the item or the contents of the item in a short paragraph to accurately describe the item and to provide information enabling a researcher to decide whether or not the item will be useful.

Describe the contents of the book. If it is a general book you may want to include information as to why it is relevant for your collection - chapter 2 includes information about St John's church, for example. Often looking at the contents of a book provides sufficient information for a summary. An example might be - Topics include information about early history of the area, churches, schools, quarries, farming. Also note whether the book is illustrated, has a bibliography, has an index, includes maps. Often books have useful lists that should be noted such as list of mayors, list of head teachers, list of clergy.

The book - Footscray, a pictorial record of the Municipality from 1859 to 1988 - has the following description:
A large pictorial history of Footscray under the headings Town Hall, People places and churches, Parks hotels hospitals, Schools sport bands and processions, Commerce and industry, Street scenes and houses, Transport and trams, River and bridges. A list of subscribers to the book is on page 151.

Include type of photograph - eg black and white or coloured
Describe the contents of the photograph so that the researcher can visualise what the photograph is about and also be able to identify the actual photograph from the description.
If the item is framed, describe the frame.
If cataloguing a series of images as one set include information as to the number of images in the set and the subjects of the images in the set.

The image - Tram to Doncaster Tower - has the following description:
Black and white photograph of a poster advertising outings to the Doncaster Tower by means of the train from Princes Bridge Station to Box Hill, and thence by tram to Doncaster. The poster is illustrated by pictures of the tower and the closed box tramcar. The poster was printed for H. J. Hilton, the operator of the tram. (Photograph mounted with caption).


When a search for items is made in the Victorian Local History Database a summary list of items relating to the search is produced - information provided for each item is Title, type of item - book, photograph, map (Object Name) and name of organisation holding the item (Museum Code).

In the Victorian Local History Database title is therefore a compulsory field.

Many items such as books and audio visual material have titles. Other items, especially photographic images, may not. When there is a title use it as it is written. When there is not a title you will need to create one.

Use the title as written on the title page. Subtitles can be included in the title field but if the subtitle is very long, as is the case with some books written in the nineteenth century, subtitles can be included in the Brief Description field.

Some photographs have titles written on them but most do not. In this case you will need to create a title for the photographic image. Look at the photograph. What is it about? That is the title. The title for a photograph of St Stephen's Church, Bayswater would be St Stephen's Church, Bayswater. The title of a portrait of Jessie Smith would be Jessie Smith. In most cases the main subject heading would be the title of the image. Having too many images with just a place name may not be helpful. For example hundreds of photographs with the title Melbourne. If the photograph is a view of Collins Street, Melbourne then this should be the title. If the photograph is of a particular building in Collins Street, Melbourne then the name of the building would be the title.

If a title for the map is not printed on the map then create a title - usually the location as portrayed in map.