Monday, November 12, 2012

Editing databases 3

    5.  to check for the use of multiple terms in a field if the data is to be transferred into another database structure where only one term is allowed in a field
    The next stage in the life of the regional database on the library website is to transfer the records as a subset of the library catalogue. In order to do this the information in some of the fields needed to be edited.

    In DB/TextWorks databases multiple terms can be added to a field using the F7 key to separate each term. Consequently the data structure created for the local history database had just the one field for Title and one field for Author. The MARC records used in the library catalogue required only one title in the Title field and one Author in the Author field with an additional field for Added Authors.

    It was therefore necessary to check for records that had more than one title or multiple authors. To do this I created a series of report forms (Display menu, Design Form, then choose Blank Form) with one box for the Accession Number and the second box for Title or Author for example. In this second box I made sure that the 'make each item or entry a paragraph' option was used.
    The new form was then selected as the Report form and search was made for the items that required checking. Scrolling through the list was not a particularly exciting task and amused my work colleagues when they passed my desk. However the report form worked and I was able to identify and then alter the records that needed to be changed for the next stage of the database.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Editing databases 2

4.  to remove spaces in records caused by use of the Enter key, particularly after data has been entered in a field leaving spare lines in the report and display forms

The spaces that appear in the above image in the Author, Genre, Subjects and Comments fields are caused by using the Enter key when data is entered.

This can easily be corrected by viewing the record in the Edit form and backspacing where the spaces caused by the use of the Enter key occur.
Generally the use of the Enter key will just cause the records to look untidy but for some projects it is necessary to locate and remove all occurrences of the use the Enter key, particularly if records are to be transferred to an Excel spreadsheet or another database that accepts records in an Excel format.

We encountered this issue in the library when IT decided to publish the local history databases online using MySQL. Any records where the Enter key had been used were rejected and unlike DB/TextWorks which informs you when records are not imported the library online database didn't.

One way to check for the use of the Enter key in a group of records is to export a set of records, view the export file in Notepad and use the Find feature (under the Edit menu) to locate the > symbol which appears when the Enter key has been used.
I take a note of the records that require editing and make the corrections in the database.
Another way would be to make the alterations in the Notepad file and then import the file back into the database, making sure that the the changed records replaced the existing records.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Editing a database

No matter how careful you are when entering data it may be necessary to edit the database records.

Database records are edited:
  1. to maintain consistency of information in fields
  2. to correct misspelling of words or terms that need to be altered
  3. to ensure that the F7 key (and not the Enter key) has been used when an additional term is added to a list, for example in Subjects
  4. to remove spaces in records caused by use of the Enter key, particularly after data has been entered in a field leaving spare lines in the report and display forms
  5. to check for the use of multiple terms in a field if the data is to be transferred into another database structure where only one term is allowed in a field
  6. to check for multiple versions of a record to merge if information from other sources has been added to the database, for example if information from different sources has been entered initially in Excel and then transferred into the database
Editing to identify instances of numbers 1, 2, 3 and 6 can be done via the Search Screen
F3 key
In DB/TextWorks databases placing the cursor in any of the field on the Search Screen and then using the F3 key will give you a list of all the entries or terms in that field. Scrolling down the list usually shows any inconsistencies that require attention.
Examples of instances where editing may be required:
Example 1 - Error in entering data
After using the F3 key in the Accession / Registration Number field the list showed
          1     B
          1     7065
          1     B0001
          1     B0002
The entries for B and &7065 needed to be corrected
Example 2 - Misspelling
After using the F3 key in the Subjects field the list showed
          10     Australian Tessallated Tile Co
          29     Australian Tessellated Tile Co
Batch Modify option was used to correct the misspelling of Tessellated
Example 3 - Using Enter key instead of F7 for a new term
After using the F3 key in the Subjects field the list showed
          1     Schools Churches Hotels
The entry was corrected by placing the cursor in front of the second and subsequent terms and then using the F11 key
Example 6 - Merging data from several records in one field
For one project information about people originally recorded on a number of Excel spreadsheets was imported into a database. A search under Name showed that, in some cases, there were multiple records for the same person.
          4     Smith, John
          2     Smith, Thomas
Once the multiple records for each name were identified, relevant information from some fields was cut and pasted into one record the the person. Once this was done the records no longer required were deleted. 

Basic Query Screen or Add Query Box
If the Search Screen does not contain a field you want to search, either go to the Select Query Screen icon (fourth icon from the left) and choose Basic Query Screen which contains all the fields in the database
 or select the Add Query Box icon (third icon from left)
and then select the field required.

This will produce a temporary field box on the Search Screen until the database is closed.
Once the items to be edited have been located, records can be edited individually or if the same change needs to be made to a term in the same field for a group of records then the changes can be made using Batch Modify.
Batch Modify
Once the records to be edited have been selected, go to the Records menu and choose Batch Modify.
Select the field to modify and then select how the set of records will be modified. In the above example Substitute Entry is the operation chosen while Matching is selected in the Affects column. The existing term is typed in the Old Entry box while the new term is typed in the New Entry box. Click OK, read the information in the next box that comes on the screen and if the information is correct click the OK button. 
Additional examples of Batch Modify
More information about editing databases in subsequent posts.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Computers & Cataloguing Yahoo group

With the closure of My Connected Community (mc2) at the end of June the information in the Computers & Cataloguing mc2 has been transferred to new online group with the same name in Yahoo groups. As in our former mc2 group the Computers & Cataloguing group in Yahoo groups provides a forum, a place for storing and sharing documents and other files, photographs and a links page.

Increasingly computer databases are used for cataloguing local history and small museum collections in Victoria. Joining this social networking group provides you with the opportunity to share ideas and discuss issues relating to cataloguing collections and using computers whatever the database program used - DB/TextWorks, Access, Filemaker, Collections Mosaic or any other program.
To join Computers & Cataloguing Yahoo groups click the link below and then click the Join this Group button.

If you do not already belong to to any online services provided by Yahoo you will need to fill in an online form to join - otherwise you use the login and password you use for other Yahoo services.

Online Databases

For the past fifteen years I have been involved in projects involving the publication of online databases. The Whitehorse Manningham Local History Database was the first regional local history database  in Victoria. Since then a number of other databases have been published online including the Victorian Local History Database established for promoting collections held in organisations affiliated with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria. More recently Museums Australia (Victoria) has produced Victorian Collections launched a month or two ago.

At the recent Inmagic Museum Users Group meeting there was much discussion about participation in projects such as Victorian Collections. Below are some of my thoughts regarding involvement in an online database project.

Online database projects are a great way for societies to promote both their collections and their organisation. Including records in a regional online database allows researchers to know about the range of items held by your organisation as well as specific items that may be useful for their research. In some cases the use of an online database may be the first time researchers become aware of the existence of your organisation. Researchers can then contact you for information on viewing or obtaining copies of items, including charges for this service.

Participation in an online cataloguing project encourages standardisation of cataloguing in the use of fields required to adequately catalogue items.

Many online database projects also have a thesaurus which participants in the project are encouraged to use when selecting subjects making it easier for researchers to locate items on a specific topic. One such online thesaurus is the Victorian Local History Thesaurus. Another online thesaurus is the Australian Pictorial Thesaurus.

Online databases should provide a range of options to aid the searching of the database. Through the Internet we are now used to being able to type what we want in a box and after clicking the Search button have immediate access to the material we require. Sometimes this works but often a much more reliable search can be undertaken using the options provided in an Advanced Search screen. It is therefore useful to have more than one way of searching a collection. Even Google has an Advanced Search option.

Currently in Victoria there are two types of online databases.
In the first, organisations catalogue their collections and then export the fields required for inclusion in the online database. Organisations therefore have a full copy of the database records on their premises and can include information for their own use in additional fields if they wish to do so, enabling full control over their catalogue records.
In the second, organisations catalogue information about their items directly into the online database using the set of fields provided.  The organisation therefore does not have its own copy of the records unless it has a reliable link to the Internet at all times. This may restrict access to the records within the organisation.

Cataloguing directly into an online database such as Victorian Collections could be a useful way for organisations having small and often valuable collections but whose main focus is not collecting such as sporting clubs, churches, RSLs and similar organisations in order to provide public access to their collections. However organisations whose main focus is the collection and dissemination of information may find that it is more useful to catalogue their collection in-house and then transfer all or some of their records into an online database (or databases).

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Inmagic Museum Users Group meeting

Puffing Billy at Emerald Lake Station

The first Inmagic Museum User Group meeting for 2012 was hosted by the Puffing Billy Railway Archive. Members boarded the steam train at Belgrave for the hour trip to Emerald Lake Park, plenty of time to chat with other users of DB TextWorks software in the carriage and also enjoy a light lunch.

At the station members of the group discussed a number of issues including concerns about the new cataloguing system Victorian Collections being promoted by Museums Australia (Victoria) and finding a replacement social media site for the Computers and Cataloguing My Connected Community Group (mc2) as Vicnet is closing mc2 at the end of June.  It was decided to set up a Computers and Cataloguing group in Yahoo Groups. Barbara has now left Maxus and at the beginning of the meeting she introduced Pam who will take over Barbara's former role working with smaller organisations using the software. Barbara will continue to attend our meetings.

One of the major aims of these meetings is to allow those using DB/TextWorks software for cataloguing to be able to meet and discuss issues. Many thanks to the members of the Puffing Billy Railway Archive for hosting this meeting and for providing such great hospitality.

It was then time for those who had travelled by Puffing Billy to board the train for the return trip to Belgrave. Last seen they were being served scones. It was a most successful excursion and meeting.

Information Technology and Historical Societies Report

In 2010 the Royal Historical Society of Victoria surveyed affiliated societies to investigate how they were using technology to help manage and promote their collections in Victoria.

Part of the report focussed on cataloguing software used by historical societies, small museums and allied collections.

The report also compared the results from a similar survey conducted in 2003.

A copy of the report is available on the RHSV website:
Information technology and historical societies report (2010) (pdf)

Notes from mc2 - DB TextWorks Guides

A series of guides providing information on using Inmagic DB/TextWorks databases for cataloguing

Backing up databases

Batch modify records

Delete records

Duplicate records

Help files

How to alter database structures

Importing records

Linking images


Report forms

Search screens


Validation lists

Exporting records from Excel to DBTextWorks

Exporting records

Reformatting multiple entries in fields

Notes from mc2 - Links to general cataloguing guidelines

Guidelines and forms that may be useful when cataloguing

Guidelines for computer cataloguing of information items

Photograph information form

Potential donations form

Potential donations form - reverse


Receipt - reverse

Victorian Local History Database

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Notes from mc2 - Links

Links from Computers & Cataloguing mc2
Community Heritage Grants useful links page – Includes links to organisations and papers on a variety of topics including conservation, preservation, grants, microfilming, digitisation and preservation assessments.
Copyright & cultural institutions – guidelines for digitisation projects

Counter code – Script to add a counter

Image digitisation of local history collections – the manual provides a simple introduction to issues to be considered when planning & implementing digitisation projects

Maxus Australia – information about DB TextWorks & other Inmagic software
Small museums cataloguing manual – online version of this useful cataloguing tool
Care of digital collections
Electronic media collections care for small museums & archives – a Canadian website (Canadian Conservation Institute) providing guidelines on storage, reformatting and correct documentation of digital media in collections
Designing and maintaining websites
Australian pictorial thesaurus
Victorian local history thesaurus

Notes from mc2 - introduction

In September 2003 a Computers & Cataloguing My Connected Community Group was formed to provide a forum for those undertaking cataloguing and computer based projects in historical societies and small museums. The mc2 group also provided the opportunity to link to relevant sites on the Internet, publicise events and share documents containing information about cataloguing and other procedures. On the 30th June 2012 Vicnet is closing the My Connected Community site so in the next few weeks relevant information from the mc2 site will be copied to this blog.