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.