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Creating individual collections


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CLDs in practice

CLDs in practice: Introduction

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Creating individual CLDs

A collection level description uses a structured format to hold a variety of details about a collection. Data held in a collection level description can be divided into several areas. Diagrammatic view

1. Descriptive elements

These elements hold the basic description of the collection. These comprise the formal title of the collection, a freeform description, an indication of collection strength, and specific details of the collection parameters - it may relate to a geographic area, or materials produced in a specific time period. The description can vary in length from a single sentence to several paragraphs. In addition, further descriptive data is held in elements which are used as access points.

2. Support for searching

Some elements in collection level descriptions provide access points for indexed searching. In addition to headings or keywords, other possible access points are names, places and times associated with the collection, language, physical characteristics, target audience and educational level of materials.

3. Related resources

These elements contain data about relationships. The collection may be part of a larger collection, or itself comprise a number of smaller collections. A catalogue is a collection (of catalogue records) describing another collection (a library). There may also be relationships between a collection and published material.

4.Access to the collection

A range of information is needed about access to the collection. Are there any restrictions as to who can use the collection - accredited researchers, members of an institution, people registered as blind or partially sighted, people with permission from the owners of the collection? Are charges made for using the collection? When can the collection be visited and must visits be pre-arranged? Is the collection only accessible during certain time periods - for example, a special school collection may not be available during school holidays. Who do you contact about using the collection and what are their contact details?

5. Collection management

Some data under this heading is of interest to the user as descriptive data but collection owners may also require data for management purposes. These elements record who originally collected the materials, whether the collection is still being added to, and the method and extent of additions. Collection managers may also need to record restrictions on the use of collections - in some cases, users may be able to consult items but not photocopy them.

Related people and organisations

There are several ways in which people and organisations may be associated with a collection. One individual or organisation may be related to the collection in several ways.

  • Owner. A person or organisation may own the collection now, or may have owned it in the past. Detail of past ownership is especially useful where a collection has been split into two or more collections, and/or has been merged with another collection. For example:
    • The finds of a specific archaeological dig Ė which are a collection in their own right Ė are often split between several organisations for long-term storage and display.
    • Personal libraries donated or acquired by an organisationís library may be dispersed among the stock or be kept as a sub-collection.
  • Administrator. The person who runs the collection on a day-to-day basis. Depending on the collection and the host organisation, this may be recorded with the details of an individual (e.g. John Smith) or the details of specific post within the organisation (e.g. Local History Librarian).
  • Collector. A person or organisation that is responsible for adding extra items to a collection. It is especially useful to note the collector where a personal collection has been donated to or acquired by an organisation. For example, the Fashion Museum at Bath has a collection of dresses that were owned by Ottoline Morrell; she is both a past owner and the original collector of these items.
  • Subject. A person or persons or an organisation may be the focus of a collection. Examples are the Jane Austenís House Museum in Chawton and the Arthur Ransome Society web site (


For a physical location, record the name of the location, its postal address, post/zip code and country, and the URL for the organisation (e.g. the institutionís home page). For a digital collection, record the URL for the collection.


See some examples of collection level descriptions and schemas


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Content by: Shirley Keane of UKOLN.
Page last revised on: 22-Jul-2008
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