UKOLN Collection Description Focus

News Bulletin - August 2001

Pete Johnston & Bridget Robinson -

CD Focus website -

CD Focus discussion list -

Welcome to the August edition of the CDF news bulletin.


A large part of the CD Focus work during July has concentrated on "information gathering" visits to projects currently engaged in collection description work, beginning with a small number of RSLP projects:

CASBAH; visit to lead partner: Institute of Commonwealth Studies (

Mapping Asia; visit to partners at School of Oriental and African Studies Library and Bodleian Library, University of Oxford (

Researchers Guide Online (RGO); visit to British Universities Film & Video Council (

COCOREES; visit to lead partner: Bodleian Library, University of Oxford (

Backstage; visit to partners at Theatre Collection, University of Bristol with lead partner from University of Kent at Canterbury attending.(

The visits have given the team insights into the practicalities of implementation faced by projects, and even within this small sample highlighted both commonalities and differences. Some of these projects (RGO, COCOREES, and Backstage) were able to take as their starting point existing entries in "directories" of holdings in their area (although this coverage may be supplemented by the creation of additional collection descriptions by project partners). For others, like CASBAH, the information gathering process has required some visits to archival repositories to survey their material and to identify previously unlisted collections.

The schemas used for collection description also vary: CASBAH employs ISAD(G) for archival material and the RSLP CD schema for printed and a/v material; COCOREES, Backstage and RGO have all based their implementations on the RSLP CD schema; and Mapping Asia work with a schema based on Encoded Archival Description (EAD).

CASBAH, Mapping Asia and COCOREES all have significant collaborative collection management components to their projects, and the descriptions they prepare will be used both by librarians seeking to co-ordinate collection development, as well as by researchers. CD Focus will continue to gather information through the use of questionnaires, telephone interviews and visits. This information will guide the work of the Focus over the coming months.


As part of the Focus' work to improve interoperability between different approaches to collection description, we have published a draft mapping between the elements of the EAD DTD and the properties of the RSLP CD Schema (

It is worth emphasising again that the RSLP CD schema was not intended to be a replacement for richer archival description schemas, such as ISAD(G) and EAD. Rather, it should be seen as a schema for making relatively simple collection descriptions in a wide variety of contexts - a 'Dublin Core' for collection description. The mapping provides the basis for a transformation tool which can convert an ISAD(G) compliant EAD document to an RDF/XML instance conforming to the RSLP CD schema, but it should be noted that such a tool may require customisation by individual projects to reflect local EAD encoding practice. Similar mappings and transforms might be provided for other XML-based collection description schemas


Plans are now well underway for a Briefing Day for Senior Information Managers/Librarians/Policy Makers to be held at the British Library on 22nd October. Details will be made available shortly.

The first of the regional workshops will be held in Manchester in late October/early November.This will be aimed at practitioners, technical and project staff. The workshop will be run in conjunction with the Archives Hub and will focus on sectoral requirements, issues relating to granularity and the use of metadata extensions. A full programme will be available soon.

Development of Software Tools

A Microsoft Access relational database implementation of the RSLP CLD schema has been developed for UKOLN by Samsara Research and is available for download at This includes a rudimentary search interface provided using Microsoft Active Server Pages, which generates both HTML and RDF/XML views of the descriptions in the database. The HTML rendition is generated by an XSLT style-sheet that can be customised to meet local presentation requirements.

Briefing Papers

The first CD Focus Briefing Paper will be available in September. This will be an introduction to Collection Description work

September news bulletin

All contributions for the next bulletin should be sent to by Friday 7th September