UKOLN Collection Description Focus

News Bulletin - November/December 2002

Bridget Robinson -

CD Focus website -

CD Focus discussion list -

Welcome to the last news bulletin of 2002.We are sad to announce that Pete Johnston will be leaving the CD Focus Team at the end of December. He has made a valuable contribution to the work of the Focus, providing support to individual projects, and contributing to the wider debate about collection-level description through workshops, presentations and publications. Pete will continue to work within UKOLN, retaining links with the Focus. The Focus will draw on his knowledge and expertise when appropriate.

From 1st January 2003 Ann Chapman will join the CD Focus Team. Ann joined UKOLN in October 1989 as Research Officer for Bibliographic Management. Work in this area focuses on the quality, standards and formats of records for bibliographic materials, in both current and retrospective cataloguing and on performance measurement of bibliographic databases. In 1998-1999 she was a member of the team who produced the national strategy for retrospective conversion 'Full Disclosure', which identified the need for collection-level descriptions. Since 1999 she has been a member of the team working on the Reveal project to improve library and information services to visually impaired people. For this project she has recently been working on the development of the Reveal Collections Register which is based on the RSLP collection description schema. Ann has significant experience of collections and related bibliographic management issues and is therefore eminently suited to the work of the CD Focus.


The fourth regional workshop "Collection-Level Description and Collection Management - Tool for the trade or information trade-off?" was held on Friday 8th November at the University of Newcastle, Castle Leazes Halls of Residence. The workshop was well attended, with a large regional contingent, as well as a few familiar faces from previous events. Feedback from the evaluation forms was very positive but as always not enough time for discussion! The day started with an overview of the work of the Focus. This was followed by presentations from a wide range of projects including an introduction to the collection mapping work of the recently formed Regional Authority NEMLAC - (North East Museums Libraries and Archives Council) , a description of Cecilia - the music mapping project covering collections in the UK and Ireland and presentations from Find it in London (FiiL) and Crossroads - two cross domain collection-level description projects. After lunch Richard Higgins - from Durham University Archives and Special Collections treated us to an interesting and amusing look at "What do I do with my Collection of Collection Descriptions?" This led us neatly into the afternoon breakout sessions.

There were a number of points to emerge from the three discussion groups:

1. Dissemination/Advocacy - more needs to be done both internally in institutions and externally, to educate, inform and promote CLD. Encourage projects to share their experiences.

2. Accessibility and sustainability - many projects have limited life spans and should be looking at exit strategies, in particular, making more than one entry point to the CLDs created

3. Need for coordinated strategic national and regional approach

4. Encourage collaboration - add list of project websites and brief information about their implementation of CLD to CD Focus website This may help to get the smaller organisations on board - persuading them of the value of CLDs for promotion of their collection, managing the collection and finding partner organisations for funding bids and perhaps long-term associations.

5. Important distinction between CLD for collection management and CLD for resource discovery

6. Training requirements

The presentations and breakout group discussion notes are all available at:

The fifth regional workshop will be held on 30th January 2003 at Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge. The workshop will concentrate on user requirements with specific reference to user studies and evaluation. We hope to incorporate feedback from a range of different groups. Programme details and a booking form are available at:

A CD Focus Showcase Event will be held on Tuesday 25th March 2003 at the British Library. The format is still under discussion, but the theme will be based on the concept of bringing together distributed content and the role that CLD plays in facilitating that process. The day will feature presentations, as well as the opportunity of seeing demonstrator services in the adjoining side-rooms. We hope to be able to feature the forthcoming portal for the NOF-digitise programme as well as other collection description projects.


Pete Johnston and David Dawson have published a paper in Culture et Recherche - "Collections et services: construire un environnement informationnel pour l'Europe" (Collections and services: building an Information Environment for Europe)

Pete Johnston and David Dawson (Re:source)
Culture et Recherche No 93 (Nov/Dec 2002)

Pete gave a joint presentation with Rachel Perkins (Natural History Museum): "Collections Revealed: The Role and Practical Application of Collection Description" at the CIMI Forum Meeting: 31st October, The National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh. The presentations are available on the CIMI website at

Collection Description Forum

At the first Briefing Day delegates identified several key issues that were seen as being of major significance for the implementation of collection-level description. Subsequent discussions in the course of the Focus' work and particularly in the course of the workshops have helped to further identify and clarify a range of issues as common problems shared by many projects and services. These include:

1. Reuse of collection-level descriptions: granularity and other factors

2. Maintaining standards for collection-level descriptions : implications for sustainability

3. Content standards for collection-level descriptions e.g. terminology and collection strength

4. Administrative metadata for collection-level descriptions

The Focus has proposed that work on these issues should be addressed through an "open forum" -

The aim of the forum is to:

* allow participants to share information and experience on these issues

* develop some form of consensus on means of addressing the issues

* capture this consensus in the form of good practice guidelines

As a starting point the Focus has drafted 2 Guidance Papers:

Creating reusable collection-level descriptions
Collection Description Focus Guidance Paper, No 1. November 2002.

Maintaining collection-level descriptions
Collection Description Focus Guidance Paper, No 2. November 2002.

The purpose is to stimulate debate on these issues, so that the papers can then be refined and developed on the basis of implementer experience to create practical, "best practice" guidelines. Other papers will be added in due course. A face to face meeting will be scheduled for next year, once the virtual forum has started to take shape. We look forward to your contributions to the forum.

January/February News Bulletin

Contributions for the next news bulletin should be sent to by 24th January 2003. The bulletin will be published in early February to include a report on the fifth CD Focus Workshop.