News Bulletin

August 2004


Bridget Robinson & Ann Chapman -

CD Focus website -

CD Focus discussion list -

Welcome to the CD Focus News Bulletin. This issue contains news on the future of the CD Focus, the Dublin Core Collection Description Application Profile, the RSLP Collection Description Schema and the Tap into Bath project.

CD Focus was launched on 1st June 2001 with the aim of improving co-ordination on collection-level descriptions, methods, schemas and tools and ensuring consistency and compatibility of approaches across projects, disciplines, institutions and sectors. The Focus provides support for UK projects actively involved in collection description work and for those investigating or planning such work.

Initial funding for the Focus came from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA, previously Resource), the Joint Information Systems Committee of the Higher and Further Education Funding Councils (JISC) and the Research Support Libraries Programme (RSLP). Funding for the past year has come from MLA, JISC and the British Library. This funding ended on 31st July 2004.

Although the CD Focus will no longer be a separately funded activity, the work of the Focus will continue as part of UKOLN's work programme. Bridget Robinson is moving on to work on the Digital Curation Centre ( but Ann Chapman will continue to work as CD Focus.

This newsletter will continue to be issued as part of the work programme for the next year (to July 2005), and contributions will continue to be welcomed. There are plans to continue adding to the CD Focus Online Tutorial, while 3 papers have been commissioned in the Case Study series, and a state of the art review of collection description activity world-wide is planned. CD Focus will continue to contribute to standards work related to collection descriptions (including the possible revision of the RSLP Schema - see below for more details) and to maintain the email list. The Tap into Bath collaborative project will be launched in autumn 2004; there is already some interest in re-using the database and software by other organizations.


The current issue of Ariadne - Issue 40 includes the following papers on collection description.

Collection-level description: thinking globally before acting locally. Ann Chapman and Bridget Robinson write on the work of the Collection Description Focus and the links between Tap into Bath, Cornucopia and the Information Environment Service Registry.

Tap into Bath: Alison Baud and Ann Chapman describe the development of a database of archive, library and museum collections in Bath.

Cornucopia. Chris Turner describes the latest phase of Cornucopia development and the opportunities this is opening up for the future.

The Information Environment Services Registry: promoting the use of electronic resources. Amanda Hill outlines progress on the project and explains what it will mean for service providers and portal developers.

Dublin Core Collection Description Application Profile (DC CD AP)

Proposals for parts of the draft application profile were considered at the Dublin Core Usage Board meeting in March 2004. While the proposal for a dcterms:provenance property was accepted, that for a dcterms:isAvailableAt property was rejected. Since then there has been discussion on the email list about a number of the properties and their values and definitions; from this discussion a number of terms have been identified that describe attributes of a collection but for which there are no existing properties in the DCMI metadata vocabularies. It is planned to present some proposals for additional terms for the DCMI “DC Terms” vocabulary to the next Usage Board meeting in autumn 2004.

RSLP Collection Description Schema

At the Collection Description Schema Forum day in February 2004, there was discussion of the future of the RSLP Collection Description Schema. Although used by a number of implementations, many of them had modified it in some way, including the addition of several attributes, some of which are being included in the DC CD AP. In addition the JISC Information Environment Service Registry has extended the Schema to support the description of services. Services are either ‘informational services’ that provide access to a collection, or ‘transactional services’ that provide functions which are not, or not directly, related to access to collections.

It would not be best practice to have multiple collection description schemas but there is a need for at least two, the DC CD AP and a revised RSLP Schema. The DC CD AP was developed from a sub-set of the RSLP Schema attributes; only those describing the collection are included, and those for Agents and Location are excluded. There is a DC Working Group looking at Agent description, but they have not yet produced a proposal for a set of attributes/properties. Since the DC CD AP excludes certain attributes, a collection description schema that includes them is also necessary.

It is clear that the existing RSLP Schema needs revision, which is partly dependent on other factors. The steps to be taken are:

A revised Schema could then be submitted to NISO as a proposed standard; if approved as a standard, a maintenance agency would be appointed.


Tap into Bath

During 2003, an opportunity arose for Collection Description Focus to help develop a collection description database. Public and academic libraries in Bath had been developing joint activities, and one proposal was to develop a web page listing all the libraries in the area. CD Focus was consulted and advised that using collection description in a database would provide a better solution than simply using web pages.

By December 2003 it had been decided to create a collection description database for all collections - archives, libraries and museums - in Bath. CD Focus agreed to assist the project by giving guidance on designing a relational database using the RSLP collection description schema and overseeing the data collection and entry. The University of Bath Library agreed to host the database on its server and take responsibility for its maintenance long term, and a member of library staff set up the relational database. A small amount of funding from existing budgets was set aside to pay for data collection work and development of the web interfaces.

The initial version of the database was completed in July 2004. However, when data entry started being entered, a few problems were identified. These are currently being rectified.

Data collection has been a phased process. Firstly data was collected from publicly available information on the Internet. This was edited into collection description records in Word document format. These were sent to collections who were asked to revise the entry; collections were contacted by phone and in some cases visited to check to discuss their entry. This version was then edited for consistency and Library of Congress Subject Headings added to match the subject indexing terms proposed by collections themselves. The data was then entered into the database.

Data has been received by most of the collections; of the five collections who still have to return data, one is uncertain of its future, one is in the process of appointing an archivist (no other staff) and the others have been held up due to single person staffing and holidays.

A meeting was held on 10th August 2004 and attended by representatives from participating collections. A presentation described the aims and objectives of Tap into Bath, identified the principles underlying its design and creation, and details about the database, data collection and the resulting records. This was followed by a demonstration of the database, and a question and answer session.

Tap into Bath is already generating some interest and a number of people outside the project were also invited to the meeting. Tap into Bath project staff will also be meeting with Norwegian librarians attending the ECDL conference at the University of Bath in September 2004 to discuss the project.

It is hoped to launch the Tap into Bath database in the autumn of 2004.

Content by: Ann Chapman of UKOLN.
Page last revised on: 20-Aug-2004
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