Limited Corporation for Information Management and Documentation

Data collection from sensitive materials

Project examples


Our commission involved data collection from 422 CDs and 956 partially large-format music prints in different languages and scripts, among them Hebrew and Cyrillic. Collected data was entered on-line into the catalog of the Southwest German Library Network (SWB) according to RDA guidelines and linked to existing data records.

Project duration: 13 months

Autopsy – this is the term in Documentation for collecting data from original materials as in this project. As stipulated in the specifications, relevant information, e.g. persons and entities (choirs, orchestras), unambiguous work title, media type, year of publication, or language, was to be entered directly into the catalog of the Southwest German Library Network and had to be linked to existing data records there. This was done according to the new RDA guidelines (Resource Description and Access). Transportation of the valuable works from the client to GIMD was organized together with a shipping company with experience in the library sector. During the processing period, all works were stored in a separate room at a constant temperature, in order to avoid any risk of damage.

As frequently happens with our projects, this turned out to involve more than mere data collecting, but also the establishment of relations (e.g. composer/artist), the identification of hierarchies, the allocation of unambiguous work titles, but most importantly, correct dating. For, as opposed to books, dates are often missing on sheet music, which frequently poses a problem in professional circles. Clues can be found, e.g., in the so-called printing plate number, the outer print image of a work with the type used, bookplates, information on pricing or publisher address, and even watermarks in the paper. A GIMD in-house guide on dating procedures provided orientation to our staff, as well as the so-called music publisher wiki developed by Leipzig University of Applied Sciences (HWTK).

Another special feature of this commission were foreign-language documents, some of them in Hebrew or Cyrillic script. For such documents, both the original script and the transcription must be deposited in the SWB database. A screen keyboard in the respective script supported the transliteration into Latin. The excellent teamwork of our linguists, musicologists, and historians, as well as the support from ARTIS, facilitated a comprehensive edit.

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