Interim Associate University Librarian and Director, IKBLC

Sandra Wilkins

Background

Sandra joined the Learning Centre in this temporary role in September 2016. She is seconded from her permanent position as Head of the UBC Law Library, where she has worked since 1998.  She began her career in law librarianship at the University of Alberta.  While at UBC, she has had experience working with various branches and library administration. She was a member of the Allard Hall School of Law building steering committee with responsibility for all aspects of planning and design, equipment and furnishings, and transition to the new space for the library.

Current Role and Responsibilities

Overall responsibility for IKBLC (including the Chapman Learning Commons, Program Services) and the following library units: Music, Art & Architecture Library, David Lam Library, Education Library, Law Library, and Central Technical Services.

Contact

Email: sandra.wilkins@ubc.ca

Phone: (604) 822-3096

Unlike the majority of the content on the Digitizers’ blog, this post does not involve pretty pictures or interesting nuggets of historical information.  Instead, it will cover a very different aspect of the work performed in the Digital Initiatives unit: Metadata.  To be more specific, descriptive metadata; less glamorous perhaps than the maps and images we typically share in this forum, but without a significant amount of behind-the-scenes metadata work, searching for a particular image in our digital collections would be akin to looking for a needle in an enormous pile of very-similar needles.  While the following procedures will  probably be most interesting to our colleagues in libraries, archives, and other information science disciplines who deal with these kinds of issues on a daily basis, we hope also to shed some light for the average user on both how and why we spend a significant amount of our time developing and implementing useful metadata for our collections.

BC Bibliography Metadata Overview

The BC Bibliography collection is inspired by (and based closely on) a three volume printed bibliography of the same name.  In a sense, these volumes contain only metadata.  That is, the title, author, and descriptive data included in the printed bibliography serves as a guide for locating the texts and documents that it refers to.  

The original print bibliographies.

In much the same way, the metadata we create provides a means for users to locate the digital documents in our collections.  The metadata schema for the BC Bibliography digital collection is designed specifically to supplement full text searches with results for related terms and to provide a faceted browsing experience in which users can select terms from several categorical lists to narrow down their results.

Preparing the metadata from the printed bibliography for use in an online environment is typically accomplished with what is known in information-professional circles as a “crosswalk,” which matches metadata fields from one  ”standard” schema to another.  While the name calls to mind a nice clear path, in the real world things are almost never that simple.  Fields from one schema seldom all match up 1:1 with the fields in the desired schema meaning that somehow data will either need to be split from a single field into multiple fields or visa versa. In practice this is akin to fitting a square peg in a round hole.

The final metadata for the BC Bibliography digital collection involved crosswalking three (or more) separate metadata sources into one.  Because we wanted to provide the most complete metadata possible we decided to include not only the data from the original print bibliographies (which are missing subject data crucial to the desired faceted browsing experience), but also data from the contributing institution’s library catalogue record and the most complete record available through WorldCat (an industry-standard catalogue record aggregator).  As one might imagine, this presented a host of issues including both the basic logistics of how to collect and combine all this data, and how to handle the numerous duplicates and inconsistencies inherent to mashing together so many disparate sets of data.  Furthermore, the Library of Congress subject headings we were able to collect through this method proved unsuitable for the type of faceted browsing planned for the BC Bibliography collection, and needed to be split into constituent phrases (rather than the familiar dash – separated – format).  Ultimately we were able to combine these records, split and reformat the subject fields, normalize the data, and remove all duplicates to end up with a properly formatted tab-seperated text file for batch uploading into our CONTENTdm based collection. If you’d like to know more about how it was all done, read on…

The following images, part of UBC Library Archive’s Haweis Family fonds (PDF link), are from of a series of images taken by Rosetti Photographic Studios in Vancouver’s Stanley Park in 1912.  

Lionel Haweis emigrated to Canada from England in 1907, where he opened Rosetti Photographic Studios on Pender St., and later on Robson St. In 1918 he was appointed to the staff of UBC Library, retiring in 1939. He was well-known in the literary life in Vancouver as founder of the UBC Arts and Letters Club, and a member of various literary clubs, the Little Theatre, and the Vancouver Overseas Club. In addition to his earlier writings he also authored an Indian ballad (Tsoqualem) and a play (The Rose of Persia). He died in 1942.

The Stanley Park images are currently available in the Rosetti Studios – Stanley Park digital collection and Digital Initiatives is in the process of rescanning the original glass plate negatives, and will soon be updating the collection with beautifully high resolution images that better preserve the incredible detail captured in the original negatives.  Interestingly, while re-scanning we noticed that the handwritten captions were actually written backwards directly onto the negatives (which we have scanned and digitally inverted to produce the images below).

While the first image looks like it could have been taken yesterday, the conspicuous absence of the Lion’s Gate Bridge (not to mention all of North and West Vancouver) in the second image, and the classy old McLaughlin(?) in the third really give them away.

No. 22 ‘Morning Sheen and a Silvery Mist’ Stanley Park, Vancouver B.C.

 

No. M 15 ‘Tide Rip’ First Narrows from Stanley Park, Vancouver, B.C.

 

No. 59 ‘Second Beach’ Vancouver, B.C.

Perhaps we’ve just been overexposed to Canadian Pacific’s historic promotional material, but enjoying a fine meal while glorious views of Stoney Creek and the Selkirks rush by to the clickity-clack of the railroad ties sure sounds enticing.  This section of mountainous track and bridges between Field and Revelstoke was an engineering marvel of its day, and the chance to see the historic route in all its glory makes us wish our time machine was up and running.

Both images are part of UBC Rare Books and Special Collections’ Chung Collection and will be included in the upcoming Canadian Pacific digital collection.

Kaisei chiri shoho ansha no zu: Another gorgeous woodcut from the Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era digital collection (almost all of which could probably be featured here..)

We were particularly struck by the almost abstract beauty in this piece’s mix of cartographic and illustrated blocks.  Its intended function remains elusive, although the title suggests an instructional purpose. Let us know if you can shed any light on the matter!

Don’t forget, you can also come by UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collections to view this collection up close and personal!

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