Here, two catalogers from La MaMa Archives present some observations about creating object records in our Collective Access instance.  This is not meant to be an exhaustive treatment of cataloging in CA, just some notes drawn from two catalogers’ experiences.


Changing Record Types

The FAQ section of the official Collective Access documentation wiki contains an unanswered question under Managing MetadataCan I change a record’s type after it is saved or duplicated?

This option is available on all types of records–object, entity, production, and work–by clicking the “⌘” symbol in the Inspector Window in older versions of Collective Access or the Type Change icon next to the eye icon in newer versions. Beware, however, that some transitions work better than others; you may lose data fields or relationships in the process, so be sure to check and test a few times before consistently using this tool.


There are a few different ways of defining the extent field.  Dublin Core defines it as “the size or duration of the resource”. For us, this often translates to “quantity”–we frequently use the extent field to describe the total number of objects in a folder. (For example, at La MaMa, the number of copies of the same object, such as a theater program, would be entered in the extent field.) In addition, because CA permits multiple entries in the extent field, we can record several types of extent in one record. For instance, when cataloging photographs, we like to record both the total number of prints contained in a folder and the total number of images (as in the image below). This way, we can know at a glance if there are multiples in any given photograph container. Screen shot 2015-06-16 at 2.06.57 PM


The measurement field allows for flexible levels of description, both in amount of detail and terminology. The configuration we use at La MaM features a drop-down list of common paper sizes that we can choose to use or not. In addition, our catalog features two free text fields to describe measurement, “Alt measurement” and “Alt measurement type,” which provides opportunities for expanded measurement description. We have implemented some in-house vocabularies for these free text fields. For instance, for a newspaper clipping, we enter the length of the article as “column inches”, writing the numeric quantity as the “alt measurement”  and “column inches” as the “type.”

Screen shot 2015-06-16 at 2.21.43 PM

Here again, CA permits multiple entries. Thus, you can record distinct types of measurements to describe the same object; for instance, with a booklet program, we create two measurement fields: the first with the unfolded dimensions with “folded in half and nested” as the “alt measurement” and “presentation” as the “type”, and then a second measurement of the folded dimensions with a number of booklet pages in the “Alt measurement” field and “booklet pages inclusive of covers” in the “type” field.Screen shot 2015-06-16 at 2.26.07 PM


Close Quick Add Without Losing Data

When using Quick Add to create a relationship while editing a record, if you would like to cancel the Quick Add without losing the information on the base record, simply hit the ESC key. If you cancel by refreshing the screen, you will lose your data from both the Quick Add and the base record.