Creating a record
There are slightly different procedures for creating different types of records, but as typical projects involve working primarily with Objects, we can look to that type as an example. Click or mouse-over the NEW tab in the Global Navigation Bar, select the appropriate table in the dropdown menu, and then choose a sub-type, if any. The system is designed to allow you to achieve a certain amount of specificity right from the start as you craft your record. Once you have made your selection, the record editor will default on the Basic Info page, and additional screens will appear in the local navigation bar.
Fig. 3 Basic Info Page (Object Record)
The Basic Info page contains the foundation for a new record. Enter all known information and click save. A record can be saved with blank fields, so long as no required metadata elements are left empty (in which case you’ll receive a warning). Be sure to include at least a Title and an Object Identifier. Please refer to the content standard when creating Titles. The Object Identifier is a unique ID that in almost every case is identical to the file name, and is generated before upload into the database. See the content standard for examples. Non-required fields can be left blank and updated later if necessary. Note that a record must be saved first to activate the Local Navigation bar, giving you access to the additional screens.
As you create records, you may notice that Objects and Entities allow for "alternate names" (often colloquialisms which describe an object). This makes it easier to find the objects for which you are searching, especially on the public website. There are two different types of alternate names which can be entered into the system, “alternate” and “use for,” which can be chosen using the “type” drop-down menu. Alternate names are alternative, but still acceptable labels and names for an object. “Use for” names, on the other hand, are incorrect labels that are frequently attached to an item, such as misspellings. Entering alternate spellings in the “use for” field allows the proper records to appear in searches and prevent redundant records from being created. The content standard also describes how to formulate Alternate Names, and you should refer to this (rather than guessing) when filling out this field.
The Inspector Window
After a record has been saved for the first time, the Inspector Window will appear in the top left corner of the record. The Inspector Window contains several elements that will help you keep track of your work.
Fig. 4 The Inspector Window
- Results Control: These controls allow you to navigate through your search results after conducting a “Search” or “Browse.” Use the arrows to view your search results one by one. Clicking “Results” will take you back to your full list of search results.
- Identifying Information: Displays the object type, name, and accession number.
- Watch List Icon: Clicking this icon adds the selected object to your watch list, which can be accessed by selecting “Manage > My watched items” from the Global Navigation Bar. The icon turns black when active.
- Type Change Icon: Located directly above the Watch List Icon, clicking on this symbol gives you the option to change your record from one type of object to another. Be forewarned: this can affect other records as well.
- Less/More Info Button: Collapses or expands the Inspector window.
- Media Thumbnail: Shows a thumbnail image of attached media. When there are multiple items attached to a record, arrow keys will appear. When clicked, the Media Viewer will launch, allowing you to pan and zoom across the image or file as well as download it in a range of sizes. It can also play audio, video media, and display documents. The Media Viewer will be discussed more thoroughly later on in this document.
Populating data elements
Once you have populated the basic info page and you have the basis for your record, you can move on to the additional screens to complete the record. In order to feel comfortable using these screens, you will want to be familiar with the common types of data elements used in CollectiveAccess, described below.
- Text: The majority of data elements are text fields, which represent a free-text value (there is no rigid format for entering information in these fields). Common text fields could be Title, Description, and Provenance. This element accepts any type of text.
- DateRange: This element represents a specific date or date range. CollectiveAccess is relatively flexible in terms of the values it will accept for this element; the same date could be represented as 6/7/2007, 6-7-2007, 6.7.2007, 7-JUN-2007, or 7-JUN-07. Visit the CollectiveAccess wiki for a list of acceptable formats.
- List: Lists can be rendered in many ways, and are available to make cataloging faster and more efficient. For BAM’s database, the most common types are drop-down menus and checkboxes. In a drop-down list or checkbox, simply select the relevant item(s) from the list.
- Dimensions and Weight: These elements accept dimension and weight measurements in metric and English units. Entries are simply a numeric quantity + a unit specifier. Supported units specifiers are described on the measurement input formats page on the CollectiveAccess wiki.
- Currency: Currency elements accept a currency value composed of a specifier and a decimal number. The current specifier should be a standard three-letter currency code.
- Media: Uploaded media (image, sound, video). CollectiveAccess will try to identify the file, extract metadata and create derivatives.
- LCSH (Library of Congress Subject Headings): This is a lookup field in which you can enter the first few letters of a Library of Congress Subject and the database will return a list of possible matches. There is a “Subjects” screen under “Objects” in which you can add multiple Library of Congress Subject Headings.