January 24, 2008

10:30 a.m. - 12 noon

Peabody Museum Auditorium


Forum on the Natural Collections Description Project

Carol Butler (Smithsonian Institution), Neil Thomson (the Natural History Museum,London) and Roger Hyam (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh)

Collection descriptions are electronic records that document the holdings of an organization as groups of items and complement the more traditional item-level records such as are produced for a single specimen or a library book. The NCD Interest Group has developed a data standard, called Natural Collections Description (NCD) for describing entire collections of natural history materials; one NCD record describes one entire collection, including information about the collection, access and usage of the collection and where to get more detailed information. NCD brings together work on collections descriptions being carried out for the European Union Framework VI program SYNTHESYS with the work performed by RAVNS under the auspices of RLG Programs.

A brief descriptive record as defined by the NCD standard can act as the "business card" for a collection, providing enough information to identify and locate it. The standard enables the aggregation of collections descriptions from many sources and facilitates resource discovery. Another discovery use is that relationships among collections in several locations can be established using NCD records.

NCD is a lightweight resource description standard specific to natural history collections, such as specimens, original artwork, archives, observations, library materials, datasets, photographs or mixed collections such as those that result from expeditions and voyages of discovery. NCD primarily holds information about collections of objects, but can also be used to describe organizations (collections of collections) and networks (collections of organizations). NCD is between general resource discovery standards such as Dublin Core (DC) and rich collection description standards such as the Encoded Archival Description (EAD). It will be possible to extract a Dublin Core record from an NCD record for use with general resource discovery systems. It is also possible to use an NCD record as the seed for a richer collection description, like EAD.




Questions? Contact Tim White