Video - Classification and naming of objects in museum collections

Transcript of the video "Classification and naming of objects in museum collections"

Length of the video: 00:05:01

This video will provide a basic introduction to classification and naming of objects in museum collections.

It is the second video in the Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging series.

We will explore questions such as: What is a classification system?

What are controlled vocabularies?

Why and how should my museum use a classification system and controlled vocabulary?

A classification system is a system for grouping concepts into categories, usually in a hierarchy to facilitate organization and retrieval.

Concepts included in a category share common characteristics such as function, social context or form.

Categories are generally mutually exclusive.

Using a classification system can facilitate access to and use of your museum's collections.

It can be used to organize and group objects to compare or contrast objects of the same or different types to find all similar objects to establish links between objects to provide an overview of the collections and maximize understanding, and to identify strengths and gaps in the collection.

Controled vocabularies are compilations of terms or phrases called terminology, that are structured to show relationships between terms and concepts.

They can be hierarchies or simple lists.

They can be unilingual or multilingual.

They can be used by a museum to control or standardize the data values that are used in their collections documentation.

Most controlled vocabularies have a single preferred label for each concept in each language.

Museums should use controlled vocabularies to standardize data in key fields.

Consistent, precise cataloging means more efficiency for data retrieval and use.

Controlled vocabularies can manage synonyms, which are different words for the same concepts, such as spelling variants, regional terms or historical terms.

They can disambiguate homographs, which are different words with the same spelling but different meaning and they can serve as a bridge between searchers and cataloguers using different languages.

Ultimately, controlled vocabularies facilitate access to your collections by ensuring the adoption of a common language for cataloguers and searchers.

Controlled vocabularies can act as a bridge to enable common understanding and easy access to information.

Take the example of this object.

One museum may call it a bed jacket.

Another may call it a boudoir jacket.

Yet another may use another language to describe the object.

By using a controlled vocabulary, they have a shared understanding that they are all referring to the same concept.

Regardless of the term used by the individual museum when cataloguing, or the term used by someone searching for the object, they will find it thanks to controlled vocabulary.

In this way, the use of a controlled vocabulary can facilitate data sharing and use regardless of regional variation, terminology preference or linguistic differences in terminology.

Most museums in Canada that are using controlled vocabularies to catalog humanities collections, use Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging.

It focuses on historical and ethnological objects relevant to North American history and culture.

Terms are arranged within the classification system in a simple hierarchical structure.

It is bilingual, English and French, illustrated, and contains more than 15,000 concepts.

Nomenclature is a classification system and controlled vocabulary for object naming.

Other controlled vocabularies should be used for other fields.

See the links in the description below for more information.

To use a classification system and controlled vocabulary, record your choice of controlled vocabularies in your museum's documentation policy.

Train staff and volunteers to use the vocabulary and classification tools.

Use the controlled vocabulary to identify and fix incomplete, inaccurate, or nonstandard data that already exists within your system.

Whether you use collections management software or not, use the vocabulary and classification system to control new data entry.

And if you need to add terminology to the vocabulary, do it in a careful and controlled way and share your additions with the organization that maintains the vocabulary.

We hope our video on classification and naming of objects in museum collections has been helpful.

Please visit our other videos in the Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging series.

Canadian Heritage Information Network - Réseau canadien d'information sur le patrimoine


The second video in the “Nomenclature for Museum Cataloguing” series, it provides basic introduction to “Classification and naming of objects in museum collections”.

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