Video – Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging – Introduction

Transcript of the video “Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging – Introduction”

Length of video: 00:05:30

Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging, or Nomenclature, is a bilingual English/French vocabulary and classification system. It has been used by museums and heritage organizations since 1978 to catalogue, document and provide access to their human history collections. Standardized naming and classification of objects is critical for the proper documentation of, and access to, museum collections—and Nomenclature is a key resource.

The Canadian Heritage Information Network, the American Association for State and Local History and Parks Canada work together to develop and update Nomenclature, with input from the museum community.

Nomenclature is searchable online and is available under an open license in a variety of downloadable file formats, including linked data formats, for use within museum collections management software.

Nomenclature contains approximately 15,000 object names, organized within a simple, easy to use, hierarchical classification system that groups like objects primarily by their functional context.

Let’s take a quick tour of the Nomenclature website.

This is the SEARCH page.

Users can search Nomenclature to find the best term to describe the objects they are cataloguing. Both international and Canadian terminology variants are included.  

After you enter a search, your results appear at the bottom of the screen. Many concepts within the search results include line drawings to help with object identification.

The “broader concept” is included to help you understand the context of the term. If you select the record for a single concept, such as “Cabinet,” you get the full record for “Cabinet” showing the definition of the concept, as well as terms in other languages.

On the left you can see the hierarchy showing that “Cabinet” is a type of “Storage and Display Furniture.” 

You can also use this hierarchy display to navigate to a broader concept (for example, see all types of “Furniture”) or to a narrower concept.  

For example, if we select the narrower concept, “Curio Cabinet,” we see the full record for the “Curio Cabinet” concept.

Non-preferred terms (which may help find this concept in a search) also appear within the record. 

Notes on term usage and cross-referencing suggestions are also shown.  The “other references to this concept” tab will allow you to easily find information on this concept as found in other controlled vocabularies. Nomenclature has been completely cross-referenced with the Art & Architecture Thesaurus, and links to other English and French vocabulary standards and resources are continuously being added.

If you don’t know the name of the object you are trying to catalogue, you can also browse the hierarchy to see where the object might fit within the classification system. 

From the top of the hierarchy, users can click on any of the ten categories and browse through the hierarchy. Or click “Expand All” to see all the categories, classes and sub-classes in order to get an overview of the Nomenclature classification structure.

Clicking on any of these concepts will show details on the concept and allow you to explore deeper levels of the hierarchy.

For example, choosing “Structures” will take you to the details for that concept. From every page of the Nomenclature website, the top menu bar provides access to the full bibliography containing approximately 2,500 references for Nomenclature concepts (many with links to full text), organized according to the Nomenclature classification system.

The top menu also provides access to an Updates section including a list of additions and changes.

Users can also access a comprehensive User Guide containing information on how to use the Nomenclature standard. It’s a good primer for new users on Nomenclature’s purpose, structure and conventions, and even experienced users will benefit from information on tricky cataloguing cases and cross-indexing.

The Integration page offers download options, as spreadsheets or in various linked data formats such as Turtle and JSON-LD, based on the Simple Knowledge Organization System (or SKOS). These files are updated daily. 

Nomenclature’s Application Programming Interface (or API) and SPARQL endpoint will enable easy integration with museum collections management software. 

Although Nomenclature does not cover all the terminology that all museums might need, its flexible framework can be supplemented with required terms. If there is a term your museum needs that you can’t find in Nomenclature, you can submit it for inclusion using the forms linked at the footer of every page of the website. We invite you to contact us with any questions or comments. Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging is here to help.

This video provides an introduction to Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging, a bilingual (English and French) standard for classifying and naming objects in heritage collections. The Nomenclature vocabulary and classification system was developed and is maintained by the Canadian Heritage Information Network, Parks Canada and the Nomenclature Committee appointed by the American Association for State and Local History, with input from the museum community. The video provides basic information about the Nomenclature system and how museums can use it to standardize their documentation and improve access to their collections. It also includes a tour of the search and browse features and the options for download and linked data integration that can be found on the Nomenclature site.

This video was created by the Canadian Heritage Information Network.

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