I finished the functional map back in early September and moved on to my next major task (building authority files) but I’ve just got round to having it printed out on the massive CYC printer so I have a real physical copy to stick on the wall and share with you. I’m sorry I didn’t get round to doing this sooner, and whilst I’m sure no one was waiting on tenterhooks, I shouldn’t have left it hanging – that’s bad blogging! For some reason the print unit put it on a black background which doesn’t photograph very well close up (but looks funkily retro on the wall) so I’ll use screen shots from my computer to show detail.
So, here are my 13 main categories which form my “sub-fonds” level in the CALM catalogue:
- FIN Finance
- ADM Administration
- LEG Legal
- COU Council, Committees and Freemen
- ORD Public Order and Justice
- SOC Social Assistance
- UTL Utilities
- DEF Civil and Military Defence
- PPT Planning, Property and Transport
- CUL Culture, Recreation and Tourism
- ENV Environment and Trade regulation
- EDU Education and Training
- HEA Health
Each section is then broken down into 3-5 subsections, again based on function. Legal, for example, is split into 5 sections:
- Civil registration and ceremonies
- Boundaries and jurisdictions
Everything below these two levels is just an indication of what kind of records will fall into each sub-section, not actually how the catalogue will look, because the lower levels must be constructed “bottom-up” by identifying the real-life series of documents (on schedule to start in January). This is to make sure we respect provenance and original order.
Looks pretty simple right? That’s kind of the idea, that a lot of thinking and testing goes into making a robust end structure that I can fit everything into and is easy to navigate. It means that I shouldn’t have to think too much about each series as I physically catalogue it, just put it in its allocated place, like sorting post into pigeonholes.
The software I’ve used is called bubbl.us and was just the first one I came across online after a quick search. My first stage was to brainstorm all the different information I came across in my research in a big higgledy-piggledy mess.
Once I had captured everything in one workspace, then I started a new sheet and built a more ordered hierarchical structure by grouping the functions that emerged. When I changed my mind, I could delete bits, add bits or just drag the bubbles into a new section.
Archivists often arrange collections by writing notes on slips of paper and then moving them about on the desk until happy with it. This is just a digital method for the same process which I recommend to anyone, and is much less likely to blow away if someone leaves the window open!
Of course, the final catalogue will be a slightly different shape depending on how many records survive from each function, and hopefully I’ll have time to make another visual representation of the actual catalogue when I’m finished.
It could even be a visual interface into the collection, a big poster that a user can go to and locate their area of interest (and corresponding catalogue reference), or one day maybe even an interactive app that you could click on a bubble and it takes you to the online catalogue entry. How cool would that be on a large touch screen or electronic whiteboard?
Do you think you’d use a visual “browse” type interface instead of, or alongside, a text-based “search” interface? I think it would be great for users who don’t have a fixed interest to begin with, but just want to explore what we have, or when you are looking for something specific but don’t know exactly what to type in the search box. Having a strong browseable interface of some kind is necessary for this project because I’m only cataloguing to series level, so there won’t be the quantity of searchable text as you would find in a traditional item-level catalogue.
So that’s my structure as it stands. I’m now constructing the parallel and complementary web of authority files, the nitty gritty factual detail of which departments carried out which functions and when. This provides provenance and another access route into the collection.
There will be two posts on the blog this week – so come back on Friday to hear about the wonderful story of a York resident accidentally finding herself in the archives recently – in a photo from 1927!