Bulletin of the Nara National Museum"Rokuon Zasshu"


Its Relationship to the Bibliographic Control of Network Information Resources
Nara National Museum

,shis article reviews the circumstances under which the current Cultural Property Information System-the Nara National Museum's collections management system-was implemented, reviews its current status, and details the contents of its database. It then goes on to overview and discuss the development of the Cultural Property Information System concept envisioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs-which lay behind the actualization of the Nara National Museum and other national museum systems|and speculates about its potential for future.

The Nara National Museum constructed its collections management system in 1995 as a resource to consolidate accumulated data related to cultural properties. This system had at its core a database of text and photographs, the use of sub-tables and data codification allowing for the efficient accretion of a stable information base. One of the main goals of this database was the organization of the museum's photographic archives, data that was then made available to the public over the Internet.

Originally, the Agency for Cultural Affairs had proposed the concept of creating a single unified collections management system for all the national museums. This idea was never realized, and the Nara National Museum system, like those of the other museums, was built entirely independently. Instead, an engine called the Common Index on Museum Objects actualized the consolidated search capabilities envisioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs.

In retrospect, it is clear that the application of Internet networking and other technologies accelerated the public disclosure of information relating to museum]owned artworks, a trend that is likely to continue in the future. However, in order for such public information services as the Common Index to persist and improve, a system must be implemented to promote the creation of metadata and methods to deal with data irregularities. These changes are in the best interests of both the creators and the users.

Until now, the greatest progress in creating archival standards has occurred in the field of printed materials. The use of bibliographic control enabled the library community to establish a standardized technical foundation. However, the advent of network information resources and the range of irregular factors that came with it presented the field with a variety of new challenges. These issues have been dealt with not by the centrally concentrated methods of the past, but through innovative solutions using dispersed methods of control. This new movement, represented by a scheme called the Dublin Core, allows for the creation of flexible metadata information as well the construction and standardization of a search system that can be used for all types of information resources.

These trends in bibliographic control relate closely to the job of the museum to prepare cultural property information for use on the Internet. It is essential that developments in the field of bibliographic control be applied and tested in the Cultural Property Information System in the future.
Bulletin of the Nara National Museum Vol. 2, 3, March 2001

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