In the new ESTC users will be able to edit or “curate” existing data, add new data, and match contributed records to existing ESTC records.  No data will be deleted or overwritten.  Rather, user-contributed edits will be recorded in a versioning system not unlike a wiki.  Changes can always be rolled back and all edits done to records will be recorded and  available for reference in the future.

User Accounts and Confidence Ratings

Following the example of projects like Old Weather, all user accounts will probably be assigned editorial levels based on a number of possible factors, especially the number of edits a user has made.  The editorials levels will probably range from 1 (beginner) to 5 (advanced).  In the survey at the end of this blog, we request that you suggest criteria for establishing editorial levels.

All contributed or edited data will receive a “confidence level” based on a combination of the number of edits and the editorial level of the editors.  The confidence level will be a range, perhaps again from 1 to 5.  For example, 3 confirmations of a publication date by editors with level 3 or higher could result in a confidence rating of 5.  As with all ESTC metadata, the confidence rating will be available within the advanced search.


Users will be able to curate bibliographical information about a work, its holdings information, and authority records for linked data stored in the ESTC (for example, publishers names not recorded in the Library of Congress authority file or at VIAF).  No holdings information contributed by libraries will be deleted or overwritten.  As with user-contributed changes to bibliographic entries, information about holdings contributed by users will remain separate from that provided by libraries and will be subject to versioning.

Contributed Records

Users will be able to match works in the “contributed records” corpus to ESTC records.  We hope to implement a visual MARC editing tool, akin to Juxta for full text, to allow for easier comparison of MARC data, though this will probably happen later in the development phase.  Holdings information for a contributed record that a prescribed number of users match to an existing ESTC record will get added to that ESTC record and the record will be removed from the provisional “contributed” corpus, though the bibliographical information will be retained.  A record that a prescribed number of users suggest is new to the ESTC will be sent to a review board;  if the review board determines that the work is indeed new to the ESTC, a new ESTC number will be created, and the original record will be removed from the “contributed records” corpus.

User Contributed Records

Users will be able to create records from scratch for items they believe are new to the ESTC.  These records will go in the “contributed records” corpus for review by other users.  If the record is created from a digitized work, users will be required to provide the URL for the work, so that other users can consult the digital surrogate.  If the record is created from “book in hand,” users will be required to submit an image of the title page, and encouraged to submit images for other telltale bibliographical information (like catchwords or misspellings) for other users to review.

Group Accounts

Users will be able to link their individual accounts to group accounts in which they can work collectively.  Possible features within these group accounts include chat rooms, listservs, and collections of records with editorial progress reports.  Again, the survey requests ideas for features users want to see within group accounts.


One response to “Curating

  1. Mary Ann O'Donnell

    I use the ESTC on a regular basis, and when it is simply to identify an item or an author or a year of publication, it is superb.

    However, when I was preparing the second edition of my bibliography of Aphra Behn (which is occasionally referenced in the Behn section of the ESTC), my joy at finding additional locations for copies turned sour when I came to realize that many of the cooperating libraries simply tacked on their logos to titles without understanding that there could be some major differences between the edition or issue they claim and the one they actually have. I could not use any such additional locations in my bibliography. I had to stick with only those copies I had myself examined.

    For example, the pindaric on the coronation of James II poses real problems. The ESTC identification simply states: “With stop-press corrections on leaves D1v and E1r; undifferentiated.” This is not so. There are actually two editions using the same title page and first part. In a number of copies, from D1v to the end the type has been completely reset and the stanzas reorganized, changing the poem completely. When I wanted to use the additional locations for holdings of copies that I had not seen, I could not since there was no discrimination between the two editions. In addition, holdings are misidentified—no matter which edition. For example, Yale Sterling does not hold a copy of either version of the pindaric; Yale Beinecke does hold a copy of what I define as the second edition. Sterling simply has the electronic copy.

    A similar situation involves the three separate issues of The Rover in 1677, only one of which (the third) has Behn’s name on the title page. The distinction is important because the third issue contains an additional line in the postscript, which Behn scholars would find important. However, the ESTC says for one of the three (not clearly differentiated) issues that it is “[o]ne of two reissues of the edition with a full stop after ‘rover’ in title. The title page is a cancel.” In the third issue, the title page is a cancel; however, only one issue, and not the one with the cancellans title page, has a full stop after “Rover.”

    As to Wing numbers, sadly I gave up on them a few years ago. They only add to the confusion.

    I could add a few more examples, but I think you see my point. These issues might be important simply to the mutant ninja bibliographer, but I somehow suspect that they can matter in general research—or at least I can hope they would.

    What you suggest in terms of curating might indeed address my issues. I hope that will be so.

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