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Summary of CETH Workshop
on Documenting Electronic Texts
May 16-18, 1994 -- Radisson Hotel, Somerset, NJ
 
This has been cross-posted to AUTOCAT, ETEXTCTR, PACS-L, and Emedia.  I
apologize for any duplication.
 
This workshop focused on the issues relating to documenting texts in
the humanities.  The TEI header was discussed in its relation to current
international cataloging standards and the MARC record.  CETH thought
that it would be of interest to the subscribers of TEI-L.  If you have
any comments, please post them to ETEXTCTR or to me directly.
 
Lisa Horowitz,
[log in to unmask]
_____________________________________________________________________
In May 1994, the Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities
(CETH) sponsored an invitational workshop on documenting
electronic primary source materials in the humanities.  The goal
of the workshop was to work toward a clearer understanding of the
relationship between the TEI header, the MARC record, and the
current international cataloging rules, with an objective of
proposing changes where they may be needed.
 
I.  Background Information
 
Since people may be unfamiliar with either the TEI or MARC, a
brief explanation of each is in order.  The Text Encoding
Initiative (TEI) is a major international project to develop and
disseminate guidelines for the interchange of machine-readable
texts among researchers in the humanities, and to make
recommendations for the encoding of new texts.  It is sponsored
jointly by the Association for Computers and the Humanities
(ACH), the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL), and
the Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing (ALLC).
The guidelines have recently been formally published as _Guidelines
for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange (sometimes referrred to
as TEI P3).
 
In these guidelines, a structure is proposed for an electronic
text "header," somewhat equivalent to a book's title page.  The
header contains the traditional elements of a title page, such as
title, author, and publisher.  However, it also includes more
extensive information specific to electronic texts, needed by
humanities computing scholars, such as explanations of text
encoding (e.g., what features were marked up:  proper names,
abbreviations, quotations, foreign words, bibliographic
references, editorial comments, etc.); its source, if it was
transcribed; and a revision history (who did what to the file
when).  This header can alleviate problems caused by the lack of
documentation so common in informally-created (and even some
formally-created) electronic texts.
 
MARC (MAchine-Readable Cataloging) is a definition of a structure
for formatting data, originally designed as a standard for the
bibliographic information found in library catalogs, although its
uses have multiplied.  In each record, MARC defines fields and
subfields which represent specific kinds of information and which
require certain syntax.  Software for library catalogs is based
on MARC record formats.  Using the fact that each field's syntax
and content is defined, the software will generate a screen which
is easy for users to read and understand.
 
II. Purpose
 
Originally, a workshop was proposed that would address issues
surrounding the cataloging of electronic texts.  As plans
developed, the purpose of the workshop was clarified and
broadened to include the convergence and/or divergence of MARC
and TEI, because it became clear to CETH that the goals of these
two electronic standards were similar, yet they were not
officially connected.  It was even possible to envision a single
electronic file which would represent all the bibliographic
information contained in the TEI header while also functioning as
access point, the way the MARC record currently does.  Another
issue which CETH considered important to both catalogers and
users of the TEI guidelines was the question of what represents a
new edition of an electronic text.  It was hoped that workshop
participants would confront these issues.  Participants
represented computing, publishing, humanities, and library
communities.
 
III. The Program
 
In preparation for the program, participants were asked to read a
number of materials introducing the subjects under discussion.
To illustrate the cataloging issues, the newly printed Guidelines
for _Cataloging Monographic Electronic Texts at the Center for
Electronic Texts in the Humanities_ (informally called the CETH
cataloging guidelines) and a booklet explaining USMARC formats
(the MARC standard used in the United States) were included.  To
give background on TEI and SGML, three chapters from TEI P3 were
included which explained SGML (Standard Generalized Markup
Language, the markup language on which the TEI guidelines are
based) and the TEI header.  Additionally, the TEI header of an
electronic text was included, with a related MARC record and a
catalog record as might be retrieved by a library patron.
 
The one-and-a-half day program combined a great deal of new
information with much discussion.  For the first part of the
workshop, experts knowledgeable about SGML, TEI and MARC
presented overviews to ensure that all workshop participants,
most of whom were expert in one or two of these fields, had a
background in all three.  The overviews began with an
introduction by Allen Renear of Brown University on the needs of
the humanities scholar.  Michael Sperberg-McQueen of the
University of Illinois at Chicago, one of the editors of TEI P3,
gave a general introduction to SGML and its use in humanities
materials, followed by Rich Giordano of the University of
Manchester, England, a member of the TEI Text Documentation
Committee, who discussed the purpose and contents of the TEI
header.  Clifford Lynch of the University of California described
how the TEI guidelines could benefit networked resources, and
what needs to be developed to link bibliographic information with
actual locations on the Internet.  Randall Barry of the Library
of Congress gave the group an introduction to MARC formats.
 
Three presentations of projects that applied the principles of
TEI and MARC to electronic texts were presented following the
overviews.  Dominic Dunlop explained how the British National
Corpus, a national corpus of language used in writing, reading
and speaking, used TEI headers, describing the difficulties the
header presents for spoken texts and the issues of generating
bibliographic records from the information contained in the
headers.  Daniel Pitti of the University of California
demonstrated the Berkeley Finding Aids Project, a Dynatext-based
prototype interface used to search and examine unpublished
collections of primary source materials at Berkeley. (Dynatext is
an SGML-knowledgeable browsing software produced by Electronic
Book Technologies.)  John Price-Wilkin and Edward Gaynor
described the process used at the University of Virginia by
catalogers to create TEI headers for electronic texts held by the
university.  The catalogers then use those headers to create MARC
records.
 
The rest of the program was devoted to discussion.  The
participants were divided into four groups of approximately
twelve people each.  An attempt was made to include people with
different perspectives in each group.  Each group's moderator
kept the discussion focused on a prescribed set of questions.
All four groups discussed the same questions.  A reporter took
notes in order to present his or her group's viewpoints at the
final meeting.  The questions covered topics such as what
information is needed to describe or access electronic texts, the
special needs required by various formats such as images or sound
as opposed to text, and how to deal with different versions or
editions of electronic materials.
 
IV.  Conclusions and Recommendations
 
Generally, the groups came to very similar conclusions, which was
unexpected considering the wide range of perspectives held by the
participants.  A number of key points were raised in the
discussions.  The consensus was that the TEI header is an
invaluable tool for controlling and managing the information
related to an electronic text.  However, it was agreed that the
people who know the most about the electronic text are not the
catalogers but the creators of the text, and that a way must be
found to motivate scholars and publishers to include headers in
their texts.  Catalogers could then perform authority work on the
information found in the header, the same way that they do for a
title page of a printed book.  The possibility of mapping
directly from the TEI header into a MARC record was seriously
considered and supported.  However, although the prospect of
using just one electronic record for use both as a "title page"
to the document and as a way to access materials was considered
by some of the groups, it was only acceptable to a minority of
participants.  The main closing recommendation was that more
meetings must take place between people of many different
backgrounds, and that discussions must take place on listservs
such as these.
 
V. Future
 
A full report of the workshop will be published by CETH in late
summer as CETH Technical Report #2.  CETH is developing its
research program on documenting electronic texts in the
humanities and expects to organize future workshops on this
topic.  Your comments on the topic, addressed to CETH, are
welcomed.
 
In the meantime, those who are interested might like to consult:
 
Hoogcarspel, Annelies, "Guidelines for Cataloging Monographic Electronic
Texts at the Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities," CETH Technical
Report No. 1, April 1994.
 
Hoogcarspel, Annelies, "The Rutgers Inventory of Machine-Readable Texts
in the Humanities:  Cataloging and Access," _Information Technology and
Libraries_, (1994) 13(1): 27-34.
 
Hoogcarspel, Annelies, "The TEI and Cataloging," _Cataloging and
Classification Quarterly_, [1993?] 16:1, in the _Cataloging News_ column.
 
 
For copies of the CETH cataloging guidelines mentioned above,
please contact CETH directly.  See address below.
 
***************************************************************************
The Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities
169 College Avenue
New Brunswick, NJ  08903
phone:  (908) 932-1384
fax:    (908) 932-1386
e-mail:  [log in to unmask] (Internet)
         ceth@zodiac (Bitnet)