What is an item, or a document?

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An item, or a document, refers to an intellectual "thing" which cannot be reduced (without destruction).

For example, a letter is a document. If a page of the letter is removed, the letter is partially destroyed. Hence, a page is not a document unless that is the full extent of the item.

For a second example, a single image which stands on its own, is a document, or an item. If, however, the image is the 2nd or third page of a series of images of a musical score, then this image is not, by itself, a document. It is a portion of a document.

For a third example, an audio file which is a single segment of a performance is not a document; the compilation of all the audio files in the correct order, represents the intellectual whole. This is then considered an item, or a document.

It is our policy to always create descriptive metadata for digitized content at the item (or document) level. (I'm using these two terms interchangeably).

While we may choose to create page-level descriptive metadata in certain circumstances to grant greater searchability and accessibility, this is not standard policy.


For analog items that have been combined This policy comes from Jessica Lacher-Feldman, Marcia Barrett, and Donnelly Walton, with the test item being a sheet music object with a separate musical score attached:

"From an archival standpoint, the object in its analog form remains as is, and that should be how it is reflected in its digital form. We would not separate them physically, and therefore would not want them to be separated digitally. The digital object should be a digital representation of the analog object.

It is important that users are able to access both pieces of music, so creating bibliographic records and metadata records for each item and linking them is the correct procedure, with a note in the record that reflects the fact that they are one physical entity, bound together post-publication by their owner. This is standard for rare materials cataloging, as often you find two early printed books bound together as one physical object. It is clear that the second title was overlooked when it was originally cataloged many years ago. Thank you Mary for catching that.

In short, the physical object remains the same (and in turn the digital does as well), but intellectual access is needed to both pieces. If we were to digitize such an item, it would remain as one digital item but would need two records that reference each other."

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