Ohtsuka Yasuyo
British library. Curator Japanese Collections
Chris Dillon
British Library. Collection Metadata Systems Analyst

A Japanese online catalogue from metadata old and new

In this presentation we will introduce an innovative and collaborative project to enable online access to the content of printed library catalogues.

The British Library’s collection of antiquarian Japanese books and manuscripts is catalogued in several print publications but making them available online has long been a challenge. The two most important printed catalogues are very different in content and format.  

The Descriptive catalogue of Japanese books in the British Library printed before 1700 by Kenneth Gardner comprised very detailed records in English for 637 works.  By contrast, the Dai-Ei Toshokan-zō Wakansho sōmokuroku by Kawase Kazuma and Okazaki Hisaji had very brief Japanese entries for 3,500 items all using traditional forms of characters (kyūjitai). Both publications contained excellent metadata; neither was available in electronic format.

Recataloguing from scratch would be time-consuming and labour intensive but investigations showed that the latest OCR technology available in Japan was accurate enough to process complex metadata in English and Japanese or a combination of both in horizontal or vertical format and this offered a way forward.

Building on the British Library’s Memorandum of Understanding with the National Institute of Japanese Literature and its commitment to knowledge exchange, we were able to share metadata with them to support their digitisation and the construction of the Database of Pre-Modern Japanese Works.

The presentation will explain how close collaboration between the British Library’s Collection Metadata Systems and Japanese Collections and Toppan Printing made it possible to produce very accurate electronic metadata which could be manipulated for ingest into the Library’s online catalogue.  We will outline the methodology developed, explain the complexities encountered and offer lessons learned in the hope they will be useful to other libraries facing similar challenges.

A Japanese online catalogue from metadata old and new

本発表では、大英図書館のCollection Metadata Systems及びJapanese Collectionsと凸版印刷の緊密な連携により、出版古典籍目録のオンラインシステム搭載を実現化をするために必須となる、高品質電子データの作成・加工に成功した経緯を紹介する。

大英図書館所蔵の日本古典籍目録は、数点の冊子出版物がある。例えば、ケネス・ガードナーによる『The Descriptive catalogue of Japanese books in the British Library printed before 1700』は、元禄以前の出版物637点について解題目録を英文で記述する。川瀬一馬、岡崎久司共編『大英図書館所蔵和漢総目録』は、3,500点の古典籍(写本を含む)を簡潔に記述する。両書とも電子版は存在せず、それらをオンライン化することは長年の懸案課題となっていた。