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Using Controlled Vocabulary

A controlled vocabulary defines a list of valid terms that can appear in metadata fields within CONTENTdm. Enabling a controlled vocabulary helps ensure consistent and rapid metadata entry.

An administrator establishes which fields use a controlled vocabulary. (Controlled vocabularies cannot be used with administrative fields.) Controlled vocabularies can be shared between fields and collections, which means they can edited by other collection administrators.

Learn about:

  1. Enabling Controlled Vocabulary
  2. Administering Controlled Vocabulary
  3. Sharing and Managing a Shared Controlled Vocabulary

For more information, see the Controlled Vocabulary tutorial (PDF).

Enabling Controlled Vocabulary

A controlled vocabulary can be enabled when you are adding a new field or editing a field. To display the options for controlled vocabulary, you select the Yes option for the controlled vocabulary property from the Add Field or Edit Field pages.

For more information about adding fields, see Viewing and Managing Fields. For more information about editing fields, see Editing Field Properties.

To enable a controlled vocabulary for an existing field:

  1. Open CONTENTdm Administration.

  2. Click the Collections tab.

  3. Click Fields. The Metadata Fields page opens.

  4. Click the Edit link for the field. The Edit Field page displays. (Controlled Vocabulary is disabled [set to No] by default.)

  5. Click Yes to display the Select and Share Controlled Vocabulary options.

  6. Select whether you want to create a new controlled vocabulary or whether you want to use a controlled vocabulary that already is used by another field or collection and has been enabled for sharing.

    To create a new controlled vocabulary for the field:

    1. Select what kind of controlled vocabulary list to use:

      • A thesaurus. Choose from the following options:

        • Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) ®

        • Canadian Subject Headings (CSH)

        • Dublin Core Metadata Initiative Type Vocabulary

        • Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN) ®

        • Guidelines On Subject Access To Individual Works Of Fiction, Drama, Etc., 2nd ed., form and genre

        • Māori Subject Headings / Ngā Ūpoko Tukutuku

        • Medical Subject Headings (MeSH®) 2010

        • Newspaper Genre List

        • Thesaurus for Graphic Materials: TGM I, subject terms

        • Union List of Artist Names (ULAN) ®

        For descriptions of these thesauri, see www.oclc.org/us/en/terminologies/default.htm.

        Note: You can review the selected thesaurus by clicking View Thesaurus. A window opens, displaying the terms in the thesaurus.

      • The contents of the existing field. Enables you to use the contents already in a field as the basis for your controlled vocabulary.

      • A list of terms from a file on the server. Create a text file with one term per line and store it on the CONTENTdm server. Note that the text file must be encoded in UTF-8. Remember the file location because you must specify the full path to the file at the time that you select it. The maximum number of characters allowed in a single term within your text file is 128 characters.

    2. Select whether this new controlled vocabulary should be made available for using and editing by other fields and by other collections. (For more information, see Sharing and Managing a Shared Controlled Vocabulary.)

      If you choose to share the controlled vocabulary, specify a name (up to 80 characters). This name will later display in the Choose the Controlled Vocabulary drop-down list when editing other fields and collections. The name also will be used on administration pages as an identifier. (Note: After the controlled vocabulary is named and saved, you cannot change the name later. Be sure to consider the naming across your organization.)

    3. Click Save Changes. The Metadata Fields page displays. The Vocab column for the field is updated to display Yes (or Yes-shared, if you shared the new controlled vocabulary).

      To use a controlled vocabulary from another field or collection

    1. Select Use a Controlled Vocabulary from Another Field or Collection. Then choose the controlled vocabulary by name from the drop-down list. (If the list contains no options, there are no shared controlled vocabularies available.)

    2. Click Save Changes. The Metadata Fields page displays. The Vocab column for the field is updated to display Yes-shared.

Administering Controlled Vocabulary

When enabling controlled vocabulary, you are also enabling the ability to administer controlled vocabulary. This means adding and deleting terms in the allowed vocabulary list for that field. You also can change the setting for whether the controlled vocabulary is shared.

Note: If you are administering a shared controlled vocabulary, any changes will also change the vocabulary in other fields and collections that use it. A good practice is to always review the list of fields and collections sharing the controlled vocabulary before making changes to help you determine the impact. For more information, see Sharing and Managing a Shared Controlled Vocabulary.

After controlled vocabulary has been enabled, you can add and delete terms from the vocabulary list. To administer controlled vocabulary, you must be on the Edit Field page. Then, click Administer Controlled Vocabulary (or Administer Shared Controlled Vocabulary, if shared) to add terms (one per line), delete terms (one per line), browse the current defined vocabulary (opens in a separate window), and verify the existing field contents against the defined vocabulary. The maximum number of characters allowed for a single term is 128.

You also can add cross-reference terms when adding controlled vocabulary terms. This enables you to guide catalogers who want to use a similar term to the correct controlled vocabulary term. For example, you can map the word "cars" to the word "automobiles."

To add cross reference terms:

  1. On the Field Properties page, determine which field is linked to the controlled vocabulary list that you need to change.

  2. Click the Edit link for that field. The Edit Field page opens.

  3. Click Administer Controlled Vocabulary. The controlled vocabulary administration page for the field opens.

  4. In the Add Term text box, enter the word that you don't want used, then "USE" followed by the term that should be used. For example:

    cars USE automobiles

  5. Add any other terms or cross references on separate lines.

  6. Click Add.

  7. Scroll down the page. Click Browse to verify that the term was added as expected. The terms open in a new browser window.

After you have finished administering the controlled vocabulary, the new cross reference displays within the controlled vocabulary list.

Another option within the Administer Vocabulary page is the ability to verify controlled vocabulary for the current collection. This is useful if you have assigned a controlled vocabulary to a field after items have been added to the collection. When verifying controlled vocabulary, any terms that are found that are not in the controlled vocabulary list are listed in a separate window. You must go back to the Add Term text box to add the terms.

Tip: Use CTRL+C to copy the unverified terms from the Verify text box and then use the back button in your browser to navigate back to the Administer Vocabulary page. Use CTRL+V to paste the unverified terms into the Add Term text box. Make any edits to the list before clicking the Add button.

To enable sharing when administering an existing controlled vocabulary:

  1. On the Field Properties page, determine which field is linked to the controlled vocabulary list that you need to change.

  2. Click the Edit link for that field. The Edit Field page opens.

  3. Click Administer Controlled Vocabulary. The controlled vocabulary administration page for the field opens.

  4. In the Change Sharing section, select Share this Controlled Vocabulary Across Other Fields and Collections.

  5. Type a unique name for the shared controlled vocabulary.

    Note: This name will later display in the Choose the Controlled Vocabulary drop-down list and will be available when editing other fields and collections. The name also will be used on administration pages as an identifier. (After the controlled vocabulary is named and saved, you cannot change the name later. Be sure to consider the naming across your organization.)

  6. Click Save Changes to save and reload the Administer Controlled Vocabulary page. The shared controlled vocabulary name is displayed in the page title.

Sharing and Managing a Shared Controlled Vocabulary

A shared controlled vocabulary is a single controlled vocabulary file, stored in the server conf directory. Each field that uses the shared controlled vocabulary uses the same file, and all fields associated with that file have the same relationship to it. In other words, after sharing is enabled and the controlled vocabulary is used by another field or by another field in a different collection, there is no designation for which field originated the shared controlled vocabulary. Anyone administering the fields using the shared controlled vocabulary can make changes to the terms list, and those changes are reflected wherever the controlled vocabulary is used. (Controlled vocabularies cannot be used with administrative fields.)

Before you decide to enable a shared controlled vocabulary, consider how it will be used across your organization and over time. Define guidelines for acceptable changes and conventions, or other issues that may be important for your collections as they grow. You also need to define a name for the vocabulary that will work over time as a unique identifier because the name you create for the shared controlled vocabulary cannot be edited after you have saved it and enabled sharing.

In addition to administering the terms list, shared controlled vocabularies can be disabled for individual fields, deleted from the server, and imported when importing a collection.

Learn more:

  1. Enabling a Shared Controlled Vocabulary
  2. Administering a Shared Controlled Vocabulary
  3. Disabling a Shared Controlled Vocabulary
  4. Deleting a Shared Controlled Vocabulary
  5. Importing a Collection that Uses a Shared Controlled Vocabulary

Enabling a Shared Controlled Vocabulary

A shared controlled vocabulary can be enabled when you are adding a new field, editing a field, or administering a controlled vocabulary. The procedures for enabling shared controlled vocabularies are explained in earlier sections of this topic:

Administering a Shared Controlled Vocabulary

Administering a shared controlled vocabulary means you can view and edit the vocabulary terms list and verify it.

The process for administering the terms list of a shared controlled vocabulary is the same as administering a controlled vocabulary that is not shared with other fields or collections (see Administering Controlled Vocabulary).

However, if you are administering a shared controlled vocabulary, any changes will also change the vocabulary in other fields and collections that use it. A good practice is to always review the list of fields and collections sharing the controlled vocabulary before making changes to help you determine how that change may impact other fields and collections. You can access this list by clicking View List of Fields and Collections Sharing this Controlled Vocabulary. The list of fields and collections displays in a new window.

Disabling a Shared Controlled Vocabulary

Disabling a shared controlled vocabulary means you do not want the controlled vocabulary for a particular field to be used by other fields and collections.

When you choose not to share a previously shared controlled vocabulary when you are working with a particular field, a copy is made of the original shared controlled vocabulary file, and it becomes a controlled vocabulary for that field and is not shared by any fields or collections. Any changes to the controlled vocabulary from that point on impact that field only. The original shared controlled vocabulary still exists for other fields and collections using it.

If the shared controlled vocabulary was only used for that one field, then it is deleted. For more information about removing a shared controlled vocabulary from the server, see Deleting a Shared Controlled Vocabulary.

To disable a shared controlled vocabulary for a field:

  1. On the Field Properties page, determine which field is linked to the shared controlled vocabulary list that you need to change.

  2. Click the Edit link for that field. The Edit Field page opens..

  3. Click Administer Shared Controlled Vocabulary. The shared controlled vocabulary administration page for the field opens.

  4. In the Change Sharing section, select Do Not Share This Controlled Vocabulary.

  5. Click Save Changes to reload the Administer Controlled Vocabulary page. The shared controlled vocabulary name is no longer displayed in the page title and the Change Sharing section is set to Do not share this controlled vocabulary.

Deleting a Shared Controlled Vocabulary

A shared controlled vocabulary is stored on the server as long as one or more fields are set to use it and sharing is enabled. To delete a shared controlled vocabulary, all fields using that shared controlled vocabulary must be edited so that they are no longer associated with the shared controlled vocabulary file.

If you need to base one or more fields on the terms list of the shared controlled vocabulary before it is deleted, you can disable sharing of the controlled vocabulary for each of those fields. Disabling sharing while controlled vocabulary is still enabled makes a local copy of the shared controlled vocabulary for that field, which is then an unshared version of the controlled vocabulary. When sharing is disabled on the last field using that controlled vocabulary, the shared controlled vocabulary file is deleted from the server and is no longer available to be used by other fields from the Choose the Controlled Vocabulary drop-down list on the Add Field and Edit Field pages.

If you do not want to base the field on the shared controlled vocabulary:

  1. Edit all but one of the fields to disable controlled vocabulary.

    • On the Edit Field page, select No for the Controlled Vocabulary property.

    • Click Save Changes.

  2. Administer the shared controlled vocabulary for the last remaining field using the shared controlled vocabulary to disable sharing.

    • On the Administer shared controlled vocabulary page, select Do Not Share This Controlled Vocabulary in the Change Sharing section.

When sharing is disabled on the last field using that controlled vocabulary, the shared controlled vocabulary file is deleted from the server and is no longer available to be used by other fields from the Choose the Controlled Vocabulary drop-down list on the Add Field and Edit Field pages.

Caution: If the controlled vocabulary setting is changed to No for all fields sharing the controlled vocabulary, then the shared controlled vocabulary is not deleted and would still be available from the drop-down list and could be used by other fields. You must change the sharing when only one field is still using the shared controlled vocabulary. Disabling this last sharing connection alerts CONTENTdm that it should never be shared or exist in the future, and the shared controlled vocabulary is deleted from the server.

Importing a Collection that Uses a Shared Controlled Vocabulary

The import collection process checks for shared controlled vocabulary files. For more information about importing, see Importing an Existing CONTENTdm Collection.

To avoid errors and ensure your shared controlled vocabularies are successfully imported, consider the following recommended procedures.

Importing to a newly installed server

If you are importing a collection from an existing server to a newly installed server (for example, moving to new server hardware or switching server platforms), you should copy the shared controlled vocabulary files from the conf directory on the old server to the new one before you import the collections.

Importing to a server already running CONTENTdm collections

If you are importing a collection to a server that is already in use, that server might have shared controlled vocabulary files already. If you copy the shared controlled vocabulary files directly over, they could overwrite shared controlled vocabulary files already in use.

Before you copy the collection files over to the other server, first disable sharing for all the fields using the shared controlled vocabularies. Disabling makes a local copy of the vocabularies that can then be imported with the collection. After you successfully import the collection, you can enable the shared controlled vocabularies again and edit fields to use them on the new server.