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The Calames catalogue

As a Union Catalogue created by ABES, Calames (Online Catalogue of Higher Education Archives and Manuscripts - CAtalogue en Ligne des Archives et des Manuscrits de l’Enseignement Supérieur) is a listing of archives and manuscripts held in French universities and higher education and research institutions.


From 2002 to 2008, ABES participated in a retrospective conversion project for the General manuscripts catalogue of French public libraries (Catalogue Général des Manuscrits des Bibliothèques Publiques de France - CGM) directed by the National Library of France (BNF) on behalf of the Ministry for Culture and the Ministry of Higher Education and Research. This project was completed in January 2008 with the delivery of EAD -format compliant XML files. .

The 70,000 pages of this catalogue were digitised and EAD converted. Commissioned by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, ABES coordinated this data retrieval for about 20% of the whole work by building upon the expertise and cooperation of some 15 higher education libraries. These institutions worked on about 36,000 records, which had to undergo special processing compared to the rest of the CGM (more detailed specifications and manual processing) in order to refine its structure and to enhance searches. By late 2006 and early 2007, a second kernel was established when the Palme directory (a directory of French contemporary literary manuscripts) was converted into EADS.

Detailed specifications had been written in close cooperation with a group of experts commissioned by the libraries. The two sides of the application (front and back office) are inter-linked together and were designed and developed by ABES from June 2006 to November 2007 using generic tools and technologies.

The front office of the application was rolled out on December 1st, 2007. In Spring 2008, the first participating institutions for Calames together with the Jacques Doucet Library in Literature (Bibliothèque Littéraire Jacques Doucet) and the International Library in Documentation started to update CGM and Palme records using the cataloguing feature.

A catalogue in evolution

The Calames working group, initially set up to decide on EAD metadata matters, is now contributing to the technical updates of the front office and the cataloguing back office (proposals, tests and troubleshooting). The group members are professionals from first-circle institutions and ABES.

In addition to updating data resulting from the national retrospective conversion from CGM and Palme, Calames also helps libraries and archives joining annually the circle of participants to catalogue their information in EAD format and to promote holdings that are underused in the absence of funds, training and tools.
 Under specific conditions, participating institutions can apply at ABES for financial support for the retrospective conversion of their inventories.

At the moment, some fifty institutions participate in Calames. Their holdings are yet to be fully referenced and the catalogue is updated with new records and inventories daily.

Calames Plus, a catalogue enriched by its users

Calames broadens its services, with new functionalities bases on users' accounts. "Calames Plus" allows authentified users to annotate archive or manuscript bibliographic records, in order to propose new bibliographic references or links to other documents. ABES, as a moderator, invites all Calames library members to follow through RSS feed comments on their records.

"Calames Plus" also offers the opportunity, for Calames member institutions, to associate images (digitized version of the document) to bibliographic records.

Read more on Calames Blog

For more information

Please read :

  • Issues number 48   and 49 of our quarterly Arabesques magazine.
  • The Calames blog mainly dedicated to provide with technical insights into Calames.

Contact: manuscrits@abes.fr

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