Indexing PastPerfect metadata for the “Catholic Portal”

Using VuFind’s inherent ability to index OAI metadata, I have successfully been able to index metadata coming from a PastPerfect implementation.

Starting somewhere near version 1.2, VuFind supports the indexing of arbitrary metadata types. Content from OAI repositories was the original example. Later, I figured out how to index EAD files. This was a break through for the “Portal”. Give credit to open source software.

With the addition of the Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center (PAHRC) into the Catholic Research Resources Alliance, a new metdata format needed to be accepted — metadata other than EAD or MARC. PAHRC uses “cataloging” software called PastPerfect. From what I can tell, it is a sophisticated FoxPro/Microsoft Access database application. It provides the means for institutions to do data entry, and have their holdings searched, and ultimately displayed on the Web.

PastPerfect can export its metadata in a form of Dublin Core. After working closely with Shawn Weldon, Faith Charlton (both of PAHRC), and Brian Gomez (Past Perfect, Inc), the metadata exported by PAHRC was tweaked to be less ambiguous and more accurate. Once this was done I was able to harvest the metadata, parse it into something usable by VuFind’s Solr indexer, and make it available through the Portal. I did this with a script called pastperfect-index.pl. The result is a set of searchable records from PAHRC.

My current implementation is specific to PAHRC, and when other PastPerfect libraries/archives come on board, it will not be too difficult to abstract my implementation to support other institutions. That work is left to the future, when and if it occurs.

Fun with open source software!

Author: Eric Lease Morgan

I am a librarian first and a computer user second. My professional goal is to discover new ways to use computers to provide better library services. I use much of my time here at the University of Notre Dame developing and providing technical support for the Catholic Research Resources Alliance -- the "Catholic Portal".