Language Policy

i. General Notes

The primary language of OSA catalogs is English. English descriptions must be produced for all archival units.

No exceptions should be made regardless of the language of the material or the working language of the organization.

Cataloging guidelines and all archival and library guidance will be written in English including domain specific criteria: e.g. OSA library best practices, OSA archival best practices as well as item level cataloguing rules. This guidance should be translated depending on the decision of the Supervisor see the need.

Archival descriptions should be translated in their entirety only if the majority of the records are non-English. In this case, parallel records, or description translations, should be produced for the entire hierarchy of the archival fonds.

Example: Personal Papers of Gábor Demszky (

OSA Catalog should partially supports parallel bibliographic records for Item/Serial and collection descriptions if the language of the majority of a collection appears in a language other than English.

Because of system constraints and the applicability of MARC21, library bibliographic entries cannot be replicated in more than one language. This language will be English.

For non-Latin subjects defining a concept (topics, events) we do not use transliterated versions at item/folder level descriptions, such cataloguing data should only be translated into English or used in its non-Romanized form.

The primary language for managing digital assets and digital collections is English, therefore the file naming convention used on masters and derivatives will be English.

Persistent identifier incorporated into URL should be expressed in English if “speaking” element exists in the URL.

ii. Mixed Language Metadata Records

The primary language of archival descriptions is English. Archival units containing mixed language content should be described in English. xx

In the case of archival units that contain entirely non-English content, parallel descriptive records are to be created. This will produce dual language metadata records when required. On a case-by-case basis and with the exception of fonds-level descriptions, archival units that contain entirely non-English content can be described in the language of the content, if the unit can be arranged into a single unit that reflects only the language other than English. Before producing these descriptions IT services and the Chief Archivist must be consulted.

Examples: HU OSA 300-55 Polish Underground Publications Unit, 1976-1992

HU OSA 300-55-4 Polish Underground Periodicals

Once the AMS is in production mode, the Digital Collection metadata records will be produced using the OSA Digital Repository Data Model (Appendix I), that is to say, separately from ISAD(G) descriptions. The OSA Digital Repository Data Model is harmonized with ISAD(G) folder/item-level descriptions. In the case of non-English content contained in Digital Repository, dual language metadata records should be produced.

For more detailed information about the Digital Repository, please see Appendix I of this manual.

The number of parallel records sets is limited in the AMS to two. OSA’s AMS supports records in English and a single additional language. Parallel records will be produced only in the language reflected in the material being described. Preferably no exceptions should be made to this rule.

For additional translations of certain fields – e.g. titles - we should use the alternative title fields, and the translated catalog should be linked to the main and parallel catalogue entries on the web page.

iii. For item/folder level descriptions

Subjects i.e. people, topics, events, places may in the future, be linked in both the Library and Archival cataloging systems, in all non-English languages frequently used at OSA.

iv. Authority Records

OSA keeps Authority Records, based on ISAAR-CPF records and Library Authority Files, for all of its donors and creators. These Authority Records should contain proper names, i.e. supplied or formal, preferred and nonpreferred, acronyms and parallel names in English, in the language of the material and in the working language of the creator/collector.

OSA also keeps Authority Records on the units of corporate bodies. These names should also be recorded in their original form. Corporate body units are generally placed at the sub-fonds level of the archival hierarchy.

Example: HU OSA 300-20 Bulgarian Unit, 1949-1994 or SNAP: Center on Crime, Communities and Culture, 1996-ca. 2000

OSA Authority Records should include proper names in their original format. The original name will be derived from legal statutory documents, or the latest organizational chart establishing the statement of responsibility for the whole collection.

Example: Open Society Foundations registered in a specific country, should be referred to by the name

specified in the founding documents; at the same time, parallel names should be recorded in the Authority File Database

When the name is ambiguous, the Deed of Gift document will be used to justify the use of a name or a consultation with the donor. The primary entry in an Authority Record will be decided upon the above circumstances, however we will prefer primary entries to be in the same alphabet, Latin.

Examples: Міжнародний фонд «Відродження»

Miznarodnyj fond «Vidrodzhennya»

International Renaissance Foundation,


v. Original non-Romanized names

Original non-Romanized proper names should recorded in their internationally accepted and transliterated versions. Not in English. If no international transliterated version exists, we should rely on OSA Transliteration Rules.

Original names names with diacritic letters should be used in their original format.

vi. Geographical Names

Geographical names can be part of the former and supplied title of the fonds, sub-fonds, series. The form of their name should adhere to the form of the rest of the title, be it English, transliterated non-Latin, or non-Latin.

Geographical names with diacritic letters should be used in their original format.

In archival descriptions, OSA uses an authority record for all all countries, current and historical ones. The two fields in the AMS that utilize the country name authority record are Associated Place and Spatial Coverage. We may later choose to expand this control to a Places Authority File and include other geographical entities.

Written by Emily Hanlon on Thursday August 25, 2016 - updated on Friday August 26, 2016