Concerning the Philadelphia Eagles, Provenance, and Linked Data

Ms. Joyet is the Assistant Head of Cataloguing. After graduating from Drexel University's iSchool in 2009, Ms. Joyet was hired...

It is not often that current events enter into rare materials cataloguing. It is even rarer that sporting events make their way into the APS catalogue. In early winter, a strange and unusual feeling overwhelmed Philadelphia: the Eagles could perhaps win the Super Bowl. Even those among us who do not necessarily care for “sports ball” had to admit that there was a tingle in the air.

Everyone in Philadelphia got in on the act, including the APS. It was obvious that the American Academy of Arts and Sciences was feeling particularly bold when they wagered an original Benjamin Franklin manuscript against the APS’s copy of John Adams’ A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States (1787). We all know the final outcome of Sunday night’s game and it would be uncouth for such an esteemed organization as the APS to rub anyone’s face in our glorious victory.

The APS’s copy of A Defense of the Constitutions... will, of course, stay in Philadelphia, but it’s provenance has been forever altered. The cataloguing department was forced to add a 585 note (MARC code for an exhibit note -- happily, an exhibit which will never occur):

“585 ## $a Part of a wager with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences during Superbowl LII being the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles. (February 2018)”

In addition to the 585 note, we added a 711 (MARC code for a meeting name added entry):

“ 711 2# $a Super Bowl $n(52nd : $d 2018 : $c Minneapolis, Minn.)”

There was much local media attention concerning this wager and if the AAAS and the APS both had linked data capabilities, the cataloguing department would have been able to add those URI links to the record. Unfortunately, our libraries are not quite there yet, but at least 100 years from now, if someone searches for “Super Bowl” in our OPAC, they will be reminded of this great moment in not only APS history, but in Philadelphia legacy.

And of course, the APS Cataloguing Department offers its services to drive to Boston to collect the Franklin Manuscript.

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Will Fenton
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