Source Collection

Requirement Level: Required if Applicable

Core Element: Yes

Describes: Original Source


The name of a physical collection of related content, of which the described resource is a part. This field is especially relevant for archival materials structured in collections and it should be used in conjunction with Source Item Call Number. Record the name of the holding repository of the source collection in the Institution element. Information about virtual collections not related by provenance should be recorded in Digital Collection.


Digitized photograph from a Rose Library collection

Alice Walker papers

Digitized book from a named collection

Chester W. Topp collection of Victorian yellowbacks and paperbacks

Mappings and Encoding

Dublin Core: 


See recommended mappings for additional standards.

How Do I Fill This In?



Recommended Data Entry Type:

Free-text entry

Recommended/default values:

General best practice is to re-use the established source collection name exactly as it is constructed and formatted. A collection title may contain multiple sub-fields of information concatenated together, such as a name, type of content, date range, and other information. When feasible, the collection dates’ segment should not be entered, because they are subject to change.

For manuscript collections, best practice is to use the collection name from the Title field of the MARC record (specifically, 245 $a) for the collection, or the title of the collection as constructed in the finding aid (minus the date segment).

For book collections, the collection name is generally recorded in the Added Entry – Corporate Name (710) field of the MARC record, if applicable. Not all book collections have titles; only record if a collection title is present and useful.

The Source Collection element should only be used for items that are physically a part of a collection and related by provenance. This field is not intended to record collections topically related to the object.

Additional detail:

Archival collection titles follow established conventions to give important context about the collection, such as its creator and type of contents, which provides valuable keywords for searching.

Archival source collection titles change over time to reflect changes in the collection’s content, or when additional information becomes known about the collection. This is unavoidable, so the metadata should reflect the name of the collection as it was known when the metadata is created. Updating collection names is not necessary unless there is a compelling reason.


What is the difference between Source Collection and Digital Collection?

The Source Collection refers to the original collection - often an archival source collection, where the materials are physically related, or related by other provenance.

A Digital Collection is a virtual collection of purely digital objects, where digital items may be presented together from one or more Source Collections.

Links and Resources: 

Emory Finding Aids

Guideline last revised: 2015-10-16