Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Photograph collection of Crowsnest Museum in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, CA
My first encounter with this page was a repeating and simply made animated GIF with text that scrolled over various old photos, presumably from the museum's collection, and a link saying "click to skip intro". Am I the only one annoyed by these intro/splash pages? Even when they are impressive--just take me to the page. Things improved once I navigated past their general museum site and located their online photo collections, though not by much. There were two collections, and I focused on the general collection as opposed to another, specific photographer's personal collection. 
The very brief introduction states that "The Crowsnest Museum has a extensive photo collection covering various aspects of the history of the Crowsnest Pass", and provides a sampling with a promise of more photos to come. Following that is a bare-bones list categorized by (what I assume to be) original owners such as Mining Corporations and last names such as Blairmore and Coleman. The photos are further categorized loosely by subject, with a link to the batch of photos following.
Collection Principles: there does not seem to be an overarching collection policy at work here; rather it is a random smattering of photographs intending to showcase the vast photograph collection of the Crowsnest Museum. The photos have few descriptors, save a title (really a description) and a date on most (presumably ones that are known/available). The navigation, such as it is, is a simple "forward, back, home" set up and works well and fast enough. I've no idea if the collection is routinely curated or what the usage statistics are: there's no date or counter anywhere within the collection site, though the main site does give the uselessly vague "copyright 1998-2008" indicator. 
Metadata: There is barely anything in this category. As I stated before, there is a description and date, if known, beside each object, but no indication if this is part of the physical objects metadata or whether it was just included on the website. The only other piece of associated data listed is a classification number, usually starting with CM for I assume Crowsnest Museum and following with the initials of the photographs overall grouping. Points here for not associating the ID with the digital location, but they have a long way to go before they can provide context on these objects: with no provenance and no real metadata available this online collection would not be of much use to a researcher.
Object Characteristics: Again, not much here. The ownership of the photos is proven by the Crowsnest Museum watermark across each object, which would impede one from using the image without license, and there is a photo order link that addresses costs and commercial rights of the objects. "Digital Prints" are apparently stored and shipped on CD, an indication that that the Crowsnest Museum has no interest in providing digital services and absolutely does not view this collection as a valid research tool but mainly as an interesting side trip for those who stumble upon the museum's website. As for preservation and future use, who knows: since it appears that relatively little effort went into creating this collection and that many features of a proper digital collection are absent or ignored, it wouldn't surprise me if the entire thing just disappeared one day at the whim of a site redesign, new policy or over-zealous director.
Intended Audience: Maybe schoolteachers in Crowsnest, projecting historical images for classes and trying to ignore the watermark. Businesses and publications, probably from Crowsnest too, as that is who the photo order page mainly addresses. I imagine that a scholar or researcher, finding themselves interested in Crowsnest history, could only use this page to whet their appetite because of the lack of metadata and coherent policy. They would then assumedly visit the museum, where one can only hope the photographs are documented and collected better than they are here.

No comments:

Post a Comment