Thursday, February 26, 2009
Magic Lantern Virtual Exhibit
This virtual exhibit is truly a delight. The Cotsen Children's Library is a part of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at Princeton University Library and host a collection of illustrated children's books, manuscripts, original artwork, prints, and educational toys from the 15th century to the present day. The Cotsen site itself is bright and colorful, and wonderfully easy to use. Their virtual exhibits are also a delight. All four exhibits have been done in the same simple format.
The main page of the Magic Lantern exhibit states its purpose in clear language, clearly aimed at children and adults alike. It explains what a magic lantern is and gives a brief context for greater understanding. The bottom of the page holds discreate navigation buttons: a simple right-pointing arrow to begin viewing the pictures, and links to the other virtual exhibits. The top of the page also has small thumbnail pictures of the exhibit's items, as well as a link back to the main page.
Each image has its own page. The picture itself is hotlinked, and opens up a higher resolution image in a new window when clicked. Next to it lies the image's metadata - it's name, source, and the collection it is from. There are two or more additional paragraphs as well, explaining what the picture is specifically and what it means in a larger context. If additional information may be found on another site, links are often provided in these paragraphs for the reader's interest. The description of an image from the "Spooner's Protean Views" collection, for instance, contains a link to a Spooner dioramic print. This one is Mt. Vesuvius erupting.
As the daughter of a children's librarian, this site is absolutely wonderful.
This archive features four collections that are a result of collaboration between the University of Iowa writing programs and the School of Library and Information Science. The collections include the Iowa Writer’s Workshop Audio Archive, the International Writing Program Digital Archive, “Live from Prairie Lights” Audio Archive, and the Peter Nazareth Collection. The site explicitly states that there is a planned renovation of the archive and input is welcomed.
The user is able to select presentation preferences such as interface language, encoding, and interface format. Under the “help” tab the site states that it is an installation of Greenstone.
After selecting one of the four collections the user is offered detailed instructions on how to find information in the archive. This includes a list of the six different ways to search or access the contents of the archive as well as explanations on how to perform these actions on the website. The metadata for each audio file is thorough. Especially interesting elements include description, related works, general notes, and the inclusion of the digitizer’s name and the date digitized. The description and related works elements help give context to the audio files to those unfamiliar with the readings or authors. The general notes are helpful because they make the user aware of interruptions or transitions from one tape side to the other. I haven’t seen many instances of the inclusion of a particular digitizer’s name or the date digitized, so this was intriguing to me.
Some readings or interviews offer a low quality and a high quality version of the audio file. Some even include video files. However, I tested at least one file from each of the four archives and found that all worked except for those in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop Audio Archive. I tested around five audio files from this archive and none worked. This is frustrating when you’ve found something particularly interesting you’d like to hear, such as Denis Johnson reading from his non-fiction piece, “Hippies.” All of the files that did work in the other archives, however, were of good quality and quick to download.
The audience for this archive would be any current or alumni of the University of Iowa, especially those affiliated with the famous writing program, anyone interested in the works of the authors within the collection, or anyone using the material for research purposes.
My overall impression of this archive is that though it could use some work (and this is noted in their statement that they plan to redesign it) it does offer useful audio and video files with solid metadata. I think fixing the audio files on the Iowa Writer’s Workshop Audio Archive and updating the appearance of the site would be the first steps to begin renovation. Also, adding a more in depth history to the index of each individual archive would be helpful.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
This collection is presented and maintained by the State Archives of Florida, as part of the Florida Memory Program, which also includes other unique collection features like an online classroom, timelines, and links. The photographic collection contains approximately 154,000 digitized photos and some video clips, both individual and as part of several online exhibits.
The collection in its physical form was first established in 1952 by way of a gift from Allen Covington Morris, a journalist and historian who compiled the photographs for his writings. Though it proves to be a somewhat artificial collection assembled without a major thematic component, the photographs document the “people of Florida,” their families, work and pastimes. The collection is continuing to grow and develop. The criteria seems to be all encompassing so that the entire body of photographs from this collection may be scanned and made available online. The collection is further divided through genre, so it may be that more significantly historical persons or subjects are prioritized in the digitization process.
The metadata is available at different levels of the collection. The collection level metadata includes a relatively extensive historical description, with a side note on how to order photographs, or request them for special purposes (through contacting the archives). The collection is further divided through an alphabetical index mixing subjects and individuals. For this assignment, I focused on the Florida Folklife Collection. The metadata provided for these images includes an overhead archival description (quantity and date range), description and historical note provided through the finding aid. Images here may be browsed in their entirety, or through a search engine. The Individual image metadata is brief, containing only a description of the photo, the location, and an unidentified digital ID or numerical piece of data. However, when one clicks on the “details” icon to the left of the item, one can view the entire range of metadata for the image, which is extensive. It contains, among other items, a list of subject terms, the date and location of the physical capture, the creator or author, and the series. However, the does not appear to be any metadata about the digital object itself.
The images can be enlarged, which is the only available manipulation. Additionally, the digital format is a JPEG. Like most archives, the intended audience is likely very broad, from genealogists to researchers to enthusiasts.
According to the collection summary, the items date from 1935-1939, and were produced by Cleveland artists on relief. The Federal Art Project hired 350 artists in Cleveland, alone, during the program. The WPA project was led by the directors of the Cleveland Art Institute and the Cleveland Public Library. That collaboration resulted in a regional focus for the artists.
Each of the Digital Case collections pages starts with an abstract that has a "Collection Summary" tab and a "Full Record" tab. The summary typically only includes collection title, list of creators, subject, publisher, and formats of the items. The full record tabs expand to include more details about dates and rights information, a collection summary paragraph, and a unique identifier (URL in this case) for each collection. Likewise, when you navigate to each image in the collection, summary and full record tabs give you the level of detailed information you wish. A simple search and advanced search function are available on all pages so you can look for keywords from any point.
A prominent, "View This Collection," button takes you to a list of the items available for viewing. The list includes basic title, URL, and size information for each image. Unfortunately, there are no thumbnails on either the list page or the individual item summary page that allows one to get a quick view of the items. So, when you click on an item's title, you are taken the summary page, without preview, and must click on the title again to view the image.
The good thing is that images are all available in TIFF or JPEG2000. You can also download the full-resolution image, as well as two lower resolution JPEG versions. The main image is zoomable by a factor of about 4. Move, select box, zoom, rotate, reset image, and an interesting toggle thumbnail tools are available in the main view.
Over all, this is a neat collection on which the library did a nice job of including many versions of the images and including detailed information for researchers.
This online exhibit of Transportation Futuristics is meant to accompany the installation in the McLaughlin-O'Brien Breezeway on the UC Berkeley campus. The exhibit offers no explanation for what the installation in the breezeway contains or even where the building is or what it is used for. Presumably someone at Berkley has created this exhibit, but they never state that on the site.
The collection consists of pictures of various forms of transportation that were suggested for development at different times but were not actually ever made. The site suggests that the collection is meant to examine the various forms of transportation that have been imagined as well as why they were thought of and even what kept them from being successful. The exhibit is finished and it does not appear that they have any intention of doing anything new with it anytime soon.
The exhibit is designed solely for browsing, and it has no search functions. Visitors must choose between 11 categories and from there can click through that part of the collection one item at a time. For example a person interested in futuristic maritime transportation would select the maritime gallery, but beyond that they are limited to viewing the items individually in the order specified. Users interested in futuristic maritime transportation from the 1940s are forced to click through to find the information they are seeking.
Each item consists of an image and a short explanation, along with the information about where the image came from, sometimes even including the call number of the book it can be found in. While this metadata is helpful, it does not answer all the questions that a user might have about the individual images.
It seems that the exhibit was created for a person with a casual interest in transportation futuristics rather than someone doing actual research on the topic.
Phil Seed’s Virtual Car Museum
(1958 Alfa Romeo Giulietta, pictured at right))
This is a rather unconventional site I chose for this week’s entry. I wanted to look at private or individually run digital collections to see if there is any indication of people using metadata or zooming and examine the feel of their collection; how they rank importance of searching, organizing schemas, and upkeep for their site. One of the considerations that occurred to me while trying to find a small, private, or individually created and maintained collection was that of sustainability or maintenance. This collection has been published since 1998, over ten years. The design of the site and images while not technologically sophisticated is modern and fresh; it does not feel “nineties”. This is the primary reason I felt this collection, while not a conventional museum exhibit, would be interesting to examine against the guidelines for building a good digital collection.
Phil Seed’s Virtual Car Museum is funded and managed by Phil. The last update to the site was in January 2009 when he added five new car manufactures to the collection. The collecting policy and digitization decisions seem to be any two dimensional representations of primarily European cars made from 1950 to 1980. The collection includes marketing materials from manufacturers, photographs of restored or abandoned cars, and several photograph galleries from car museums that in the opinion of the site creator are exemplary instances of early car restoration or preservation.
There is very little metadata in this collection. A brief narrative essay accompanies most of the galleries and photographs but there is no information about the medium, date, artist or parent marketing company, or photograph contributors attached to any of the images. The most basic metadata that is included with all photographs and digitized advertisements is the make, model and year of the car, and location if it varies between photographs in a single gallery.
This site is humble but illustrates a well organized and logical layout for the users. Although the filtered menus for choosing which car, model, and year one wants to view are cumbersome and indicate that the visitor needs some prior knowledge of European mid 20th century cars it is simple to navigate. None of the images have zoom or thumbnail capabilities and all of the objects are different sizes; file size, display size. All of the scanned objects seem to have a relatively high dpi, but again this is difficult to determine since there is not zoom or alternate display size.
The only criticism I have for this collection is how restricted the searching function is. There is a general site search box that searches within the text created by Phil, so a user must have some understanding of how Phil classifies and describes the objects in his collection. The other searching tool is a list which filters each category of car make through basic ordered listing. Because there are only these two ways to search within the site it may become difficult for a visitor to recall an object that was, for example, seen on the “Rust in Peace” page but only remembers the background or perhaps the shape of the car.
The audience for Phil’s digital collection seems to be other people interested in mid 20th century motor vehicles. Visitors are welcome to sign the guest book, send Phil an email, and contribute to the content. There is a request that any errors be identified and brought to the attention of Phil for correction. There is also information about car rallies and parties across the nation so it seems that this site caters to people with a common interest in older cars and may be a form of social networking although Phil’s site lacks a discussion forum or chat room.
1. Selection Principles
The first page that a user views after opening the link to the gallery describes the history of the New York Public Library's collection of over 1200 posters from the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th. There are 1,000 of the 1,200 or so images available in the digital archive, and the intro text states that the Library's intention is to put all of the rest up as well. It does not say when, nor how or why the original 1,000 were chosen to be put up first. There is a paragraph on the background on turn of the century poster art as a genre that is helpful for someone unfamiliar with the period and form. It also helps justify in general the existence of the collection as a digital asset. As well, resources on the period and genre of the art represented are offered for users interested in further reading.
In the introduction page offers metadata on the collection. It gives provenance information, stating that many of the posters were donated together by Anna Palmer Draper, who was a major donor supporter of the Library until she died in 1914. The paragraph states that the origins of the rest of the collection are unclear. As well, the introduction describes the physical condition of the actual prints, which Library staff mounted on cardstock and bound in volumes by name of the artist alphabetically, rather than retaining original order of the Draper donation. As I mentioned above, there is also background information on the genre generally available on this page, and resources for further reading. The collection offers a lot of useful metadata for individual objects, and uses some of its metadata (such as subject tags presumably added by Library staff, not general users) for search functions within the collection. Some pieces of the data, like the subject tags, appear on the left of the page with boxes a user can check and hit a "go" button to find similar objects. Beneath each image, there is an "Image Details" link that can be clicked to expand and show the image title, image creator and any other names associated with the image, creation date, source, location where poster is physically housed and its call number, a digital ID number, a record ID number (thought it doesn't explain what these numbers mean or where they came from), and when the digital item was published as well as when it has been updated, which I thought was a useful addition that I didn't see on the last collection I reviewed.
The images are clear and can be searched according to key words in a text-box format or through checking boxes next to the provided subject tags and hitting "go" to retrieve other images with similar tags. The collection can be viewed in its entirety in thumbnails arranged alphabetically by title. When selecting to view one image specifically, only two size formats (smaller and larger) are supported, without good zoom capability. This function is found above the image on a "resize" button that when hit blows the image up. There are also buttons above the image for "print, "buy," "select" to add to a list a user can make of images useful to them, and "resize." One helpful thing that the collection offers is a permalink and a string of HTML for embedding the image on a web page.
There is no direct statement about the intended audience of the collection. It is easy enough to navigate that it may serve even a k-12 educational kind of purpose, but I believe scholars and interested folks would find it useful, too. Really in depth kinds of art history scholarship would not be facilitated by the gallery because of the inability to really zoom in on the image, as compared to, say, the Prado images we looked at in class from Google Earth.
The destination of this e-pillgrimmage is the Vatican Museums Online, which is a very neat site overall. The site is structured in such a way that you see the outlines of the Vatican buildings and can take tours via replications of the Vatican's actual physical space (see above.) You can also select the various Vatican museums by their name (e.g. the Sistine Chapel, Raphael's Rooms, etc.)
The collection itself is not terribly large, but is very well curated. Each object contains information about the religious meaning behind the art and links to relevant scripture. Overall, the Vatican's selection criteria seems to have been reproducing an actual physical tour of the grounds; thus, small images of each wall (and certain famous ceilings where appropriate) are included, but one cannot zoom in for larger images of all sections. Certain particularly famous sections, however, may be specifically selected and then blown up into a larger image/applet allowing zoom and rotating features.
I did not find the digital objects themselves to be all they could have been. While only selecting parts of larger paintings to blow up into the applet is fine, I would have liked the original image file to have been a bit larger. Also, the applets took a really long time to load, though the zoom feature was nice.
The Vatican's use of metadata also left a little to be desired. On the page with the object itself, you really only get the title, physical location, rough dates (the dates refer to the construction of the rooms housing the objects) and related religious information. In the preceeding page, when you enter the digital representation of the phsysical room, you get a blurb about the creator (not to be confused with The Creator, Who is eminently present throughout the site), but it would have been nice to have that info with the object itself.
The intended audience appears to be the public. The information provided is not deep enough to be geared towards experts, nor are the sizes of the images large enough for serious art study. Also, there is a distinct prosletyzing feel to the display, so I would imagine that the site, as one might expect from the Holy See, is geared towards the flock of Catholics and potential Catholics (ie the rest of the world's population.)
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Health Physics Historical Instrumentation Museum Collection is to chronicle the scientific and commercial history of radioactivity and radiation. The collection is funded by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) Foundation, and was built in 1999.
The whole collection includes four parts. The part one is about Instrumentation Museum Collection, the part two is about historical documents and articles, the part three brings users to an electronic library for radiation protection, and the part four is about radiation basics knowledge.
Especially, in the part one the collection exhibits different instrumentation according to their different types. Each item provides a thumbnail picture and a short description. Clicking on the thumbnail picture will bring up the item page. On the item page, the collection provides a big picture with a complete description. Unfortunately there is no zoom function for the picture, and the metadata for each item only includes the title, the picture and a complete description.
Moreover, in the part three, the collection provides more information about radiation protection. In fact, it can be regard as an independent digital library which includes federal regulations, agency, subject and index. The users can easily browse through regulations, agency, subject and index. And the collection has rich external links which lead to other websites. In addition, maybe because this online collection is small, there is no search function in the online collection.
The audiences for this collection are students, professors and researchers specializing in radiation and health physics. The digital collection has been deemed the official repository for historical radiological instruments by the Health Physics Society.
Alvin Hutchinson states in his introduction that this is “A collection of pamphlets and guide books published by zoos over the past century has been collected by the National Zoological Park branch of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. This online sample of these items, which includes maps, drawings and photographs of zoos from over 30 states and 40 countries, is intended to highlight the value of this resource for both zoo and cultural historians.”
As suggested it is just a sampling of the collection, but it would seem that there would have been a better collection of meta data to describe each of images. There is a wide assortment of guidebooks, pamphlets, book covers, studies, and reports. The primary data provided is the location of the zoo, the name of the document, its date, sometime the city of publication, the publisher and in some instances a caption. The following document is one one example, but the date was not documented.
Germany Carl Hagenbeck's Zoological ParkTierpark: Carl Hagenbeck (Carl Hagenbeck's Zoological Park)Hamburg: Carl Hagenbeck's Zoological Park, A brief history of Carl Hagenbeck's Zoological Park is included in an English language guide to the zoo.
The meta data poorly describes each of the documents, with no regards to cataloguing its description or unique features or its condition.
Every statement in regards to collection, care, etc constantly referred to the words in the mission statement,"I then bequeath the whole of my property...to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge..." James Smithson (1765-1829)
In my search of the web site which led me to the Smithsonian Institute’s site what I found interesting was the link to animal care and use. http://www.si.edu/about/documents/sd605.pdf
The primary audience for this might be a researcher, but so little meta data is provided that it would be necessary to visit the Smithsonian Institution Libraries for follow-up information. Possibly an animal or zoo enthusiasts would browse the site, but not for very long as there's not enough data to hold one's interst.
This is a particular exhibit featured on the National Library of Scotland's digital library's Web page. The Word on the Street features digitized copies of broadsides, which were the eighteenth century version of entertainment news.
The National Library of Scotland chose to digitize a large collection of various materials that represented different chapters of Scottish history and the broadsides offer a unique insight as to what interested the ordinary Scottish person three hundred years ago.
This particular digital collection of "broadsides" is pretty big: 1,800 digitized pictures out of a collection of 250,000. Each digitized broadside comes with an jpeg image of the original news-sheet, a full transcription of the text, a detailed commentary, and a downloadable PDF copy. The metadata that enables the user to search amongst the collection is grouped by subject search or element search (namely title, subject, or keywords). Also, with each broadside, the probable date of publication is listed, with cataloging numbers for reference.
The broadsides that have been digitized are of high quality, with historical value and are very entertaining to read. The images are in greyscale. Some have printed drawings, different fonts, and you can zoom into the broadside to read the article. When you click on a particular broadsheet, the curator or the librarian fill in the background with some specific commentary to add supplementary information to add value to the image.
As to what the intended audience may be, I would venture to guess that it aims to reach people involved in researching eighteenth century Scotland, Scottish history, folklore (since broadsides routinely published ballads and other forms of verse), and also attempts to interest everyone else.
Author Sarah Schulman and filmmaker Jim Hubbard draw on their own experiences as ACT UP/New York activists to create and sustain the ACT UP Oral History Project. The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) started in 1987 in New York with chapters in various cities starting and continuing the work. Jim Hubbard describes the motives and methods of the creative media machine: “In 1987, ACT UP emerged not only with the determination to end the AIDS crisis through non-violent civil disobedience, but also with a knowledge and understanding of the mass media that enabled a small group of people to utterly change America's view of AIDS. In 8 years, the lesbian and gay movement had gone from deathly fear to master manipulator of the media. ACT UP’s remarkable success and its notable failures must be documented, explored and analyzed in all its complexity.”
The interview project began in 2002, and the online site for the ACT UP Oral History Project serves as a digital archive in the sense that it includes five-minute clips from each of 102 interviews (the numbers range from 002-103, significantly holding the first spot, 001, for the undocumentable memory of the movement itself). The video clips are accompanied by a pdf of the transcript, and the index to the transcripts is available on the website. Unedited tapes of the videos are archived at both the San Francisco and New York Public Libraries. The digital collection that is the website presents the sheer number of activists involved and posts clips of each interview, so there is no digital collection selection since all of the interviews are partially digitized. The collection goal of the oral history project is to interview all surviving members of ACT UP. The collection continues to grow; the most recent interview was performed on October 21, 2008, though not all of the 2007 videos have been digitized (only the transcripts appear) and none of the 2008 interviews have transcripts or videos posted. The collection is clearly an ongoing and growing work.
Each interview is given a number chronologically as the interviews are generated, so the collection is organized chronologically by number. Viewers can select a link to an alphabetical list if searching for a particular name, but there is no search function. The organization of the digital archive just gets the information out there but is not interactive or easy to move among related groups of information.
Each interview, then, is accompanied by minimal metadata. The metadata includes the name of the person interviewed, the date of the interview, the number of the interview, and a thematic title that entices the viewer to watch the video clip. For example, the clip of the interview of Moises Agosto is titled “ACT UP Puerto Rico,” Jim Eigo’s interview tag is “A Queens Housewife,” Amy Bauer’s is “Why We Do Civil Disobedience.” The collection as a whole includes a thematic index, similar to an index in a book, that lists subjects addressed and the interview number and page number where viewers can locate that reference. For example, references to “Academia” can be found on “3/6, 3/9,” that is, in interview 003 on pages 6 and 9. The index includes links only when an entry includes a cross-reference, then viewers can click to go to the connected index listing. For example, “FDA” includes a note to “See ACTUP Actions: Seize Control of the FDA,” where “ACTUP Actions: Seize Control of the FDA” is a link to that index entry.
Perhaps since this activist project is primarily a memory project rather than an archiving project, there is no information about the interviewing process or about the digital objects. Though the ACTUP Oral History Project is a program of MIX-the New York Lesbian and Gay Experimental Film/Video Festival, there is no information about the filming and editing process beyond Jim Hubbard’s project statement in which he briefly describes “the straightforward videotaping of extended interviews utilizing a tripod-bound camera (although I am shooting with a second, hand-held camera).” The PDF documents do not include information about their size or origin, but they are clearly digital originals.
The multiple audiences for the project speak to the multiple values of activist archives. Sarah Schulman explains that the “purpose of this project is to present comprehensive, complex, human, collective, and individual pictures of the people who have made up ACT UP/New York. These men and women of all races and classes have transformed entrenched cultural ideas about homosexuality, sexuality, illness, health care, civil rights, art, media, and the rights of patients.” Sarah Schulman points out that researchers are a core audience for the project, since she noticed in the early 2000’s that “[r]esearchers could not figure out how ACT UP worked, what it did, who was in it (if I saw ACT UP referred to once more time as a white, middle-class, male organization, I was going to lose my mind.) Most importantly, the younger researchers could not conceptualize the level of oppression that we lived with. The cruelty that we were subjected to, and how very very much alone we were.” Activists comprise another core audience, Schulman explains, since the interviews offer models and histories: “when many of us feel that we cannot make change—we can watch people who did make change, and find out how it's done.” Schulman articulates a broad vision that urges researchers and activists to look at the diversity of ACT UP’s influences: “Researchers and activists interested in vaccine history would be as served as those interested in the history of AIDS prevention for Asian gay men. People interested in AIDS and the Catholic Church would have data, as well as people interested in AIDS and the Black church. The social universe that ACT UP engaged would be cumulatively available to inspire and inform the future.”
Finally, the archive reminds us that the work is ongoing: “ACT UP continues to fight to end the AIDS epidemic. For more information on ACT UP's current activities, see their website www.actupny.org.”
Monday, February 23, 2009
The Palace Museum was originally installed in the imperial palace of two consecutive dynasties-the Ming and the Qing. In 1961, imperial palace was designated by the China State Council as one of China’s foremost-protected cultural heritage sites, and was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987. The collections used to be unapproachable, however now having been converted into a pubic museum and the Digital Place Museum which was established in 2001, is dedicated to make the place museum itself more accessible to the whole world.
There are Chinese Traditional, Chinese Simplified, Japanese, and English versions.
General Introduction represents a brief history of the Palace Museum including location, area, layout, founding, collection as well as collection evacuation. News, events, calendar and notices are published at Express News.
Collections and Virtual Exhibitions are main parts. The collections are distributed in different categories, by clicking each category; the pop-out window will show visitors a group of thumbnails of images. By further clicking the individual image, pop-out window will represent explanatory text. However, visitors are not allowed to zoom in the images. The Virtual exhibitions cover various aspects of the Museum. This series of exhibitions is noted for its small scale, simple exposition and flexible format. The exhibitions are based on the research of the museum staff and are not exhibited in real museum due to the space limitation. Currently, there are six exhibits online:
- Art and Chivalry in Spain: The Royal Armoury of Madrid;
- European Clocks and Watches in the Palace Museum;
- Acquisition of Paintings and Calligraphy in the Past Decade;
- Selections from Sun Yingzhou's Ceramics Donation;
- Ruyi Scepters in the Qing Court Collection;
- Yongzheng's Screen of Twelve Beauties;
The Palace Museum holds the copyrights of all images, normally, images are not allowed be resold, copied or subjected to media changes unless authorized. But the Palace Museum provides particular service for academic and educational use.
The interfaces are well designed with beautiful images and detailed explanation text.
Overall speaking, the digital Palace Museum is well designed and user friendly. Comparing with the Musee du Louvre I did last week, at least, there are another two language versions besides Chinese.
In 2004, The Museum of London curated “1920s: The Decade that Changed London.” The objects in the exhibition came from nearly 40 different museums and collections. The content is interesting but the site itself is clearly an early example of museum digitization projects. The curators separated the content into 8 themes. After selecting a theme you are sent to a page with a brief overview on the topic and then you must follow another link to get to the actual images which are split into even more categories. The benefit of this approach is probably to make sure that viewers are contextualizing what they see but it makes it more difficult and time-consuming to navigate the page.
Each image is given a moderate amount of metadata as well as a paragraph explaining the context and history of an item. The exhibit includes portraits of celebrities, pieces of clothing, new technology from the decade and political pamphlets. The images themselves may be enlarged once when you click on them but are not interactive in any way. For example, an image of a hat will only show it from one angle. For a museum project the layout and content make sense but could benefit from an updated look and layout.
This digital collection, bereft as it is of detailed metadata/subject tags and so forth, is pretty obviously intended primarily for children. Though it could also serve the needs of parents and libarians/educators who work with children (particularly those who work with children that have interests in things buggy), as it does provide a detailed rundown on several quality books on insects of all genres: story books, natural history/science books, etc. But as an exhibition on 'the art of bug books' or some such, the lack of information on media holds it back from being all that it could be.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
The collection contains 625 posters from 45 different countries. All were issued by various organizations, health-care facilities, and other institutions for public education about HIV/AIDS and were created between 1985-2003. UCLA outlines its criteria for digital projects on its About the Digital Library Program.
The browsing feature allows users to scroll through countries, subjects, creators and title. A simple search can be done by keyword alone; advanced searching via Boolean search options includes keyword, title, description, creator, country and description. % is used for truncation or wildcard. Keywords are not limited to the primary images, theme or text. Background and secondary images can also be keywords. Results can be sorted by title or country with viewing options displaying 6 to 72 results to organize viewing order and groupings. UCLA uses Dublin Core, EAD. METS, and the Open Archive Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting.
Users can create their own virtual collections and allow others to view them or keep them private. If a user selects to register the a collection, the collection can be tailored to the user's specifications, such as adding personal notes or making the collection accessible to other users. A user does not have to register an individual collection, but there are no safeguards for its content and it may be changed by other users. The Full Record provides a zoom scale that allows 1.2x, 1.0x, 0.8x, 0.4x, 0.2x views. All images are JPEG. The 1.0x size is the native size of the image stored on the server. The Full Record also gives an English translation the poster's title and inscriptions. The "Help" feature does an excellent job of explaining how to conduct a Boolean search, create an individual collection, and use the search results.
This collection is varied enough to appeal to many different types of users, particularly those interested in poster art, health-care outreach, cultural mores, and the history of HIV/AIDs. "The collection is incredibly rich," said David Gere, director of the Art|Global Health Center at UCLA. "You can see some of the best graphic interventions in global health, as well as some of the worst, but the important thing is that all 619 posters are readily available at the touch of a button, to be seen and studied by any researcher with access to the net."
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Maine Historical Society - Maine's Statewide Digital Museum
The Maine Historical Society developed and manage the Maine Memory Network to allow "historical societies, libraries, and other cultural institutions across the state to upload, catalog, and manage digital copies of historic items from their collections into one centralized, web-accessible database." Source
The MMN has created online exhibits, outreach, interactive tools, lesson plans, in-school demonstrations, and more to help learn about and share Maine's rich history.
One of the MMN's many digital exhibits is the Samplers: Learning to Sew exhibit, which highlights the importance of sewing in the 16th and 17th century. The exhibit is small, and open to anyone who stumbles across it. Of the 14 items in this exhibit, only a handful are actual samplers. The remaining items highlight other aspects of sewing important, such as sewing wheels, magazine clippings, pictures of schools, and diagrams of different stitches.
Visitors are greeted with two options - a slideshow view, or a list view. Both views provide a thumbnail picture and a short description. Clicking on the "info" link beneath the picture brings up the items page, complete with metadata. The amount of metadata for each item depends on how much is known about said item, but typically includes the title of the item, date created, state, media, local colde and object type. Each item also has cross references - Library of Congress subject headings and keywords, all of which are links that may be used for further reference.
As a cross-stitcher, I was thrilled with the picture zoom. Each picture zooms in several times, to the point where the grain of the wood on the spinning wheel and each individual stitch can be made out quite clearly.
The UW Moving Image Collection falls under the umbrella of the universities’ Digital Initiatives Program. The program began in 1997 and focuses on the user’s perspective when designing digital libraries.
The collection is comprised of one to four minute film clips that come from industrial films, documentaries, home movies, art films, and news footage that were either created on the UW Campus or collected in the Northwest. The film clips range in formats, including 35 mm, Super 8, 2” Quad, and digibeta dating from 1915 to the 21st century.
The main page of the collection links to an instruction manual for film preservation written by the digital collections staff that is highly interesting. It contains information about the strides their own film preservation has taken since 2003 when they were given a grant that allowed them to purchase new equipment and expand their program. The manual is a work in progress and offers advice in the evaluation and decision-making behind film preservation.
You are able to either browse the collection or browse by subject in order to choose a film clip to view. The subject list is in alphabetical order and offers choices such as “American” or “aerial.” There are only 23 clips on the site, but all contain links the user may click on to download and view them as well as fairly extensive metadata. There are thumbnail stills that represent each clip that you can select when browsing the collection. Below each thumbnail there is a description of the clip that includes a title, location and date of the recording.
The notes element of metadata is particularly useful, offering a specific description of each event that takes place in sequential order in the clip. These descriptions are taken from Title cards that have been provided by a cataloger. There are hyperlinks within some of the elements such as “home movies” in the film/video title metadata; these links connect you to other clips in the collection that can be described similarly.
The main page about the Digital Initiatives Program states that anyone with questions concerning scanning techniques to input media can contact the site for more information. It specifically says the Dublin Core Metadata element set is used in tandem with CONTENT software to create a template that is then tailored to each collection. The Library of Congress Thesaurus for Graphic Materials and Library of Congress Subject Headings are also listed as being used in many of the digital collections.
Though this online collection is small, I found it to be very well put together. The listed metadata is extensive and informative and there are several simple ways to search through the clips using controlled vocabulary. The clips themselves, once downloaded, are clear and of good quality. I’d like to read the Washington State Film Preservation Manual: Low-Cost and No-Cost Suggestions To Care For Your Film as it is updated.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Maps of Africa from 16th to 20th century at the Northwestern University Library
The Northwestern University Library has an extensive map collection and they have chosen to digitize and make available a selection of these maps.
The collection includes all of the maps from their "Africana" collection that were not duplicates or in editions pertaining to other subjects (i.e. French maps of Algeria), stated in a link "about this collection". This is a loose collection policy, I suppose. The "about" section goes on to list technical data, such as the resolution and scanning process. They also throw a whole bunch of acronyms about metadata such as MARC, MODS, MIX, and METS, so one would assume there is a fair amount of XML metadata for each image, yet I cannot find it through the site interface.
About the interface: it is fairly well designed, with a search field and a drop down menu to browse the maps by title, date, cartographer, region and publication location. Each map features a click through link which redirects to another site that allows for five levels of zoom, a resolution that gets you absurdly close to the map. Thus the image resolution is great, and definitely usable for remote research. There is also a link to a downloadable TIFF image in the data for every map.
The only metadata associated with each map corresponds with the above search fields, along with size and format data gleaned from a quick right click and "properties". Publication location was an interesting addition and contributes to the provenance of the object--the "about" section also urged questions related to provenance to be e-mailed to the institution. Beyond this there is not much metadata relating to object creation date, authority, etc. Some object descriptions list authority but from reading them it seems it is just the authority listed on the map itself by the cartographer.
All in all this is a nice collection. There could be more metadata, and the separate link for the zoom-able image is not ideal, but the resolution of the image and the history and explanation in the "about" page give a researcher some things to work with. The images failed the "Google image search" test so I'm not sure how accessible this is to anybody who does not already know about it. I imagine the audience for this collection to be researchers already familiar with the Northwestern librarie's collection and wishing to access the maps from another location.
The South and Southeastern part of Asia is an area rich with a very old and productive culture; however their climate and very often the economies are not conducive to preserving artifacts of their cultural record. The Southeast Asia Digital Library attempts to gather a series of digital collection of books, photos, films, and other material from the different countries in Southeast Asia. My favorite is the Palm Leaf Manuscripts from Thailand. The ancient texts are in the form of palm leaf scrolls or manuscripts.
This organic material is very fragile and there are thousands of these invaluable texts written over the history of Asia, and the archivists and conservators have quite an insurmountable task ahead of in preserving them. The digitization of these manuscripts is currently thought of as one of the better ways to allow people to gain access, maintain records, and generally handle these fragile artifacts.
The Southeast Asia Digital Library based its selection criteria from the Digital Library of South Asia; both digital libraries are working to help a third world area preserve their cultural treasures and promote the study and access of non-English languages and cultures. I think the selection criteria is a bit fuzzy in terms of how they select what to digitize, but if the material conveys information about Thailand or South India or whatever country the manuscript may have come from, then it is considered a viable subject for digitization.
In organizing the material of the different items within the digital library, they have a menu that lets the user choose from images, books, videos, manuscripts, indexes, and reference materials. The metadata used to classify the different elements within the Southeast Asia Digital Library is mainly links to different collections with the name of the image/manscript/video and so on.
The collection of digital images present within the library is varied, but not vast. You really can't get an idea of how much there is that isn't digitized. This area is a bit weak as it's hard to get a scope of what else is out there.
The target audiences for the Southeast Asia Digital Library are students and professors specializing in Asian Studies, and maybe the occasional Asia enthusiast, like me!
The Guggenheim's online collectionconsists of about 700 of the 7,000 works in the museum's permanent collection. The online collection is described as the highlights of the Guggenheim's collection. The pieces in the online collection are "designed to reflect the breadth, diversity, and tenor" of the collections at the museum's four locations around the world. The site also states that they are continually expanding the online collection to better mirror their actual collection.
Each image has metadata for the title, artists, creation date, medium and physical location of the piece. Additionally, each object is augmented by three to four paragraphs concerning the context of the piece, the author and/or the work itself. The text is designed for the average museum goer and resembles the explanatory text that might be seen next to a piece in an actual museum.
Clicking on an image provides the user with a popup window containing a larger view of it as well as a series of thumbnails of other work by the same artist when applicable. Clicking on any thumbnail brings up a larger view of that image, but when the window is closed, the viewer is still on the original page. Even in their largest form, the images are not large enough for incredibly close inspection. They are, however large enough to see the artwork easily.
Based on the presentation and treatment of the artwork it seems that the Guggenheim's audience is the same group of people who might visit their physical locations, though providing the works online will allow them to reach those who are not able to visit the physical location of a particular piece of art.
The presentation of this collection is interesting, because it's still in the middle of being processed! Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss donated the papers and archives of their record label to UCLA in 2006. The collection consists of 187 boxes of album art, personal/business correspondence, and promotional materials from 1962-1989. Currently, the main page presents the visitor with highlights from the collection, organized as a 'timeline' of the record label. Little or no metadata is presented in this portion of the website. If the item being presented is a photograph, for example, the people in it will be listed along with the date (though some are dateless, too), but no information regarding the format of the original image is given.
A finding aid for the collection is also linked from the main page, listing items from the collection that are currently being processed. More detailed metadata is presented here, but this isn't a digital archive... no images! The site doesn't detail exactly what's going to happen with the collection, but I would assume this website is just the first step in a large scale digitization project. As more items are processed and uploaded, maybe a different structure will be set up. The site as it is now could still stand as an introduction to the collection, but the ability to search through individual items (with proper metadata) would make this site more useful to people interested in researching the history of A&M records.
As it stands now, I suppose the purpose of this site is to drum up interest in the project, perhaps to go after more funding (or placate current donors). Rather than being a digital version of the archives, it's more of a chronicling of the process itself, albeit with some historical narrative regarding the label. All in all, it isn't the best example of a digital archive (if it is at all, which is debatable), but it is a unique look at digital archiving.
Hosted by the New York Public Library, this digital collection showcases the history of Native American Portraiture through a set of photographs, studies, and paintings currently in the library’s possession. The collection is divided into 10 sub series, representing genre, form, or image origin.
The origins of the physical collection are discussed in the exhibit introduction. Dr. Wilberforce Eames, a former librarian and bibliographer with the NYPL purchased and donated a portion of the collection. Additionally, some funding came from J.P. Morgan. The online exhibit “draws upon” a physical exhibit presented in 1994, though it is not clear what the selection criteria were at that time, or in the present online exhibit.
The digital object presents advantages over the physical object. For example, the image can be resized, magnified, and rotated. Additionally, the object can be purchased as a print. One of the perceived weaknesses is the structure of the image-viewing tool. It is a bit clumsy. The zoom feature forces the object to refresh in order to be enlarged or reduced. The image cannot be “moved” smoothly, as any change must also be refreshed, which is time consuming. As such, the collection principle for supporting future and current use has not been observed, since this feature appears outdated compared to some other more sophisticated manipulations available in other digital collections. However, the quality of metadata will likely facilitate updates and future preservation of these digital objects, since they are well organized and easily retrievable.
The audience for the collection seems to be the general public.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia has digitized most of their physical collection, although it is not clear exactly what percentage of their three million objects are accessible through the digital collection search engine. The site lacks any indication for why they have digitized the collection, or portions of it, although they devote a substantial amount of space on their “about” page to vague support of educational programs. There are twelve categories based on the physical space and characteristics of the objects including weapons, machines and tools, sculpture, paintings, and decorative arts.
There is no clear curatorial presence associated with the collection, although IMB appears to have supported a large portion of the digitization effort. There are several sections written about the type of imaging technology IBM developed and used with the Hermitage Museum, most specifically their Image Creation Studio. The digitization was begun in 1997, but there was no indication if the effort continues or is now static.
Each object is surrounded on three sides by metadata and search options. On the left is a “quick search” box where a visitor can type in key words. Below that are “browse”, “QBIC searches”, and “advanced search”. Browse allows visitors to search by the twelve categories, advanced lets the visitor choose from drop down menus different values for physical type; time period; and geography, including city in some cases. There are two values for physical type, one is the broad category such as “paintings, prints, and drawings” that then narrows into “paintings”, “drawings”, or “miniatures”. After this the city, time, region, style, European stylistic school, and genre are only some of the possible ways to further narrow a search.
Underneath the image are directions for the zoom function. There is only one level of zoom but provided directions seems to indicate the collection creators assumed a very low level of technological expertise from their projected audience. Below these directions is information including the conventional title, date, origin, creator (if known), and “source entry” which provides the place and date where the above information was agreed upon. There is no further data on how, or who made the decision that the more traditional metadata is correct, but it is an interesting attempt at a piece of information rarely made accessible.
The right side of the object has a button for moving through the collection, the number of ‘best fit’ matches for the search terms, and some mildly confusing digital qualities (“600x600 screen resolution”). There is also a “similarity search” where the visitor can look for likeness in physical attributes, objects from the same region, and time period.
One of them most interesting aspects of this collection are the QBIC searches which allow the visitor to look for 2-dimensional objects by color, and 3-dimension objects by color and shapes. The searches are not perfect, some color searches do not have any results, but the interface for using the QBIC is very easy and there are tutorials located on the right of each search capability.
Some of the information, or metadata, provided with each image seems contradictory in terms of guessing at the predicted audience. The directions for zooming and searching indicate a assumed low education or low technological expertise of the user, while the ‘about’ page contains very specific names and data specifications for the digitization software. the presence of the IBM corporation indicates that this digitization project was sponsored for publicity, philanthropic, or as testing environment for new digitization software, and my concern with this is that IBM may have lost interest in the project. If this is the case it is regrettable because the collection and searching functions are sophisticated and easy to use.
Henry Bracton was a 13th-century English judge who wrote a comprehensive treatise outlining and explaining the whole of English law at the time. Harvard keyed his On the Laws and Customs of England from both the original Latin manuscript and a 20th-century English translation of it, making it available in a frames-based web page. The text is searchable by keyword, and the Latin and English versions can be compared side by side. However, images of the actual manuscript are limited to three thumbnails on the project's homepage, making it difficult for any scholars wishing to study the original physical document to do so; it's unspecified why this is the case. It may be due to the fragility of the original document, but if that's the case, why even do three scans?
Parts of the manuscript have been tagged by the house hired to key in the manuscript, which, as the homepage puts it, limits the tags to things people unfamiliar with the work could easily identify. Harvard did this in order to save on production costs, and they believe the tagging is sufficient for most work. The manuscripts are now under copyright of Harvard and its partner institutions, Yale and Cornell Law School.
This might be a good resource for historians interested in medieval law or England, or scholars of jurisprudence in general.
Butterflies North and South
The Canadian Museum of Nature co-sponsors along with The Provincial Museum of Alberta, Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN), Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, Museo La Salle, and the Insectarium de Montréal this virtual butterfly exhibit. It seems to be based on a book, The Butterflies of Canada.. The site provides links to their Gallery, Gardening, Conservation, Questions and answers, Amateur Corner, Glossary, Teachers and Games. There is a wonderful list of additional links to Clubs/Associations/Federations, Conservation, Gardening, General, Institutions, Monarch Butterfly, Moth, Products and Services, Resources as well as a page of credits and acknowledgements.The site was established in 1999 and doesn't seem to have had any updates since.
The Gallery of photographs is quite small. The links on each page seem to take you to whatever page you want easily. The only metadata provided is the name of the photographer along with a description of the butterfly, no real data about the photo itself. It would be nice to have additional information such as the location of the photograph, the time of year, along with some features to zoom in for a closer look, and to be able to see the butterfly from all sides.
Collection Principles: There is an expansive bibliography and credits page providing acknowledgement, but the only mention of a collection policy was a statement that the images and information could not be reproduced. I would think that the site would maintains the same collection policy as the museum itself or one of the other museums, but nothing is mentioned. The web site does state in the acknowledgements, the following disclaimer “We owe many aspects of the Canadian section of the Web site to the work by Ross Layberry, Peter Hall and Don Lafontaine, notably their recent book, The Butterflies of Canada. In addition, Peter Hall and Don Lafontaine, of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, provided us with photographs and editorial content. In creating this site, we never intended to produce a Web version of this authoritative book, but rather to provide an introduction to Canadian Lepidoptera, for both butterfly lovers and teachers. A pilot project is under way to develop an online database on Canadian Lepidoptera. When this is completed, a link to the site will be provided.”
The intended audience would be nature lovers, gardeners, butterfly enthusiast, butterfly photographers as well as young school children.
The Atlas database currently contains 35,000 works-98% of the museum’s exhibits, distributed are as follows:
-Near Eastern Antiquities: 5777
-Islamic Art: 1283
-Egyptian Antiquities: 4851
-Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: 6099
-Decorative Arts: 6613
-Prints and Drawings: 113
-Medieval Louvre and History of the Louvre: 136
Online consultation allows visitors access the basic information displayed on labels accompanying works in the museum, together with authoritative commentary and analysis by the curators and staff. However, the explanatory texts in the database are currently available in French only.
Online visitors could carry out simple or advanced searches by keyword, artist, title, inventory number, medium, technique, department or room. It meets the needs of users at different level. Furthermore, Atlas allows visitors to create a personalized album. When printed, the selected works are grouped by location within the museum (wing and floor number).
Simple search is convenient to those visitors who might not have specific purpose but just randomly search. Visitors could start the searching with artists’ names or works’ names and choose numbers of works displayed per page. The pages comes out with the thumbnails of the works and relevant information such as artist, title, location as well as department information are associated with the thumbnails. Visitors could learn more details about an individual work by clicking the thumbnail. For example, there is a visual illustration of the work’s actual location at Louvre. Visitors have a chance to see the works closely via a pop-out window but are not allowed to scroll through the images. Further, there’s another chance for visitors to get close to the images, they pre-set the images in parts and visitors could click the names of the parts. That is all what a visitor could do with the image.
As Louvre is the most famous museum in the world, its online database, as I see, should be given the same reputation. It is user-friendly, and provides the possibility of online tour to worldwide patrons. The metadata is benefit and if they have English version on the explanation, it would be much friendly.
This archive is a joint project between Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price of (respectively) the University of Iowa and the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. These men could be called experts on Whitman, having recently co-written his biography, and they have included (or plan to include) all of the information and resources available to them. It is intended to be used as a resource for teaching and research of the vast written works of Whitman, including the 6 variations of Leaves of Grass.
The Technical Summary under the About Us heading gives complete details of the milestones and the intentions of this site as it changes but remains accessible over time. The authors are loyal to XML and EAD and have the most explicit and thorough encoding guidelines I have ever seen on a digital archive (even if it did ask me for a password a hundred times before I got to see it). There is also extensive management and curatorial information under the same heading in their Archvie Changelog.
Each typed poem saw has one or two images its original form; either the page in the book from which it was copied or the crowded periodical page with a separate zoomed and cropped image of Whitman's poem. The zoom is standard, but they are in the process of updating the zoom for all images on the site. The images are almost all under copyright, so they suggest that permission be sought before publishing any of the photographs or images of texts, but all of Whitman's words are out of copyright, as are many of the criticism on the site. Because there are biographies, manuscripts, published books/periodical publishings, criticism (new and old), letters, resources in external links and media all available on one site, the copyright laws are addressed simply and explicitly under About Us and linked in FAQs.
I had difficulty with the media from the beginning. My browser (Firefox) doesn't support the image zoom from the Archive website, however there is a working link to UNL's digital archive of Whitman photos. There is a 36-second clip of Whitman reading "America" available on the site but, again, it didn't work with my browser.
The search feature is more powerful than I would have expected. The custom Google search looks through every word of text on the site and returns results that are labeled and able to be refined by the different sections of the site. Within every written work there are several editorial footnotes that connect certain words, proper nouns, and phrases with other information (be it a reference to a previous letter, inspiration for a later work, or more information about a person or place). This site has undergone scholarly editing with exact citations and references. When certain metadata is unknown, they will speculate an educated guess.
The most interesting feature is the typed manuscript. Part of their future endeavors involve completing the digitization of images of his manuscripts, but often it is difficult to discern actual english in the script of a poet, so the typed manuscript offers an interesting perspective. It will be more valuable for research, however, when linked with the image.
Monday, February 16, 2009
National Museum of Poznan hosts several photo galleries of paintings in their collection. Because the museum is made up of several branches, the images on this site represent only a sample of their entire holdings. The gallery works well for a museum page as it gives readers an idea of the kinds of work in their collection. As one of the oldest cities in Poland, the museum's collection is one of the most important in the country.
The museum has divided the images into collections based on time period and form (Gallery of Antique Art, Gallery of Medieval Art, Gallery of Polish Art 16th-18th Centuries, Gallery of Polish Art 18th-20th Centuries, Gallery of Contemporary Art, Gallery of Foreign Painting, Print Room, Gallery of Poster and Design). Each collection features 5 to 25 images which have been chosen as representative of these genres.
In many ways, this is a nice way for a museum to showcase their exhibits without allowing people to see everything they own. They also do a nice job of explaining the background of each collection and some of the themes you will see in each category. The display itself could be better. When you click on an image to see a larger version you are only given the title of the work and the artist. You may find more information about a painting in their description of the collection but for the most part you are only given those two pieces of metadata. The images open in a pop-out window which allows you to see them more clearly but you are not given the ability to scroll through the images or click a next button to progress through the images.
It's an interesting way for museums to show a selection of their collection in order to educate the public and hopefully to lure patrons in to see the rest of the museum. The images could certainly benefit from more metadata and a more user-friendly interface but it is a nice start to a digital collection.