Thursday, March 26, 2009

The University ALbUM is a digital collection of images taken at or related to the University of Maryland, dating from the late 1800s to the early 2000s. It came about as a result of a flood of requests for pictures for the University's 150th anniversary, and is only a small sampling of the materials within the University of Maryland Photo Archives.

While they do not explicitly state why they chose to digitize what they did, there is an ample description of the history of the project which lists all the sources of the images (if they did not belong to the UofM Photo Archives) and details how the project started on an internal database before it was migrated into a public digital repository. The project is obviously curated, and those who created it admit that it is nowhere near the entire collection. They end the "about" section with a promise to digitize more in the future, but I cannot tell if this has happened because there is no digitization date in the metadata. The collection is interoperable, with a dedicated link underneath each picture.

As far as content metadata, the collection excels: each image has, beyond the basic name, date and photographer, several headings including publication place and temporal, geographical and Topical subjects. Each of these headings has keywords listed underneath and all keywords are searchable. This makes searching for a specific image much easier as the keywords look more or less thorough for describing the image. There is also a field for collection and repository to help in physical location. Beyond that there is not a ton of metadata; a field exists for copyright but if is not UofM it is usually unknown.

The objects themselves are zoomable to 5 degrees, and have a unique identifier which is a URLbut is not the objects URL within the collection, interestingly enough. There is not much in the way of provenance or authenticity, save for the copyright and short history provided in the about section. The objects are interoperable, as stated earlier.

I suspect this collection is mostly used by alumni of UofM looking to relive the glory days or possibly by a scholar searching for a specific image through the robust search keyword function.

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