Wednesday, April 1, 2009

University of Wisconsin Galapagos Collection

The University of Wisconsin's Galapagos collection contains documents and pictures from Ecuador. The University is one of 3 locations that have been given permission by the Ecuadorian government to have these materials, making the collection rare and worth preserving. It is unclear whether the online collection contains all of the photographs or just a select group from the collection.
The photographs can easily be searched by keyword, title or some other attribute, and an advanced search feature is easily accessible to users. A few subject searches I ran for things such as "turtle" came back without any results though there were clearly images of turtles in the system, revealing that the search is not as good as it could be.
Each image in the collection can be viewed in three different sizes (small, medium and large) and metadata is provided on the same page. Metadata includes fields such as the title, photographer, date, place, time, description, type, subject, is part of, rights, submitter, and a local identifier. Some fields, such as subject, place and submitter are links to other items with the same field entries.
The images themselves appear to be mostly photographs taken in the field in Ecuador to supplement the papers and scientific studies of the natural ecosystem there. The largest version of the photographs is big enough to see the subject, but not big enough to be the largest version they could have placed on the site. The reasons for their decisions about the images and their sizes is unclear.
The site seems to be geared toward academic researchers who might be interested in the work done in Ecuador. IT could also serve people with a mild curiosity but the interface is too cumbersome to hold their attention for long.

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