The American Museum of NaturalHistory Special Collections Practicum by Jack Weiss Dean Tula Giannini LIS 698-01
Origins of the Image Database• Shortly after its founding in 1869, AMNH began accumulating images made by its scientist and explorers. They photographed their missions, as well as the lands and peoples around them.• Albert Bickmore, AMNH founder, was an enthusiastic proponent of visual education.
Growth of Photographic Collection• By end of 19th century, AMNH had a 140,000 lantern slide lending library for NYC schools. This began trend to “go beyond the Museum’s walls”• Currently, the Photographic Collection has about 1.5 million images in all formats. Originals are kept in 7-story climate controlled archive• To build internal support for digitization projects, Library staff produced a 50 image print- on-demand book distributed to AMNH Trustees in Jan. 2007
NY METRO Library Council• In 2007, AMNH secured a grant from NY METRO and created its first digitization project, Picturing the Museum: Education and Exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History.• This 989 image website was a showcase for the Photographic Collection and the prototype for the Image Database.
NY METRO Grant• Enabled cataloger and scanning technician to be hired• Enabled equipment to be purchased: Epson Perfection V750-M Pro flatbed scanner, MAC Pro work station, Eizo CG211: ColorEdge Color Calibration LCD Monitor w/hood, and Eye One Calibration Hardware
Sources of Image Metadata• Mellon Foundation grant funded digitization of typed logbooks, negative envelopes, and photo print file cards.• All data was “triple-keyed” by hand (outsourced) to compare and eliminate errors.• This produced 186,000 “legacy records”
Cataloging Procedures & Metadata Documentation• The Descriptive Data Fields were formed according to DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard)• Mapped to Dublin Core• Syntax Rules for ‘new caption’ field based on VRA Core Element Description were designed to be brief and descriptive
Descriptive Fields Used• Drop-Down Menus: Format, Original Photographer, Copy Photographer, Artist, Department/Discipline, Subj ect Heading• Drop-down menus used for ease and consistency• Fill-ins: Caption title, Date, Geographic Location (repeatable), Institution, Permanent Hall, Expedition, Cultural Context, Cataloger’s Notes (seen only in Administrative Interface)
My Internship Role• Edit Metadata• Save Original Caption & Source Data• Write New Caption, descriptive and brief, eliminate any “culturally insensitive” terms• Complete fill-in and drop-down menu selections using Authority Files (various AMNH Departmental databases, LC Authorities, TGN)
Workflow• Work of interns editing metadata reviewed by Visual Resource Librarian• If approved, work sent to Head Archivist for review in batches of 100 images• If approved by Head Archivist, available for on- line viewing; “culturally insensitive” images are suppressed and available only to researchers at AMNH
Omeka CMS Virtues• Good points: easy to install, easy to learn and use.• Over a dozen plug-ins available• Dublin Core is default Metadata Set• Tagging is easy• It’s open source (free)
Omeka CMS Drawbacks• Endless scrolling within a record• If one moves to another tab without hitting ‘Save Changes’ risk of loss of new data; no warning from Omeka• Not designed to handle large volume collection
Digital Migration to new CMS?• AMNH might acquire LUNA• LUNA is a proprietary CMS• Annual Licensing fee; fee for 24/7 maintenance/support• Source data unavailable – customization handled by LUNA for a fee• Easy to create different interface templates• Can offer streaming video• Features searchable text• Handles large volume collection easily
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