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VRA 2012, Cataloging Case Studies, Cataloging in the Cloud

VRA 2012, Cataloging Case Studies, Cataloging in the Cloud



Presented by Elizabeth Berenz and Ann Burns at the Annual Conference of the Visual Resources Association, April 18th - April 21st, 2012, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. ...

Presented by Elizabeth Berenz and Ann Burns at the Annual Conference of the Visual Resources Association, April 18th - April 21st, 2012, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Cataloguing Case Studies session will explore metadata migration, workflows, cloud computing, and tagging and how they can be applied to digital collections. Mary Alexander of the University of Alabama will present on the second of two migrations that have taken place at the University of Alabama Libraries and the importance of metadata schema and workflows in that process. Joshua Polansky of the University of Washington will describe his automated workflow using optical character recognition (OCR), Apple Automator, and Microsoft Excel to speed the process of collecting metadata for 75,000 digital assets. Elizabeth Berenz of ARTstor will look at the advantages of cloud based software for image management using Shared Shelf as a working example. And finally Ian McDermott will demonstrate the advantages of expert tagging and annotation in improving metadata. His presentation will focus on two ARTstor collections that could benefit from the knowledge of the larger ARTstor community: the Gernsheim Photographic Corpus of Drawings and the Larry Qualls Archive of contemporary art exhibitions.

Jeannine Keefer, University of Richmond, VA

Mary Alexander, University of Alabama
Elizabeth Berenz, ARTstor
Ian McDermott, ARTstor
Joshua Polansky, University of Washington



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  • The archaeological site considered as a whole, including the various instances of occupation, building and especially excavation, is of primary importance to the study of archaeology. This doesn’t always appear to differ very much from the study of architecture, except that the place of the site in the history of the area, the dates at which excavations take place, the levels at which finds are located and what those tell us about the timeline of human occupation are concepts that are not satisfactorily described by the VRA Core.  We felt that there must be a set of fields that would reflect the concepts that are of particular importance to the study of images of archaeology. We also hoped that we might discover a single set of fields that would cover all cases.
  • We rapidly discovered that we were optimistic in this hope. There are indeed several schemas that will categorize archaeology, but they have all been developed with a particular type of archaeology in mind, or to serve the discipline in a particular land area, such as the British Isles, or Greece. Some of the published conceptual models that we studied include: CIDOC Conceptual Resource Model (an ISO21127 standard), Cataloging Cultural Objects, MIDAS Heritage: UK Historic Environment Data Standard, DAACS: Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery, and LIDO: Lightweight Information Describing Objects or CIDOC Lite. The discipline suffers from an embarrassment of very specific riches. So we decided to create our own. We approached ARTstor and Shared Shelf with our concerns and found them extremely receptive to the idea of creating other methods of organizing data. Lucie talked with various experts concerned with cataloging archeological finds, sent emails to friends and colleagues, and did a lot of reading. I sent emails to colleagues in VRA, and talked with other catalogers, but it rapidly became apparent that nobody knew quite what to do about cataloging archaeology images.
  • Lucie and I sat down and tore the Shared Shelf fields apart and put them back together again. She provided the archaeological expertise, and I questioned her logic and made her clarify her thinking. We began by emphasizing the importance of the site as a whole, including the excavations conducted over time, over the objects found. Once we had something, we sent it out to other members of the first 25 Shared Shelf subscribers and to other scholars for feedback. We have also set some archaeology graduate students to catalog into the schema in the Shared Shelf demo, and are getting valuable information from this.
  • ARTstor and Shared Shelf are proving extremely patient and flexible in giving us the fields we need and the field order we need to make this work, both in the Shared Shelf cataloging screens and in the ARTstor information panel. With their help, the information can be entered at one end and is presented at the other in an order that makes sense.
  • In the meantime, news of our efforts in this direction is getting out. The University of Virginia owns a large collection of historical archaeology artifacts known as the Flowerdew Hundred collection, which were excavated over a period of years at a site near Hopewell, Virginia. These artifacts represent the occupation of the Hopewell site by Native Americans, English colonists, and African-Americans from the 17th and 18th centuries, and are currently housed near Charlottesville at Morven Farm. The curators of the collection are extremely interested in using Shared Shelf to finally and permanently catalog their collections and display images of them for scholarly use. The distinct advantage of Shared Shelf is that it is cloud-based. Because the site is accessible through the web, it can be accessed anywhere there is a stable internet connection. It will not be necessary for the artifacts to be brought to the University Libraries to be photographed or cataloged; they can stay where they are and photographers and catalogers can do their work where the artifacts will remain safely stored. An archaeology standard will be of immeasurable help with this effort.
  • At this time we are in the process of applying for an NEH grant to turn our information and thought processes into a real standard for archaeology. We have proposed the Flowerdew Hundred collection as our testbed, along with the Robert L. Van Nice Collection of artifacts relating to Hagia Sophia, which is held by Dumbarton Oaks Research Library of Harvard University, in Washington, DC. Our hope is that we can develop a resource description framework for archaeology that will allow linked data to be prepared for this type of material, so we can truly share what we know. Even if the grant does not materialize, we intend to keep that goal in mind as we move forward.
  • The cloud-based nature of Shared Shelf has already been helpful in interesting ways. The ART-VRC in the Art Department at UVA, our main local Shared Shelf partner, has experimented with a Shared Shelf project for a graduate student in Art History, who is collecting study images for her dissertation. This will allow her to pursue her fieldwork in Italy, reference copies of her images, and add metadata relevant to her research without having to store the images and data on a computer that might be damaged or stolen in the field. When her dissertation is complete, she will be given an export of her data to add to her file of stored images and the project will be taken down.
  • In a somewhat similar fashion, Lucie will be able to use Shared Shelf as she does fieldwork in Greece this June. She can upload images of the potsherds she is studying and add data that will be safely stored and be available to scholars at UVA and in other places in real time, as well as to her when she returns.
  • We hope to use Shared Shelf as a platform for sharing not only the inputting of data on a local level, but eventually to share data as it is added with other institutions as well as among ourselves. We have had discussions with ARTstor about how this might be accomplished with regard to an Anthropology project that we are implementing with the University of California at San Diego. The UVa faculty member whose material it is will perform most of the metadata creation. Experts from UCSD will also add their expertise to the data stream, so that when the project is finished the material can be added to UCSD’s Melanesian Archive. The faculty member is also interested in pursuing means of allowing the subjects of her study in Melanesia to view the images of themselves through the site.
  • In addition, we are investigating ways of extracting the information and images added to Shared Shelf by means of scripting so that the owners as well as other users can use it to create other paths to these riches, through Omeka, Drupal, or Wordpress. Once images and data have been added to one database accessible from the cloud through the web, it should be possible to recombine this material in many exciting ways.
  • This concept of many different people in many different places contributing to the data about images is, we believe, the most exciting aspect of the Shared Shelf model. My personal expertise is in American architectural history, so I look forward to the prospect of having input from image specialists in other areas. Contributions can be made not only from across a single university but from across the country, or across the world.

VRA 2012, Cataloging Case Studies, Cataloging in the Cloud VRA 2012, Cataloging Case Studies, Cataloging in the Cloud Presentation Transcript

  • Cataloging in the Cloud:Shared Shelf andArchaeoCoreElizabeth Berenz, ARTstorAnn Burns, University of Virginia
  • Potsherds from ThebesPhotographed by Lucie Stylianopoulos, 2009
  • Lots of Documentation Models• CIDOC CRM: Conceptual Reference Model (ISO 21127)• CIDOC CRM Core• LIDO: Lightweight Information Describing Objects (CIDOC Lite)• DAACS: Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery• MIDAS: A Manual and Data Standard for Monument Inventories• SPECTRUM: Documentation Standard for Museums• ICOM AFRIDOC: Handbook of Standards Documenting African Collections• CDWA and CDWA Lite• CCO• VRA Core• CHIN Data Dictionaries• OBJECT ID
  • http://www2.lib.virginia.edu/exhibits/#flowerdew http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/jamesriver/flo.htm
  • http://www.doaks.org/ http://robertvannicearchive.wordpress.com/
  • Fresco with seatedwoman playing akithara (lyre)-- Roman LateRepublican, ca. 40-30BCE, MetropolitanMuseum of Art
  • Thebes Ephoreia worksite, Greece, Summer 2009 Photographed by Lucie StylianopoulosOpen vessel sherd, Venetianmarbleware, 16th c., House ofKadmos site, Thebes, GreecePhotographed by Lucie Stylianopoulos
  • Arnold Watiem, Papua New Guinea, 1998—photographed by Lise Dobrin
  • Earth with continent of Africa in view, Apollo-Saturn 17, December 1972 – UVa Library Kore Collection, ARTstor (NASA image)