VRA 2014 Back to Basics, Elia

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Presented by Marie Elia at the Annual Conference of the Visual Resources Association, March 12-15, 2014 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Session #6: Back to Basics — Cataloging Workflows and Solutions ORGANIZER/MODERATOR: Jennifer Kniesch, Dickinson College
PRESENTERS:
• Marie Elia, Warhol Museum
• Vicki Sipe, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
• Kelly Smith, Lafayette College
• Shalimar Fojas White, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection

Sometimes the abyss of cataloging can leave some of us questioning, searching, harvesting, and questioning more. In this session you’ll hear from four professionals who will provide their step-by-step procedures for cataloging: from how analog and digital assets are cataloged to uploading assets in a Digital Asset Management System. We will hear about the speakers’ institutional projects, pitfalls and triumphs in cataloging, and the cost of trying to make cataloging work. Each speaker will present on their topic and time will be left at the end of the session for Q&A.

Marie Elia will provide details on how The Warhol Museum uses a combination of cataloging standards (analog and digital) to accommodate an art collection that is composed of archival materials, as well as the Warhol’s Content Management System. Vicki Sipe will discuss her step-by-step collaborative cataloging process involving University of Maryland’s Baltimore County Special Collections and University of Maryland’s Baltimore County Bibliographic and Metadata Services using historic image collections as examples. Shalimar Fojas White will explain how she and her team are currently migrating records out of legacy databases and into a new Content Management System, that is being developed with a VRA Core template. Kelly Smith will describe how Shared Shelf fits into the workflow of day to day cataloging for Lafayette College's Visual Resources Collection and how it is being explored as an option for other digital projects and needs across campus. Is there a best workflow and can we find a solution for our respective institutions?

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  • The Time Capsules collection is a small, but unique, part of a huge, mostly unprocessed collection of over 8,000 cubic feet.
    The Archives includes scrapbooks, art supplies and materials, audio tapes, photographs, a nearly complete run of Interview magazine, his library; decorative art objects, clothing, and over thirty of his wigs.
  • Accessioned, whole—largely unseen—as artwork in the permanent collection (1998)
    Housed in archives under curatorial direction of the Chief Archivist
  • February 2008-December 2013
  • Three full-time project catalogers:
    All MLIS graduates with cataloging and/or archives training
    Direct supervisor is the Registrar, with curatorial direction by the Chief Archivist
    “Army” of interns
    All current MLIS students
    Early in the project, we took new interns each semester; by the last 3 years, we had students placed with us for three consecutive semesters.
  • 90 of the TCs had been minimally processed in order to write the grant.
    That 400-500 average is LOW; I’ve processed boxes with over 1,000 items.
  • There is no original order; items are just “thrown” into the boxes.
    Paper items are often bent.
    Liquid and unstable items are mixed in with valuable and easily-damaged materials.
  • Sorting one TC box can take a whole day, depending on how densely packed it is.
    It can be difficult to decide whether to classify based on format or content.
  • “Anything that’s not nailed down”: Anything that’s not attached to something else gets a number.
    Each paper clip gets a number.
    We do not remove staples, as they are original to the artwork.
  • A DACS-compliant finding aid is written in Word for each TC.
    Every object is described in the Physical Description.
  • We did create box-level records for each TC, in Gallery Systems’ The Museum System.
    TMS is excellent for artwork; it required some tweaking for archives. (More later.)
  • What comes out must go back in: The TC is an artwork consisting of the items that were inside, so everything goes back in.
    We create enclosures or wrap objects to protect them.
  • The [acidic] cardboard box is part of the artwork, so we keep it.
    We do not remove the objects to traditional archival storage.
  • Each TC retains its original form, albeit organized and protected.
    Anyone who opens a TC will find all of the items that Andy put in there.
  • The TCs are not like other archival collections: They are like little sculptures.
    There is correspondence and photographs and printed material, but there is also … food, fingernails, dishes…. Even a mummified foot!
  • Of the 610 boxes, only 90 had been opened before the cataloging project started.
    This means that we developed our process and workflow (including a controlled vocabulary) before seeing what was inside.
    Normally, you would assess all materials in a collection before beginning processing. Surprise!
  • Some archival collections are cataloged at the item-level, but most are not. Because each TC item is a component of an artwork, each must be accounted for, particularly with an accession number.
    We used the Getty’s Art and Architecture Thesaurus to choose a set number of series to apply to all items in the TC collection.
    The Warhol already used TMS for the rest of its collection, so that’s what we used for the TCs, rather than something like Archivist’s Toolkit.
    Although the terms came from AAT, the structure of the intellectual organization is based on archival processing, using series and subseries.
    We created DACS-compliant finding aids, which would be familiar to researchers.
    Our conservation and preservation practices were in line with best practices across disciplines; the museum’s conservator often stepped in to help us with particularly damaged items.
    Our TMS records included Dublin Core terms as well as LC Subject Headings and Name Authority Files.
  • Because each TC stays “intact,” we needed a way to collocate items within one box and across boxes.
    The accession numbers (for example, TC308.45) would unite items from the same box.
    The series terms would unite items across the collection; for example, you could search for all photographs from the collection by using the series “Photographic Material.”
  • We realized early on that too many series would be unhelpful, so we limited our vocabulary to 22 terms, some broader than others, some more well-represented than others.
  • The sub-series, however, were chosen to be as specific as possible.
    This flattened, two-level hierarchy was used because TMS allows for a “category” (our “series”) and “object name heading” (our “sub-series”).
  • An example:
    Andy’s wigs go under the broad series term “Costume/Personal Accessories.”
    The most specific term is “Wigs,” which becomes the sub-series.
  • Our sub-series terms are narrower terms under the broader heading, paralleling the structure of the AAT terms, but flattening the hierarchy.
  • The finding aid is written in Word, with DACS elements.
  • A record is created in TMS, which uses a different set of metadata.
  • We had to crosswalk the DACS elements to TMS fields to create structured metadata for the collection.
  • For example:
    Some fields are easy, like provenance or dates or title.
    The series represented in attributes.
    The front matter from a traditional DACS finding aid is incorporated as best we can into other fields.
    In the detail from the Physical Description field, we pasted the entire finding aid, from Descriptive Summary on down.
  • A report was written in TMS using the Physical Description field to generate what looks like a traditional finding aid, to provide to researchers.
  • Which, is the main goal! Making the collection open for research, exhibition, outreach, and education!
    The TCs travel all over the world, and some of them are always on display at the museum.
    We used TC items for events, incorporated them into exhibitions, and worked with our education department to use the TCs to help provide a unique learning experience for visiting school groups.
    Mostly, we had fun with them! It’s a weird collection, and we embraced that!
  • VRA 2014 Back to Basics, Elia

    1. 1. The Time Capsules Cataloging Project The Andy Warhol Museum Marie Elia Andy Warhol, Time Capsule 44, 1890-1973, photo by R. Stoner, © Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts VRA32 |Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows and Solutions March 13, 2014
    2. 2. The Andy Warhol Museum Pittsburgh, PA Opened in 1994 Largest single-artist museum in the United States Carnegie Institute (Pittsburgh) Dia Art Foundation (NYC) Andy Warhol Foundation (NYC) Image via Flickr user calamity_hane under Creative Commons license VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014)
    3. 3. Archives Collection VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014)
    4. 4. • Archives as Art • Housed in archives • Accessioned as artwork The Time Capsules VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014) Image courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum
    5. 5. Structure of the Time Capsules Cataloging Project • Grant-funded • 6 years VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014)
    6. 6. Time Capsules Cataloging Project Staff Photo by Joshua Franzos for Carnegie Magazine, 2012 VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014) Three full-time project catalogers: “Army” of MLIS student interns:
    7. 7. 610 Time Capsules Average 400-500 items per box Roughly 300,000 items total Cataloging & Processing Plan VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014) Andy Warhol, Time Capsule 21, exterior, courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum
    8. 8. Overview of Cataloging / Processing Workflow VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014) • Unpack box and assess immediate preservation needs
    9. 9. Overview of Cataloging / Processing Workflow VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014) • Sort materials into series and subseries • Order materials within series and subseries (chronologically, alphabetically, etc.)
    10. 10. Overview of Cataloging / Processing Workflow VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014) • Apply accession numbers to each object
    11. 11. • Describe each object • Prepare DACS-compliant finding aid Overview of Cataloging / Processing Workflow VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014)
    12. 12. • Create a box-level record for each TC in TMS (content management system) Overview of Cataloging / Processing Workflow VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014)
    13. 13. Overview of Cataloging / Processing Workflow • Place items in folders or other appropriate enclosures and pack back into box VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014)
    14. 14. The Time Capsules collection will never look like this: Image courtesy of University at Buffalo Libraries Overview of Cataloging / Processing Workflow VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014)
    15. 15. 610 mini- collections: Overview of Cataloging / Processing Workflow VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014)
    16. 16. Cataloging Challenges: Many Object Types All images on this slide courtesy The Andy Warhol Museum VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014)
    17. 17. Cataloging Challenges: Mystery boxes! VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014) Andy Warhol, © Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Photo by Lauren Ober for NPR
    18. 18. Museums Converging Standards Archives ▪ Item-level cataloging ▪ Intellectual organization (series) ▪ Controlled vocabulary (AAT) ▪ Content standard (DACS) ▪ Conservation & preservation practices ▪ Metadata schema (Dublin Core) Libraries ▪ Controlled vocabulary (LCSH & LCNAF) ▪ Content management system (TMS) ▪ Documentation (finding aid) VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014) Developing a Cataloging Workflow
    19. 19. Series Accession Numbers Time Capsule 21 © Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014) Developing a Cataloging Workflow
    20. 20. Percentages are an estimate 22 Controlled Vocabulary Terms for 300,000+ Objects Correspondence Artwork Costume/Personal Accessories VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014) Developing a Cataloging Workflow
    21. 21. “Unlimited” Sub-series VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014) Developing a Cataloging Workflow
    22. 22. Series: Costume/Personal Accessories Subseries: Wigs VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014) Image courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum Developing a Cataloging Workflow
    23. 23. VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014) Developing a Cataloging Workflow
    24. 24. Final Product: DACS-Compliant Finding Aid VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014)
    25. 25. Final Product: Box-Level Record in TMS VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014)
    26. 26. Crosswalking DACS Elements to TMS Fields DACS element = TMS field Title [DACS 2.3] = Object Title Dates [DACS 2.4] = Date Extent [DACS 2.5] = Dimensions Creator [DACS 2.6; 9] = Constituent / Primary Maker Scope of Collection [DACS 3.1] = Text Entries / Scope & Content Note Language [DACS 4.5] = Text Entries / Language Notes Repository [DACS 2.2] & Acquisition Information [DACS 5.2] = Credit Line Custodial History [DACS 5.1] = Provenance Access Terms [DACS 12,13,14] = Attributes Detailed Description and Container List = Physical Description Notes [DACS 7] “Conservation Notes” [DACS 7.1.3] = Object Condition “Separation Notes” [DACS 7.1.8] = Text Entries / Separation Notes “Processing Notes” [DACS 7.1.8] = Text Entries / Processing Notes “Discard Notes” [DACS 7.1.8] = Text Entries / Discard Notes VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014)
    27. 27. Crosswalking DACS Elements to TMS Fields VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014)
    28. 28. Crosswalking DACS Elements to TMS Fields VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014)
    29. 29. Our Ultimate Goal: Get the TCs out there! VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014) Image © 2004 CARNEGIE magazine Photo by Lucia Aguirre Photo by Lauren Ober for NPR Image courtesy The Andy Warhol Museum
    30. 30. Thank you! Questions? Marie Elia Processing Archivist Poetry Collection, University at Buffalo eliam@buffalo.edu Twitter: @marieelizabeth VRA 32 | Session 6: Back to Basics: Cataloging Workflows & Solutions (March 13, 2014)

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