A WOLFSONIAN LIBRARY EXPERIMENT IN METADATA, DIGITIZATION, AND A POETRY SCAVENGER HUNT
For today’s blog post, I thought that I would do something a little out of the ordinary. Most of my posts begin with a reference to some VIP, scholarly, or student visit to the library.
After briefly describing the event, the post invariably uses that visitor’s research agenda or interests as a thinly veiled excuse to publish some images from The Wolfsonian-FIU library collection on that subject. And while, for the most part, this formula allows me to promote with some variety a few of the particular strengths of the Wolfsonian Library collection, it does not provide my readers with much of a sense of the incredible breadth of the collection and the nearly invisible or “behind the scenes” work is being done by the librarians in between these visits.
When the librarians and committed cadre of interns and volunteers are not pulling items for visitors and researchers, we spend much of our time creating authoritative Library of Congress subject headings, graphical descriptions, and metadata links for the bibliographic records in our OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog). To put that in plain English, we are enhancing our catalog records by adding subject headings that not only describe the general subject matter of a book, periodical, or other small format print material, but key words and dates that will enable a patron to find specific images normally buried within a larger work.
DR. NICOLAE HARSANYI CREATING METADATA LINKS FOR THE LIBRARY COLLECTION
For example, perhaps you are interested in finding an image of a butterfly or some other insect and are not particularly concerned about the historical or social context of the image. By embedding detailed subject and graphic material descriptors in the metadata (data about data) links to a record, a patrons can find every instance in which a butterfly appears—(in the design of the binding, chapter vignette, or decorative border)—even if the book or item itself has nothing to do with insects.
To test our work, I decided to try an experiment. Recently, one of my fellow librarians (and poet) Rochelle Pienn collaborated with our Digital Library Specialist (and art photographer) in their off hours on a broadsheet project melding her literary work with his visual art.
The idea inspired me to dig up and dust off an old poem I had composed some years ago. But rather than find a single image to capture the mood of the poem, I decided to see just how well our metadata work would hold up, and just how versatile the museum collection might prove in areas not likely to be tied to our collection strengths. Honing in on specific key words randomly chosen from the poem, I wanted to see if—using only The Wolfsonian museum’s object and library collections—I could produce a profusely illustrated poem. I will let, you the reader, decide how well the experiment worked, and further challenge you to participate in a scavenger hunt. You can access the poem at the link or image below:
Normally when a person passes their cursor over images included in my posts, the accession number (or unique alphanumeric code or identifier of the object) appears so that the reader might easily find the record of the item in our Digital Image Catalog (digital.wolfsonian.org) database that our Digital Assets Manager, Derek Merleaux has been working on. In this particular instance, I deliberately renamed (and in a few cases cropped) the images to make it difficult for you to find the item directly. My challenge to you is that you try to find the source of each and every image simply by typing in a keyword in the search mode of the Digital Image Catalog. A search such”miners,” for example, pulls up 19 entries (some with more than one image) which you can then sift through to find images used in the poem.
Perhaps in the search for the accession number of the items included in the poem, you may incidentally discover many more beautiful or interesting images and get a better sense of just how rich a mine the Wolfsonian Collection can be.
~ by "The Chief" on November 28, 2012.
Posted in decorative arts, interns, museums, photography, propaganda arts, volunteers, Wolfsonian, Wolfsonian library, Wolfsonian library collection, Wolfsonian Library volunteers, Wolfsonian museum library, Wolfsonian staff, Wolfsonian-FIU library
Tags: artifacts, Associate librarian, butterflies, cataloging, catalogs, Chief librarian, David Almeida, digital images, Digital library specialist, Dr. Nicolae Harsanyi, Francis Luca, illustrated poetry, images, library tours, metadata, Mother Earth, mothers and sons, moths, museum collections, objects, opacs, pine needles, poetry, rare books cataloguer, Rochelle Pienn, scavenger hunts, snow