My colleague, Sarah Gillis (Assistant Registrar, Image Management
Worcester Art Museum) and myself, are excited to announce, that we have been approved to contribute to a book chapter, for a publication called, "Digital Humanities and Libraries: Altered Domains of Partnerships, Questions, and Tools," published through Elsevier. Our research will compare how digital humanists access, retrieve and manage their digital assets for various projects in comparison to the role of cultural heritage institutions in providing those various digital assets.
We have developed a survey that will help us contextualize our empirical knowledge of image access and use in cultural heritage institutions. The survey consists of ten questions, and should not take more than 20 minutes to complete. We would very much appreciate your input and opinion on issues relating to image access and use in your discipline and work.
Link to survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PWWLWC3
For more context on our book chapter, we welcome you to read our proposal, provided below.
Thank you in advance,
Assistant Registrar, Image Management
Worcester Art Museum
Lecturer in Digital Curation at King’s College, London
Digital humanities (DH) scholarship has increased the demand for access to digital surrogates (referred to as digital objects going forward) produced by galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAMs). Online access portals play an essential role in providing DH scholars with access to the digital objects produced by GLAMs. The growing importance of online access to institutional holdings requires the development of strategies for the better understanding of end-user needs. This research will describe the role information professionals working in museum collections can play in maximizing the discovery and use of digital objects for DH scholarship. Particular focus will be given to the types of tools, practices and frameworks that provide access and permission to use digital objects. These assessments are not aimed at characterizing humanities scholars as unaware or uninterested in the functional elements (i.e. metadata) which underpin information access portals. Instead, we argue that it is more likely they are not familiar with the systems and frameworks that produce and provide access to digital objects. Disciplinary interests and knowledge require researchers to describe their use of digital objects in ways their peers will understand. In particular, art historians have niche research areas that allow them to explore and describe art and architecture in critical and interpretive ways. Expertise based in research can influence methods and strategies for searching and using digital objects. These methods and strategies may not overtly appear in curatorial statements or scholarly essays; however, they do influence what might be included in a digitally curated exhibition or project.
There is a body of literature that addresses tensions and challenges in providing metadata for art library and visual resource collections. Studies done by Fear (2010) and Roth-Katz (2005) show that information professionals (such as librarians) need to balance general search terms with discipline specific knowledge. Striking such a balance, researchers argue, increases the likelihood of users finding the items they need. What is missing from this body of literature, however, are assessments of museum collections that use digital objects for various purposes. There is a need, therefore, to examine digitization policies and procedures in museums in order to better understand how a broader range of information professionals (such as collection registrars) use metadata to facilitate access and use of collections. Reviewing levels of metadata creation offers an opportunity to examine how metadata supports the curation of digital objects. For instance, considering the needs influencing the creation of technical, administrative, descriptive and preservation metadata for digital objects, makes room for assessing metadata needs from multiple vantage points (i.e.an art historian and collection professionals).
The expertise gained through scholarship is vital; however, the disciplinary requirements expected of scholars limit how they describe the digital objects incorporated into their DH projects. These limitations present particular challenges for information professionals working in GLAMs as well as visual resource centers. This chapter will discuss methods information professionals, working directly with museum collections, can use to create meaningful systems for cataloguing, digitizing, and preserving digital objects. A description of access and use policies (such as copyright and image access) which promote effective digitization projects, will segue to a discussion of metadata practices and tools that better facilitate the management, use and reuse of digital objects. A detailed description of policies and standards for metadata creation and revision will frame the description of tools for embedded metadata. Describing the nature of embedded metadata will facilitate a discussion of methods for promoting access and use of digital objects produced by museums within DH projects. Overall, addressing the skills and knowledge information professionals can provide for the creation of metadata in museums will highlight an understated facet of interdisciplinary work taking place in GLAMs.