Perian Sully is working with Balboa Park Online Collaborative (BPOC), which is a group of 27 organizations located in Balboa Park, San Diego, California. She is responsible for digitization of objects, placing those collections online (either on the organization’s website and/or Flickr) and implementing a DAMS (Digital Asset Management System). Combining all images in one location has allowed BPOC staff easier access to images and their corresponding metadata.
Digitizing Prior to BPOC
Some museums have completed some photographing of collections in a haphazard way (for exhibitions, photograph sale orders, etc). Each museum and individual within those museums had a different way of digitizing. Perian is working on reusing these images rather than starting over from scratch depending on the resolution, etc. of the image by creating a repository of all the images and is helping staff evaluate what can and shouldn’t be used in an online collection.
Flickr Commons and BPOC Institutions
San Diego Air and Space Museum and the Museum of Photographic Art are both members of Flickr Commons. Each museum has gone about incorporating user ‘tags’ in a different way. The Air and Space Museum has 104,000 images, which means they are not able to handle all responses and the archivist adjusts the catalog when he can. The Museum of Photographic Art has 500+ images in comparison, which allows the registrar to change the catalog and update Flickr more often. Having a smaller collection is easier to update than trying to update tags all the time.
Staff versus Demand
There is more demand from the organizations involved to have their collections available online; however there are two staff members (Perian and an assistant) that attempt to digitize items from the different organizations. One of the scanning stations travels around the Park, which allows organization staff and/or interns to help with the digitization of items. While having other staff and interns help when they can, it lessen the load on Perian and her assistant, but it makes me wonder how often they go back to double check the digital items and/or metadata entries to make sure it was done correctly.
Some strategies that Perian and her team have implemented to help make the digitizing easier for everyone include having automated metadata that can be accessed through each organization’s database, and building in ways to streamline the process of digitizing, uploading, etc. without relying on Perian or other staff.
What is Coming Next?
Dana asked Perian what she thought would be next for the online collection database. While not new to the online community, Perian believes that museums (depending on what the technology will require) is semantic web search results. The example Perian used was Amazon’s “If you like this, than you should like this” browse bar. Online museum collections that make suggestions like this and provide the option of sharing your “lists” will probably be one of the next things considered by museum staff that deal with online collections.
Listen to the interview
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