Thursday, October 21, 2010

good example sites powered by Omeka

After perusing some of the many Omeka-powered sites, here are my thoughts.

Oh my goodness, I am in love with this site: Treasures of the NYPL! The simple-yet-full front page is great; it shows some of the collection images (one of them links to A.A. Milne's original stuffed animals, which were the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh!) and lists the main categories of collections, all while taking up very little screen real estate. The user can then choose to explore the rest of the site as he pleases. (I also like the breakdown and simplicity of this site: Making the History of 1989: The Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe.)

The Short History of Seed and Nursery Catalogues in Europe & the U.S. also stuck with me, mostly again for its great homepage. However, I also like how the site is organized, in a format which looks almost like a term paper and displays items chronologically. I'm not certain we could necessarily do a chronological series for our own project, but perhaps we could break down the victim memorials (I believe Molly has already mentioned this, as well) by tower location, birthplace, age, or something else entirely. We could also randomly rotate photographs on the front page so that all of the people are represented equally.

And I like this final page, Bibliothèque Numérique - Université Rennes 2, not only because it's French (yes, I'm partial to that language), but because it makes use of a lot of great Omeka plugins. It's neat to see tagging being used on this site, as well as geolocation. Again, I'm not sure if we could use something like geolocation, but it's good to see as much as we can of what is out there, and then we can decide as a class what is important to include.

I have to admit (and you've likely noticed) that I'm a sucker for an aesthetically pleasing site. Of course, the content is extremely important, but I don't think many are going to want to look at, much less navigate, a site which isn't clean and user-friendly - no matter how full of information it is. Therefore, I tend to lean towards an emphasis on the visuals of the website, particularly those of the front page (so we can draw people further into the site!).

reflections on week 1

The first class met last Saturday, and it was really quite a day. It was great to meet my classmates and hear about their past experiences, and why they were so interested in working in digital archiving. We come from very diverse backgrounds, and I feel like that will help us come at any difficulties from a variety of approaches, which I always appreciate.

Getting started with the customized Dublin Core elements was...well, I felt that it was at times difficult and a bit frustrating. We began our work with it by examining items that had already been archived by Omeka software and subsequently presented in digital archives all over the internet. From the start, we could see how spotty a lot of coverage of certain types of information was, which I originally took to be an issue with those who had taken on the task of archiving the materials. However, immediately we stumbled over confusion in distinguishing the difference between "Contributor" and "Owner" of the content, which never ended up feeling fully resolved, although we spoke quite lengthily on the topic. Additionally, a lot of the materials we looked at seemed to be missing a lot of information, which always frustrates me, because I want everything.

However, as we began our own work, uploading some digital artifacts from September 11 victims (which was quite emotionally draining work, to be honest - I hadn't realized how taxing it might be), I found the same frustrations with the materials which my partner and I were charged with uploading and tagging. We had a difficult time determining, for instance, what Format and what Type to give resources (or what the exact difference we between the two lables); this became a class-wide discussion. We also had to skip some fields entirely, which as a perfectionist I hated to do, but it was impossible to tell, for instance, what year some of the pictures had been taken. We did the best we could, but I now have a much better understanding for why archive documentation coverage must be so spotty at times. You can't just make things up; you can work only with what you are given.

One other thing I had difficulty with was deciding which of the hundreds of photographs and other materials to select for upload to the site. Given the time and opportunity, I'd have wanted to post them all! Who is to know which photograph or souvenir is the one the family finds most important to the memory of their loved one? Who is to say there even should be one that is more important than the others?? All of the materials have deep meaning to those left behind, and of course you want to memorialize every last scrap for the benefit of those who have lost someone - and in respect for the memory of those they have lost.

All in all, from my first day's worth of experience with it, I can confidently say that archiving is a frustrating experience and precarious balancing act. However, I do feel it can also be rewarding, especially when we can help others honor the memories of those dear to them. This project, I feel, will be a combination of frustration and heartache tempered with enthusiasm and patience and perseverance, knowing the good that is ultimately being done. I feel that everyone in this class has a sincere respect for the ideal of archiving, and for the project which we are working on.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

coming up

Starting this Saturday, October 16, I will be taking part in a LIS class offered by SCSU which will involve creating digital archives related to 9/11. We will be using an open-source program called Omeka, which was developed at GMU in 2008 for the purposes of archiving, with a focus on display. This blog will be solely dedicated to that project for the duration of the class.

Because I'm a geek, I was looking into the software we'll be using. It is, according to Wikipedia, written in PHP with a MySQL back end, and it uses an unqualified Dublin Core metadata standard. I looked further into Dublin Core, and saw that
Metadata records based on Dublin Core are intended to be used for cross-domain information resource description and have become standard in the fields of library science and computer science.

Computer science and library science? How perfect is that for me?!? I am really looking forward to this project - I hope it's as interesting as it sounds.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

okay, honestly, guys.

Sorry, I'm a nitpicky librarian! What can I say?

I am truly enjoying Connecting Young Adults and Libraries (Gorman & Suellentrop, 2009); it's one of the better and more engaging textbooks that I've ever read. I actually love most of the advice that's being given, and I'll let slip "prublish" and spelling the band's name "Stained" instead of "Staind." But I'm just getting frustrated, now! Because before, I wasn't noticing any problems. But you listed the 2003 winner of the Michael L. Printz award as Aiden Chambers' Postcards from the Edge. Only Aiden Chambers never wrote a book by that title, and there's nobody actually named Aiden Chambers; it's Aidan. And he DID write a book called Postcards from No Man's Land. Postcards from the Edge was written by Carrie Fisher (yes, that Carrie Fisher) in 1987.

Now, I'm sure it was just a case of some low-level administrative assistant being asked to retype the list for inclusion in the book or something. But, honestly, there are lists all over the place of the Printz award winners that you could've just copied & pasted. It bothers me - it makes me feel like I'm not important, as the audience for a book - when nobody bothers to edit. I hate to be so upset, but I feel like someone's not doing their job. Grr.

do these people read?!?

I have to say, I'm shocked by how many grammatical errors I am finding in my library textbooks! I can't say I'm 100% error-free in my own writing, but I do strive to be - and I reread everything I write at least once or twice. I feel like nobody even looks at the text once it's on the page, in these texts that are required reading for my classes. It's absurd. The one I just came across was "VOYA is also the only one of the big four to prublish reviews written by teens." Prublish!! Augh. It kills me because any editor would have noticed that, easily. I'd hope, anyway....

I have noticed everything from missing punctuation, to spelling errors, to missing parts of words! Yes, I turned a page and saw "suasion" starting off the text of the following one; I know that what they meant was "persuasion." I just couldn't believe that an error that big wasn't noticed by anyone before the text went to print.

Okay, my rant is over (for now). I gotta get back to my frustrating readings...sigh.

(I'm sure, as some sort of karmic justice, there is at least one error in my above writing. Ah, well - what can you do, right? Irony! Haha.)