It’s fascinating to see the different iterations of local history in the chapter “Community Exhibition: History, Identity, and Dialogue.” Examples ranged from the more expected house museums to galleries in churches like the Second Church of Newton, Massachusetts. For many of these smaller museums, an engaged and friendly staff is almost as important as the exhibits themselves. These museums provide a human connection as seen in the 2006 survey of small museums.
[It] confirmed the reasons visitors like learning history in these settings...Many cited services that appealed to more basic human needs: connection to other people. "Friendly staff members and volunteers," "staff friendliness and knowledge," and the "small size, friendly volunteers and staff" are what appeal to visitors in these settings.
The question then becomes how to translate this appeal to the online setting. While it is “easy” to think about digitizing local history objects (artifacts, oral histories), it it harder to capture this personal appeal.
Oddly enough, reading about the history of local history also made an episode of the British television mystery Midsomer Murders make more sense. One character looked down on another because he was studying ancient history while she was “merely” studying local history. I am pretty sure the word Victorian was used as a derogatory term in his description.
The importance and value of Outhistory.org is reflected in the growing focus on LGBTQ history. This can be seen commercially with the 2014 film Pride about the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign in the UK in the 1980s and the new ABC mini-series When We Rise tracking key LGBTQ activists from the 1960s til today. It is especially impressive that founder Jonathan Ned Katz was able to build this project without the institutional support of a college or university. It is also interesting to see a history project for whom “history” is rapidly changing. The project is essentially a combination of history and current events.
The readings and assignments for these sections were especially helpful in mapping out where my project needs to go. So often, I’ve rushed into a project without as much planning which led to numerous edits and sometimes starting over completely. The storyboarding readings and assignments were incredibly helpful because they forced me to sit down and look at the information I have/want to have and how to best represent that information online. Shawn Medero’s “Paper Prototyping” provided a clear, easy to follow plan for mapping out a project. Mapping the content in this way reminded me of the class I took through the Mason’s Education Instructional Technology program. We had to create a storyboard for our online tutorial. Taking these steps in the beginning saved time as I progressed further into the project. I have worked with students before who prefer to put all the information into Omeka without much preparation in deciding the layout and it showed. By thinking about the layout of the website , we are forced to consider the purpose of the website, what we are trying to accomplish with it. Having to plan out a digital project through storyboards and content templates forces us to ask and answer why we are creating the project in the first place and what we hope to accomplish with it.
Creating metadata has been an obstacle for me with digital projects, and I usually joke that I am an instruction librarian and not a cataloger. Having a clear introduction is always welcome so I appreciated that JISC Digital Media “Metadata: An Introduction” was one of our readings. Trying to digitize artists’ books has made metadata an ongoing issue. When I purchase artists’ books for a library collection, I intend them to be part of a teaching collection. However, their fragility requires that they be kept in the closed stacks, usually hidden in Special Collections. This makes being able to find the books online all the more important. Deciding on the approach and the terminology for the metadata has been an ongoing process (struggle). Thankfully, the way Omeka is set up allows for flexibility as do metadata schema (despite a rigidity behind the scenes). Reading through this website and related articles and books, I’ve decided to stay with an adapted use of Dublin Core instead of VRA Core to describe the artists’ books. This will also help the to keep things consistent when describing other items in the project like videos and ephemera like project handouts. I’ve found that the Omeka plugins Search by Metadata and Facet by Metadata make the search process easier and more productive. Users should be able to search artists’ books by characteristics like materials and techniques. These access points are as important as being able to search the poetry readings by the name of the reader and/or poet and the title of the poem. My audience includes college students, teachers, and artists/writers. After speaking with a graduate student in the MFA program at Mason (who was a middle school teacher and who has extensive gallery experience), I decided to break down the metadata into multiple parts: binding (technique and materials), folio (technique and materials), and enclosure (technique and materials). These groups have different needs and tend to describe things in different ways so it is especially important to make sure the metadata is clear and consistent. Being able to see how thoughtful and high-quality projects have approached their metadata was definitely helpful. They provide guidance in creating my own metadata.
Reading “The Curator Rules” and “Exhibit and Exhibit Labels Workshop” took me back to my museum studies classes. The history of museums shows exhibits that were “stiff” and formal. Looking at art museums, in particular, visitors were expected to have previous knowledge of the objects. However, more and more museums and galleries are trying to break down these barriers even if it’s just with temporary exhibits and not permanent ones. However, I appreciate Steven Lubar’s argument that you need to understand the rules before you can break them.
The following images show the infrastructure for the Omeka exhibit AMSSH DC 2016. Using the Exhibit Builder plugin, I have create three categories for this topic. The include artists’ books exhibited during the festival, poetry readings, and relevant ephemera created for the festival such as handouts and website screen captures.
AMSSH DC 2016 Exhibit Infrastructure
Infrastructure for the exhibit AMSSH DC 2016
- Exhibited artists’ books
- Dublin Core Metadata
- Location created
- Location exhibited
- Files: Images
- Poetry readings
- Dublin Core Metadata
- Speaker and/or Poet
- Title of poem
- Date and location of reading
- Name of event (if applicable)
- Files (possible): Video, Images, Transcripts
- Dublin Core Metadata
- Assigned descriptive title
- Date created if known
- Creator if known
- Description detailing purpose of the item
- Files (possible): Video, Images
See images from the Omeka exhibit below: