New Year

There are many New Years to mark throughout the year: new calendar years, new fiscal years, lunar new years, religious new years, cultural new years. This week, news is slight, so I take the opportunity to wish ARLIS-NA/MW’s academic members a safe, easy, pleasant start to the new academic year.

I have never gotten over the desire to buy fresh pencils and notebooks in late August. And crayons. The scent of a freshly opened Crayola 64-box is as much part of my Fall as colored leaves and crisp apples.

May your students have interesting questions and sufficient patience to find the answers.


About HistoryPin

HistorypinHistorypin was created to help people to come together from across different generations, cultures and places, around the history of their families and neighbourhoods, improving personal relations and building stronger communities.”

Historypin, created by the non-profit We Are What We Do in collaboration with Google, provides a platform for sharing and annotating images, audio, and video content. Initially the site was loaded with content shared by more than 100 libraries, archives, and museums. Content has now grown to more than 350,000 contributions from individuals and institutions. The exact (and ever-changing) count is displayed on the home page.

Content can be pinned to maps, allowing visitors to view a rich array of diverse images of their community. Content can be grouped into collections or “tours.” Anyone can add stories or comments to the pinned content. The result is an unusual, compelling mix of curation and crowdsourcing. Looking at content for my own home area, Northern New Mexico, I can see pins from individuals, museums, and universities. It is wonderful to explore, and inspires me to get busy adding some older photos of my own.

How much can one rely on crowdsourced information? That’s going to be a question of increasing importance. In some respects, though, even inaccurate comments or fictitious stories tell us something about the people who shared them, and about what matters to those people. In Historypin, users can report inaccurate or inappropriate content, allowing the community to regulate itself. I would expect that there are conflicts similar to those that arise in Wikipedia related to different interpretations – or in this case different recollections. Historypin does moderate content, but one wonders to what degree that’s possible with content being added quickly.

Among the projects and collections are several related to art. One that’s featured now is Putting Art on the Map, from the Imperial War Museums. Here’s their intro to the project: “From John Singer Sargent to Paul Nash, some amazing artists captured scenes of the First World War. Explore these evocative artworks from the Imperial War Museums, help us improve their locations and enrich them with your comments and stories. Or you can curate the artworks into your own Collections or Tour.” The IWM presents images and information via this project, but it is also looking for help solving “mysteries,” attempting to define the location of an image int he collection, or identify the subject of a portrait.

I can see lots of potential applications for my Library and Archives, rich in visual material and fieldwork.

The site is easy to navigate, intuitive and comfortable to use. Terms and conditions and procedures are clearly laid out (see the FAQ page to get a good overview). Historypin has won a Webby Award for the best Charitable Organization/Not-for-profit website. This one is well worth a little exploration.



Harvard WorldMap Project

  The Bartlett Library’s migration to Koha offered us a rare moment when our data was suspended between – and outside – library systems. During that time I was able to look at the data in a new way and consider some beginning moves toward controlled vocabularies that would suit our unique needs. One area of concern for an international folk art collection is correctly identifying cultural groups, so I went searching for new and interesting ways to discover and represent this kind of ethnic and cultural information.

A favorite resource discovered in that search is a map of ethnicities of the world from the Harvard WorldMap Project. WorldMap describes itself: “WorldMap is an open source web mapping system that is currently under construction. It is built to assist academic research and teaching as well as the general public and supports discovery, investigation, analysis, visualization, communication and archiving of multi-disciplinary, multi-source and multi-format data, organized spatially and temporally.” At the WorldMap website you can view many maps that have been made already. But WorldMap is more; it is open-source software that will allow you to create your own mapping portal.

I spent hours investigating the ethnicity map, and it helped me better understand the depth of complexity we face in describing collections adequately to support searches. Is there a WorldMap that might inform your work? Even if there isn’t, this is a good place to gain insight into the news of the day. Happy exploring!

Update on Museum Hill Libraries Migration to Koha

Here is the conclusion of the Museum Hill Libraries Migration to Koha story from the Mountain Ledger.

Ah, migration. I always hope it won’t be dramatic.

This time around there were two extra complications. First, in order to work with the best library data migration person I have ever worked with, we had to move our go-live date up by a week. It was worth it, given that our data needed a lot of manipulation to go from a non-MARC format into MARC. Joy Nelson at ByWater Solutions did an exceptional job coaxing the Bartlett Library records into an acceptable form. But losing that week meant our conversion collided with Folk Art Week, the opening of Between Two Worlds (the Museum’s Gallery Of Conscience exhibit on immigration), and the International Folk Art Market. To add insult to injury, the district court called me in for jury service on our go-live day.

Fortunately, this was an occasion when our vendor ByWater’s communication was excellent. Joy contacted me as soon as the data was in the production server on Saturday, and I was able to test the live system from home (because during Folk Art Market I can’t park at the Museum, drive on the street that leads to the Museum, or find a quiet place to work in the Museum). There was one data glitch, quickly fixed, and we were off and running on our new Koha system.

It’s a happy ending. Not perfect, but realistically happy. We have some OPAC tickets hanging, but I have been assured they will be cleared soon. Communication was not always what I would have wished, but on the crucial weekend it was all anyone could have asked for.

Some questions linger. I am still playing around with the best way to present analytical records. I think I like using fast cataloguing to handle ILL checkouts, but I’m not entirely sure yet. There will be fine-tuning to do. We also have to adjust to a system that runs on barcodes when nothing in our collection is barcoded.

You can see our catalog online at . Our sister library is at just in case you want to see a little of the customization that’s possible. This is the first time that either catalog has been accessible in this way. We still have items to catalog, and retrospective catalog fixes to make (some things that didn’t matter on our old system are glaring in the light of MARC), but this happy ending is also a good beginning.

If you have questions, please get in touch. I am happy to let you know more about our bright, shiny new Koha system.