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!