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!

Score One for Serendipity

Serendip-o-maticModern search tools and discovery platforms have all but eliminated the joy of the serendipitous find. All of us old enough to remember card catalogs can also recall the pleasure of randomly discovering a useful bit of information or a wonderful book never dreamt of while sifting through the cards in search of something completely different. Some software tries to reintroduce serendipity – the Koha system my library is about to implement has a “browse shelf” feature, for example – but these are wishy-washy attempts at best.

Enter the Serendip-o-matic. Enter text – any text – into the big box and feed it to the hippo (try it; you’ll see). Continue reading