Yesterday we discussed contextual cataloguing in the group. By this I mean creating meaningful catalogues with interconnections, or a web of relationships so that a collection or item is put in its context and it can be made sense of. Take one side of correspondence out of context or a photograph and this can change its meaning, so there can be a responsibility in trying to represent something as close to what it actually is from provenance and original order as we can.
Having worked for over 16 years in the archives sector I’ve seen the same discussions and hear the same issues being raised about how we provide good descriptions of our stuff, to standards, making them user friendly and discoverable. Part of our investigations and discussion yesterday was to be honest about this and place ourselves in a global context thinking about how we can follow standards, but be open, flexible, experimental and avoid getting tied into one solution. We thought about how we can layer approaches to make it easier but also more user friendly and how to be mindful of mapping catalogues and standards as new ways of doing things will always appear. Stepping back from the technology and thinking like the user, in human terms and for as wide an audience as possible.
We explored some of the work we’re doing here at Edinburgh with open source approaches such as ArchivesSpace, metadata and authority mapping as well as the embedding of images.
What was great was that it showed that this is the tip of the iceberg and opened up a discussion that resonated across the group. This was just the start of the exchange of ideas in this area and we’re keen to see what comes out of the week as we share more.
Here are the prezi slides. Do get in touch if you’re interested in finding out what we’re doing at the Centre for Research Collections, University of Edinburgh