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Picture Window: The Prints & Photographs Online Catalog as a Discovery Tool Barbara Orbach Natanson Head, Reference Section Prints & Photographs Division.

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Presentation on theme: "Picture Window: The Prints & Photographs Online Catalog as a Discovery Tool Barbara Orbach Natanson Head, Reference Section Prints & Photographs Division."— Presentation transcript:

1 Picture Window: The Prints & Photographs Online Catalog as a Discovery Tool Barbara Orbach Natanson Head, Reference Section Prints & Photographs Division Library of Congress June 2010

2 Prints & Photographs Division 14 million pictures 1.25 million digitized 15 th century to the present U.S. history and culture is a strength, but international in scope

3 Its been an exciting year for us. We released a new version of the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog in late March 2010. Today Im going to give you a glimpse of: the catalog some of the considerations it has to accommodate some features that support greater findability of our collections some discoveries and dreams in the wake of the release of the catalog. To set the scene – just a few quick notes about what the Librarys Prints & Photographs Division holds… A Window on Our Recent Catalog Development

4 Photographs

5 Architectural Documentation

6 Cartoons & Caricature

7 Graphics

8 Variety is the flavor of the day! I hope the picture is already becoming clear: we hold a lot of different kinds of pictorial formats and subject matter. Thats also the case with regard to the right to the images in our holdings…

9 Rights Vary Many acquired through copyright deposit – often with a commercial intent (advertising something, publication) Those registered for copyright or published before 1923 considered to be public domain Much that is not in the public domain (contemporary artists) or rights status not known for certain (e.g., materials produced outside U.S. or lacking information)

10 Rescue Operation & Opportunity: replace 15-year old software through rapid development process

11 Opportunity – Flickr Experience – food for thought about displays & open source tools

12 Development Context Our development process was not a traditional one of detailed requirements gathering. Rather, we were in a rapid development, rescue operation mode. Mantra: Lose no functionality! The IT staff members ambitions grew the more they worked with the new tools (see handout for technical information). As it became clear that aspects of the interface could change, we contributed what we knew of usability issues researchers had faced with the old catalog. We could also rely on IT staff members long experience with our metadata and images, and their familiarity with many of the special considerations PPOC presents. It is not a simple database with one to one relationships among catalog records and images.

13 Consideration: Levels of Cataloging Vary Item by item descriptions for some (e.g., posters, fine prints, cartoons) Group level description for others (e.g., Edward Curtis photographs of Indians by geographical grouping; Lewis Hine child labor albums)

14 Consideration: Levels of Cataloging Vary, part 2 Full(er) level for some

15 Consideration: Levels of Cataloging Vary, part 2 Minimal level for some (relying on keyword access more than subject headings)

16 Consideration: Some Digitized, Some Not

17 Consideration: Rights - Some Can Display More than Thumbnails Outside LC, Some Not

18 Improving Findability: Easy URL (meant lots of link changing, but in the long run, worth it)

19 Improving Findability: More Robust Retrieval In our old software the maximum results one could retrieve were 32,000 records. Now, whether they want to look through hundreds of thousands of images or not, researchers can know the full extent of their results.

20 Finding: Expose pictures early & often!

21 List view

22 Finding: Expose pictures early & often! Gallery view

23 Finding: Expose pictures early & often! Grid view

24 Finding: Expose pictures early & often! Slide show

25 Finding: Expose metadata early

26 Finding: Expose metadata widely The new system has a stable URL for each catalog record. So people can increasingly find reference to the images through their general search engine trolling, and be brought directly to a record in the catalog.

27 Finding: Share, share, share Conversely, as people find materials of interest in the catalog, they can readily share them to their social networking sites, email them to themselves or others, or bookmark them. They can share a link to a single record, to a set of search results, or to a Web page within the catalog.

28 Discovery (users) The response to the catalog has been very positive. It has also been interesting to see how researchers tout features that were present in the old catalog, but not so apparent. One researcher discovered a collection that had been there for several years. We think the thumbnail images convey information in a way that the descriptions did not.

29 Discovery (users) But teachers, in particular, rely on those descriptions to locate collections of interest for their students, so we offer the descriptions, too. Its possible that, down the line, we can use the categories such as span dates, to help people select which collections they want to search.

30 Discovery - Context Many researchers are interested in images on their subject regardless of the collection from which the images come. But we are also trying to encourage scholarship and visual literacy, where an understanding of the purpose for which an image was made, the audience for which it was intended, the person(s) who created it, and the technology used, are all important to interpreting content and meaning. We are now better able to present collection information alongside the search for a particular collection.

31 Ongoing discoveries by LC staff One convenience we hadnt appreciated until it was available is making the search box available from almost any page. But we all also discovered that one can get overexcited and start entering searches in the search box without taking into account whether one is searching the entire catalog or a single collection. Our IT staff recently introduced an improvement, to enable one to switch gears by merely selecting a different tab

32 The End (Not): Wish List For Future Systems… More visual display for groups of images Filters & facets (e.g., digitized) Map and timeline displays Auto suggest and Did you mean? (coming soon!) Whats New –latest additions to the catalog Commenting capability Supporting downloading metadata in bulk Publish API – support for user mash-ups, etc. Link to online ordering - LC Duplication Service Call slip printing

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