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Encounters with metadata Angela Murphy The Image Business MILE 23 August 2007 Personal encounters with classification and metadata Pre-digital age - hands-on picture research Subject headings and simple arrangements Setting up a picture library Importing metadata from databases

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Encounters with metadata

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Encounters with metadata l.jpg

Encounters with metadata

Angela Murphy

The Image Business


23 August 2007

Personal encounters with classification and metadata l.jpg

Personal encounters with classification and metadata

  • Pre-digital age - hands-on picture research

    • Subject headings and simple arrangements

  • Setting up a picture library

    • Importing metadata from databases

    • Digitised card indexes

  • A major funded digitisation project (NMSI)

    • Thesaurii and subject hierarchies

  • Encounters with academia (Courtauld)

    • - not all projects were the same

  • Systems, metadata, and search engines

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  • 1980s: Picture editor and researcher

  • 1990s Science & Society Picture Library


  • Time Out Group, The Labour Party, Getty Images

  • Courtauld Institute

  • University of Cambridge - museums, archives, libraries

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The pre-digital age

  • Still applies to 90% of the world’s cultural image resources

  • The hidden resources

  • NMPFT (National Media Museum)

  • Courtauld Institute

  • Cambridge University

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NMSI - looking for taxonomies

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Evolution of image metadata

  • Pictures: negatives, prints, transparencies

  • Need to find images

    --- newspaper picture libraries, press and stock agencies

    --- indexes of art history e.g. Witt Library, slide libraries, LoC image collections

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Working towards a subject hierarchy - analogue folder tabs

  • Collection names

  • ScM Library Lists

  • Daily Herald

  • Daily Express

    Also used

    SHIC (Social History Index)

    Library of Congress Subject Headings (not much use)

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Images of items in

3D Collections

Collection Names

Sub-headings adapted from the library lists, in consultation with curators

Pictures from the

Pictorial & Photography Collections

Adapted existing sub-headings

Typed up all the Daily Herald and Daily Express sub-headings

Adapted to fit into a subject hierarchy - years and years

Building on the hierarchy

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The NOF-funded project

  • Opportunity to rationalise the subject headings

  • Keywords, keywords, keywords

  • Concepts, actions and emotions

  • A new system

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Going digital

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The Home Page

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Global Menus

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Browsing Using Categories

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Main Subject Level

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The Sub-Category Level

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The Sub-Category Level

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Preview A Single Image

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Issues: Migrating to overseas partners

  • Commercial partners did not want an xml export of metadata

  • Several had never heard of xml

  • Picture libraries receive thousands of image records every week from hundreds of different sources.

  • Which xml standard ?

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Courtauld Institute

  • NOF project team created powerful, sophisticated DAM

  • Day-to-day activities not integrated into project

  • Most staff prefer to use known, pre-existing, simple Access databases

  • Locked-in images/ data

  • Authority lists - ULAN and Witt

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Keywords and thesaurii

Keyword Search

  • “Select a keyword below to initiate a new search”

  • Keywords: portraits, books, finger rings, busts

  • Keywording done via thesaurii

  • Ensures consistency, but not designed to enable unmediated searches

  • Poor results on common general searches

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The Bar at the Folies Bergere

  • Keywords

  • bars (1) | beer (7) | bottles (13) | dresses (108) | men (790) | mirrors (94) | necklaces (36) | oranges (2) | trapezes (1) | waitresses (2) | women (1356)

  • Keyword Search

  • Select a keyword below to initiate a new search

  • costume , textiles , furniture and furnishings , women , sport and leisure , people , people and organisations , business, commerce, industry , costume, jewellery and personal appearance , fine and applied arts, sculpture , making things , manufacturing , science and technology , visual works , domestic and social life, rites and customs , objects , coating (process) , processes , periods and styles , materials , nature , textile working , painting , waitresses , dresses , necklaces , bottles , trapezes , bars , beer , oranges , fruit , eating and drinking , botany , sports and games , jewellery , coatings (materials) , nations and peoples , paint , french , bar , canvas , containers , eating and drinking places , female people , food and drink , garments for the whole body , gymnastics , male people , mirror , oil paint , people by gender , people in service occupations , plant , vessels (containers) , plants , mirrors , men , paintings

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A slice of the metadata

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Cambridge DAM Project

  • 8 core partners - all university departments

  • Libraries, museums, academics, technologists

  • Up to 30 potential partners

  • Broad range of issues - relating from the sophisticated to the banal

  • Organise, assess, delete, rename, add information, distribute, disseminate, earn…..

  • All involve improved use of metadata

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Cambridge DAM Project

  • University of Cambridge Library

    • Royal Commonwealth Society

    • Darwin projects

  • Fitzwilliam Museum

  • Scott Polar Research Institute

  • Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology

  • Dspace

  • CARET (Centre for Advanced Research in Educational Technology)

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Analogue or digital ?

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IPTC headers

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How well does it work for us ?

  • Important as a short term solution

  • Needs to be extended in several vital areas

  • Cultural use currently inconsistent

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IPTC - Mapped fields

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Tagging Objects

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The role of funders

To make more precise demands of the recipients of their funds, in order to:

  • Ensure digital preservation

  • Ensure the rights information is harvested

  • Ensure digital asset creation

  • Pay more than lip service to the idea of sustainablity and re-purposing

  • Login