Content update

We thought you might be interested to know what content is now available for viewing in the archive as we have made real progress in the last few weeks. There are now:

  • 38 East Midlands Oral History Archive interviews
  • 96 Ghost signs – do have a look at these and see if you recognise any from the area of Leicester you live in
  • 15 Historical directories and more to be added shortly
  • 24 Special Collection items – mainly drawings by George Henton
  • 148 Vanished Leicester photographs – these are photographs taken by Dennis Calow of areas of Leicester that no longer exist and make very interesting viewing

We have completed training with both Rothley Heritage Trust and Leicestershire Industrial History Society and both groups are beginning to add items to their section of the archive so do keep your eyes open for these.

Again please do let us have feedback on the site as we appreciate your views and we will keep you posted on progress.


Weekly update (3)

Another week has flown by (more than one in fact).  We’ve been doing a lot of background work on our technical set-up and workflows recently so this blog has been slightly neglected.

One of the fundamental issues we need to resolve is the use of facets in CONTENTdm.  CONTENTdm provides the functionality to have five facets which are fields that will be cross-searchable across all collections.  They are used as limits for narrowing down search results.  We are proposing the following five:

 Collection        – e.g. Media Archive of Central England (MACE)

 Type                    –  e.g. Audio; Still Image; Video; Document; etc

 Subject               – e.g. Ghost signs

 Date                     – e.g. 1936

 Location            – e.g. United Kingdom – England – Leicestershire – Leicester

 There are several factors to consider with these fields.  A key consideration is that all of the data entered should be in the same format across all collections.  Additionally work needs to be done so that items about similar subjects from each existing collection can be searched for and found with a single search.  Therefore we need to develop a single controlled vocabulary from those already being used.  This concern also applies to the location field.

Consider each facet in turn:

Collection will be a new field added to all items within MLDA and can be controlled internally (it is simply a list of all the collection names).

Type will be a new field which we will add to records whether or not they already have a similar description.  The field will indicate the type of file attached to the record and will again be drawn from a standard list.  However we feel that the DCMI Type Vocabulary is too wide reaching to be used for this purpose as we really want to make the facets work for browsing and discovery of items in the collection.  Hence we are proposing a home grown list.

Subject will be an amalgamation of already existing data in metadata fields.  For example EMOHA have an in-house controlled vocabulary, MACE uses the UNESCO thesaurus and Special Collections use LCSH.  The easiest solution would seem to be to use a controlled vocabulary as a basis for classifying new items, and to map the EMOHA & MACE collections to this list of preferred terms.  We have decided to map to LCSH.  This is the obvious choice particularly as the records will eventually be included in Worldcat.

Date should be recorded in the same format in all collections.  What this date means is also critical in defining how the facet will be used.  Logically this date should be the year of creation or recording.  For example if we have a digital video of VE day celebrations the date should be 1945, not 2003 when the film was digitised.

Location is a subject field specifically for describing the relevance of the item to certain places.  We will use the following notation style and the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN) which is available within CONTENTdm. 

United Kingdom – England – Leicestershire or,

United Kingdom – England – Leicestershire – Leicester – Beaconsfield Road

We plan to convert any existing place information to this format.

So after that whistle stop tour of facets we should probably discuss file types but I think that will have to wait for another post!

Finally it’s worth noting that we now have a project e-mail address: which can be used for contacting the project team.

Weekly update (2)

The past seven days have flown by and here I am writing a weekly update again. 

At the beginning of this week I attended a course at JISC Digital Media in Bristol.  The team there seem to be a good bunch and are incredibly knowledgeable and well prepared for the training they deliver.  They have been great in talking through the whole process of building this type of collection whilst highlighting best practise in areas such as digital image capture. One of the key ideas I took from the day was the concept of producing digital images to fit the purpose that they will be used – and a mathematical way of quantifying this.  It’s another strand to add to the discussions we are having about workflows and standards.

After that useful start to the week I have spent some time configuring CONTENTdm to the point where I can talk to our technical guy next week and go to the next step – which is to have a working demo “view” for a particular collection.  We’ll be showing this to the project team at the next meeting.

Before that meeting the key task will be to bring all of the ideas, discussions and plans together into a report/presentation to inform the group about the options we have.  Hopefully the group will then be able to make some big decisions about the technical side of the archive.

Weekly update (1)

It’s quite hard in the midst of a project like this to update the blog with all of the daily activities so I will endeavour to provide a weekly update.  This is the first – so here we go.

The first steering group meeting took place on Monday with lots of useful ideas being produced.  It was good to meet representatives from most of the initial partners and having so many groups on board means there is a huge amount of experience to draw on.

This week has been very much about bringing the set-up strands together.  We have now got the appropriate CONTENTdm licence in place.  CONTENTdm had been identified as the software of choice for this project at an early stage.  The bid justified this as follows:

 “OCLC’s hosted CONTENTdm software was selected over open source alternatives to manage the digital archive because of its rich functionality including full-text searching, faceted search results and the availability of Web 2.0 services in a forthcoming release scheduled for testing in Autumn 2010”

We are now underway configuring the admin side of the CONTENTdm interface, and pursuing some of the technical issues that arise when implementing a new piece of software.

The other technical issues that are foremost at the moment are the file types required in the archive for both preservation and delivery purposes, and the metadata templates to be associated with each collection/item type and how these will be cross-compatible (more on this soon).