I was pleased to read last week that 75,000 records describing objects from the Powerhouse Museum have been added to Trove. Now, a search on Mitsuo Shoji, for example, retrieves not only books and articles about Shoji, but also images of works by him in the Powerhouse Museum collection.
Seb Chan from the Powerhouse Museum has written an insightful blog entry on this deveopment with the tag line Museum collection meets library catalogue. Surprised (and pleased) with the level of integration achieved, he says that this “signals the irreversible blending of museum and library practice in the digital space” and looks forward to increased referrals from Trove to the museum’s own site and the future sharing of user-generated tags and comments.
The museum objects fit slightly uncomfortably into the union catalogue paradigm but fine tuning of the screen presentation will soon address this. While it seems a bit odd to talk of works and versions when referring to a one-off Mitsuo Shoji bowl, there are many unique items in libraries as well, so this is not a new problem. In such cases, information about the holding agency seems to have a greater significance, and could perhaps be brought forward to the first screen. The work/version conceptual model will come into its own as more museum collections are added to Trove and the need is addressed to collocate records for objects produced from the same design template that are held in different collections.
Authority control remains one of the big problems for an aggregated service like Trove. The conceptual model supports the grouping of resources by and about a ‘party’ in the People and Organisations zone but the data is not always there to support this. Integrating the museum authority data with the Australian authority file used by libraries will be a big challenge but imagine how much more effective the service would be when this is done!
This is one of the areas where I see crowd sourcing coming into its own. Once there are simple ways to merge or separate ‘parties’ in Trove and to add or remove resources from lists of works by and about a party, how could a researcher, librarian or museum curator with a little time on their hands resist the urge to do a little cleaning up?