packaging University museum collections information as part of open metadata provision
Producing a service that engages with the higher education sector means it must cater for a wide range of users and needs. This is something that the Contextual Wrappers 2 project has had to understand when looking at both the users and use cases of this project. Undergraduate and postgraduate students, researchers and academics (as well as a wider audience beyond HE) can all benefit from the outcomes of this project. To understand the needs of these different audiences, the project has undertaken online surveys and will be conducting a series of focus groups, made up of individuals from these demographics to both inform developments for the project and the wider Culture Grid service as it continues to evolve. The use cases reflect the focus of the project on collections within university museums and part of the evaluation process will be to test the validity of this focus.
The project proposes a variety of different use cases. For example, a postgraduate researcher may be interested in researching a specific topic or research area. The project addresses this through the use of collection level descriptions that can be both subject based and include pre-defined searches, testing how best to form these descriptions to assist in the scoping process during early stages of research .
Similarly, academics may want to use a University Museum search-service to develop or support study guides for their courses, potentially linked to their institution or locality. This would enable students to make more targeted use of museum collections as a resource and reference for their studies and to search through specific collections which are integrated with course material. The project’s investigation of the use of the Joint Academic Coding System (http://www.hesa.ac.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=158&Itemid=233 ) to classify collections is a particular feature aimed at supporting better integration of museum collections with these kinds of core University activities and systems.
Surveys and consultation workshops have been used so far to engage the kinds of users the project is concerned with. The reaction currently has been positive and demonstrated that there are a large number of University Museum records which could benefit from this kind of mediated resource discovery. The project will deliver generic solutions which can be applied to a specific group of collections (from University Museums) and more widely, by using the same framework for collection and item records from other sectors, ultimately aiding resource discovery for a wider variety of collections and a wider variety of users.