Contextual Wrappers 2

packaging University museum collections information as part of open metadata provision

Category Archives: Uncategorized

Final Post?

The project has provided invaluable insight into open data and resource disocvery issues for University Museums and the use of collection descriptions to aid this; resulting in some important improvements to aggregation services and the development of new interfaces to present and promote these exceptional collections to higher education and other audiences.  A summary follows:


The project has produced:

Lessons – see

Opportunities and Possibilities

Two immediate opportunities spring to mind as the project ends:

Firstly, it would seem apt for a next stage to be a programme of content development to support University Museums, (not already in Culture Grid), to be aggregated and thus make use of the fully functioning prototype search for UK University Museums, (developed to meet the needs of users in this domain).  This would provide a major resource for research, learning, teaching and collections management and an excellent promotional and advocacy tool for University Museums.

Secondly, the close association with the Open Book project has highlighted the potential benefits for associating research output data with collection descriptions, and further developments in this area would be welcome.


Users and Use Cases

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 ( ) 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.

The ‘Wrappers’ problem and why we’re addressing it…

Contextual Wrappers 2 aims to address a number of problems which were identified at the end of the first Contextual Wrappers project. Assessing the importance of interoperability, creating a service that will maximise the potential of the records currently held within the Culture Grid, understanding what the value of a museum collections search is and its use within the higher education sector were all issues that arose. In particular we wanted to understand the implications of ‘resource discovery’ , as opposed to item level searching, from the perspective both of data creation and user requirement. Much valuable work has been done in the past on Collection Level Descriptions [ ] and this project has sought to build on this framework and assess what barriers there might be in creating and using collection level descriptions (CLDs).

Through answering these questions, the project aims to further support the opening up of UK University Museum Collections, aiding better discovery of these records and presenting this information to the user through a prototype UK University Museum Collections Search Portal and an improved Culture Grid search. The project will investigate the benefits of using CLDs within the Culture Grid, and how adopting this approach can create more open, connected and discoverable museum collections to benefit higher education and other sectors.

Collection Records Profile for Grid: Part 2


These kinds of records are being developed by the project to support users of the Culture Grid aggregator service to:

  • Understand the scope, legal status and usage-terms of the ‘collections’ Culture Grid holds and makes openly available
  • Make content selections for different kinds of services/applications to be produced
  • Drive interface features based on the information and relationships inherent in these records

Additionally, these kinds of records will also support service-management tasks, such as reporting.

The records will use an ‘application profile’ similar to the RSLP-CLD ( based one that was used for the Wrappers1 project.

Innovative approaches in the implementation of the profile will include:

  • Using controlled term lists from the Culture Grid Vocabulary Bank, including the JACS terminology to assign course/module-based Higher Education relevance (
  • Auto-generating values from ‘look-up’ and other records contained within the Culture Grid

The latest version of the profile:

Following ‘offline’ testing of the RSLP-CLD based Wrappers1 profile for describing ‘collections’ in the Culture Grid, the profile, which will be tested in iteration 2 of the system developments, now has the following mandatory and recommended elements, with a number of other RSLP elements being auto-generated and the rest remaining as optional:

Mandatory elements, (which were kept to a minimum to allow identification, provenance, legal status and system-status to be recorded)

Identifier – single value. Auto-generated from system.

Title – dc:title. The name of the collection. Single value. 

Owner – multi value. Uses institution:identifier

Legal Status – A statement of the legal status of the collection.  Single-value, with an editable default value to indicate the provenance and rights status of the originating collection/items as a whole and the terms of use of the records from Culture Grid.

Type – Multi value.  From controlled list of: item; collection; institution; top-level; provisional


Recommended Elements (to describe coverage of the collection/items referenced in collections)

 Description dc:description. A description of the collection. Single value

Temporal coverage dc:temporal. The temporal coverage of the items in the collection. Multi-values from extensible list including MICHAEL Period terms from

Spatial coverage – dc:spatial. The spatial coverage of the items in the collection. Multi-value. (options being investigated to to populate/control by ‘look up’).

Subject – dc:subject. A concept (keyword) of the items in the collection.  Auto-generated from top 50 terms from subject-facet.

Subject & encoding scheme = JACS – (non RSLP) Controlled terms from HE course/module related thesauri at:


Auto-Generated Elements:

 Size (non RSLP) dcterms:extent. The size of the collection. Single value auto generated from the number of records in Grid collection once ingested.

Accrual status- cld:accrualStatus. A statement of accrual policy (closed, passive, active, partial/selective), accrual method (purchase, deposit)) and accrual periodicity (closed, irregular, periodic). Single value.  Auto-generated (oai=active; upload = passive; method = oai-harvest or upload; period = irregular for upload, harvesting default for oai, and closed for any known to ‘never come again’)

Super-collection dc:isPartOf. The identifier or name of a second [Grid] collection that contains the current collection. Single value. Auto generated.

 Sub-collection dc:hasPart. The identifier or name of a second [Grid] collection contained within the current collection.  Multi-value.

 Associated collection cld:has Association. The identifier or name of a second collection that is associated by provenance with the current collection. Multi-value. Auto generated from collections with same owner/provider.


All other RSLP/CW1 elements will be optional

Collection-records of collections of collections of collection-records – the sometimes convoluted world of aggregation

The project has been active in several areas, following a team meeting at end of Feb, which saw the project further align with the Open Book project, (

Activities include dissemination of the consultation findings through different stakeholder channels and further engaging with University Museums to confirm focus groups sessions in May and June to review the prototype search services that the project will develop over March/April.

The first of the focus-groups should be in late April at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, combining with the engagement activities for Open Book.  Another is confirmed for 14th May at The Egypt Centre, University of Swansea, ( ) in conjunction with ACCES, the Subject Specialist Network for museum curators looking after archaeological collections from Egypt and Sudan ( ).  Other focus groups are being confirmed with UCL, through join-up with the OBL4HE project ( ; The University of Aberdeen and  Queens University Belfast.

A major activity prior to next aggregator-system & interface developments is producing an application-profile for ‘Grid-collections’ i.e. for the collections of resource-discovery records that the Culture Grid aggregates.  These are required to support consumers of data from Culture Grid – to easily understand the scope and usage-terms of the ‘collections’ that Culture Grid  provides; developers to potentially build interfaces based on the relationships inherent in these records; and for service-management purposes, such as reporting etc.

Producing this application-profile is proving to be something of a brain-twister, as Culture Grid as an aggregation-service ingests and holds collections of item-records; collections of collection-records; and collections of institution-records, all of which potentially have poly-hierarchical relationships and associations with one-another, so the situation could arise where a collection record of collections of collections of collection-records would be required!

The aim is to try to reduce this potential complexity to something fairly simple to implement and the approach taken to try to achieve this is to test the RSLP-based application-profile that was developed for the first Wrappers project as a basis for the Grid-collection records, by doing some sample cataloguing of the different kinds of ‘collections’ within Culture Grid, to see which elements should be mandatory, which controlled or constrained, and any extra elements to include etc.

This exercise also includes looking at the use of the JACS vocabulary for subject-terms to potentially allow subject-browsing for HE audiences at the level of ‘Grid-collections’.  (JACS has been incorporated into the Culture Grid Terminology Bank, ( for this purpose.)  The profile-investigations have also included a revisit of the RSLP schema ( and the DC collection-application-profile  (  The results of these explorations should be known shortly to inform second iteration developments.

A similar exercise testing the CW1 profile, is also to be undertaken by The Fitzwilliam with regard to other University of Cambridge collections; and the ACCES SSN are looking at applying it for their records of archaeological collections from Egypt and Sudan in the UK, particularly with regard to adding basic excavation information as part of their collection records and controlling temporal and spatial terms by appropriate authority-lists.

Phill Purdy,
Culture Grid Manager, Collections Trust

A New Year a New Survey for University Museums and their users

The surveys for the ‘Wrappers 2’ project are now online and aim to collect feedback from University Museum staff and their users to improve resource discovery of UK University Museum collections.

The survey takes around 15 minutes to complete and all respondents will be entered into a prize draw to win a complimentary ticket to the OpenCulture 2012 collections management conference at the Kia Oval, London 26th & 27th June.

The findings of the survey will help the project to better understand the landscape of digital provision across UK University Museums and to inform developments of both the Culture Grid and a prototype service to search across UK University Museum collections.

Both surveys will be open until Friday 27th January for initial findings to be available for the University Museums Group conference 7th Feb 2012.

You can take the survey by following the links below, please could University Museums encourage their users to complete the ‘users’ survey.

*University Museum staff* should complete the survey at:

*University Museum users* should complete the survey at:

Fitzwilliam Visit

So to kick off this week, Phill, David and Katie met at The Fitzwilliam to discuss developments with Wrappers 2. There is some interesting work to be done with scoping out the extent of the University Museum collections records currently held within Culture Grid.

One of the project tasks is to identify contacts within the University Museums Group and investigate the areas that the project should cover through the use of a survey. The survey intends to cover the issues of:

–          Who they are

–          Would they be interested in taking part in a workshop

–          Information about the respondents/University Museums

–          Information about UM collections & item records

–          Info about access to these records

–          The users of the records

–          Information about the controlled vocabulary used/wanted

–          Responses to licensing ‘resource discovery’ records as open data

–          Responses to the ‘Wrappers’ approach

–          Requirements needed for a UM search service/responses to UMiS/Fitzwilliam beta

–          Who are the end users

Once the results are back from this survey, workshop materials will be produced and a consultation report drafted.

Look out for when the survey goes live, hopefully we will get some useful and creative responses, a geat day at The Fitzwilliam!

Project ‘kick-off’ – 1 November 2011

A project team meeting was held at the Natural History Museum on the 1st of November 2011.

Contextual Wrappers 2packaging University Museum collections information as part of open metadata provision – is a JISC funded project under Digital Infrastructure: Information and Library Infrastructure – Resource Discovery Programme.

This is the project’s website and here you will find published outputs from the project, blog entries etc.

Find out more about this project…