Contextual Wrappers 2

packaging University museum collections information as part of open metadata provision

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.


Designer Briefs

The project’s aim to develop a prototype search-portal of UK University Museums took its first steps during March, through further engagement with stakeholders: with a brief being agreed with UMG: Design brief for prototype University Museum search and a call being issued to UMG members to provide images that represent their collections and services:

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

Consultation Findings

During Jan and the first week of Feb 2012, the project undertook online surveys and a consultation session to sound out stakeholders on some of the issues the project is looking at, including terms of use for  ‘resource discovery’ data and user-interface features.  The summary findings from these are now available from this post and will inform project developments:

The online surveys were successful in reaching a wide range of UK University Museums and a smaller sample of University Museum users, thanks to the support of UMG, UMiS and Subject Specialist Networks, as well as join up with other JISC funded projects, such as OBL4HE & Cutting Edge, ( and )

Similarly the support of UMG allowed the project to consult face to face with a range of University Museum professionals at the UMG conference 2012, which was also enlightening for The Great North Museum’s new displays and the conference insights into impact & evaluation issues for University Museums, esp re the Research Excellence Framework (see more on the conference at:

Some of the headline findings from the surveys include: a large volume of collection and item records from University Museums being ripe for resource discovery via the ‘Wrappers’ (contextualised aggregation) approach; with a strong indicator that ‘open’ terms & conditions, or at a minimum ‘attribution’ terms could be applied to these;  plus a lot of digitisation still to be done across the sector and recognition of a range of audiences with differing needs to address through user-interfaces.

The latter was also evidenced in the consultation session findings, alongside the need to ideally align initiatives such as the ‘Wrappers’ approach with collections management standards and practices in the future; and to also try to join up with relevant research data when possible.

The findings should be of interest across the University Museum sector and to other areas of the ‘Discovery’ programme.

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…