June 08, 2008


Live blogging the UCLA/Getty Storage Symposium (part 6)

I just dragged my luggage from one end of the UCLA campus to the other: my Aerobic Exercise Camp is proceeding apace :-) Today we start Session 3: Digital Management of Portable Finds; Tools for Archaeologists and Conservators, introduced by Aaron Burke (UCLA).

Kenneth Hamma (Getty Trust) speaks first. He recalls the good old days when he was digging in Cyprus and had a "portable" computer that weighed a ton and had measly storage capacity. in 1995, the Getty started the digital cataloging of their collection and soon found that time and people were the key obstacle, not equipment and the like. Eventually, to address the lack of comparability between catalogs in different institutions, the Cataloging Cultural Objects (CCO) system for cataloging using standardized terms and definitions was set up. The Getty then developed the CDWA Lite (Categories for the Description of Works of Art) system which allows a minimal cataloging routine, usable for any kind of institution, bowing in a way to the realities of the real word. The Open Archives Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) is an excellent protocol to embed the catalog data and provides the common language for accessing museum and library collections as well as individual objects over the web. He discusses my Alexandria Archive Institute's Open Context system as a good example of where we are headed. A colleague asked about the reluctance of many institutions to share and expose their data/collections to the world. He replied that it is a matter of policy. Anyway, things are moving fast: if you're not available on the web somehow, you risk becoming irrelevant or at least miss out on exposure, recognition for your institution or project. Aaron Burke introduced the term expectation inflation.

Howad Wellman (Howard Wellman Conservation) talks about A Tale of Three Surveys: Flexible Condition Surveys for Mixed Archaeological Collections. He used to work at the MAC Lab (Maryland Archaeological Conservation) where he developed and evolved their conservation condition survey database system as an integral part of the long-term care of their collection (it is the depository of all state-funded archaeological projects' finds). The actual catalog of their holdings is totally separate although they're hoping to connect them in the future. A lot of their finds come from CRM projects and are not treated, conserved. However, this condition survey database is now actually being used by the conservators to choose interesting finds that should be conserved properly.

Update: fixed an annoying typo.


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