Commence the pilot project!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Commence the pilot project!

A significant percent of the total group gathered this morning at 10:00 in the Smith College Theatre building to inaugurate this project. It was the first time the students had met us all.

Present: Nancy Rexford, Arden Kirkland, Elisa Lanzi, Marla Miller, Niani Tolbert, Megan Yeo, Kitty Casseti, Lydia Wilson, Kiki Smith.  Marla left for her previously planned vacation.  Elisa left to attend to other projects since this is her first day back from vacation.

We introduced ourselves and reviewed how the project had evolved.  Then Nancy began her teaching using her slides.   At first it was a process of learning to recognize and then express/describe details in patterns.  Gradually several terms and themes emerged:

Densely patterned, Naturalistic, Stylized, Meandering, Sprigs, Classical motifs, Bilateral symmetry, Radiating motifs, Repeats, Strapwork, Botehs, Tendrils on Borders and Fields

We are all dazzled by the rich details and Nancy’s encyclopedic knowledge.  And a bit brain fried.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

This morning we met back in the classroom of the Theatre Building.  Nancy showed a few slides, but then shifted to looking at some shawls from the Smith collection and some borders on 19th century.

We scurried up to the Imaging Center where Elisa had arranged for a videographer.  We videoed the students working with Nancy to identify and explain the features of several shawls.

After lunch, we began an intensive seminar on cataloguing objects, whether clothes, photographs or notes.  First we worked in pairs to examine photos of a dress, trying to determine data that might be important for the metadata of each object.  A few parts are fairly objective, but most rely on interpretation which is or can be subjective. It’s fraught with red flags.

Then Elisa taught us about the content standards, VRA Core and DC/vocabs.  She and Arden showed the LUNA Smith program and Pratt Institute Fashion Plate collection, Vassar.

Nancy left today, much as she and we would love to have her here indefinitely (Next grant!).  Megan left for a previously scheduled weekend visit.  SHE was feeling torn, too.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

More metadata instruction.  Now it’s learning the numbering/labeling system that Elisa and Arden established.  We looked at a sample Cataloguing Worksheet, showing the prescribed style for data in multiple categories as well as an example of an imaginary shawl.  The list, necessary for every object entered, is quite long.  We looked at the specifics of the OMEKA system, learning how to navigate sites, enter items, searching at the basic and advanced levels, setting and using tags, making exhibits and navigating the administrative backend.

We looked at a spreadsheet like the one we will be using.  There several points requiring quality control to make sure that the data entered is correct.  It will be easy to make an error.

Jonathon Cartledge taught us how to use the scanner- there are two available to us here.  Each card, page or photograph is to be scanned.  Elisa and Arden are going to start the numbering.  A few of us looked at a shawl from the Smith Collection to find out how we would catalogue it.  Now that we know more details, it’s hard to pare down to what is essential for the records.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Today we began the actual process, so that each student learns the steps.  It was a bit bumpy, but most of the glitches weren’t very big.  Between Arden and Elisa, those were solved.  And by now, the students are noticing flaws in the system and suggesting ways to improve the setup, just as we’d hoped.

This afternoon was Arden’s final session here, so there was some pressure to make sure that all the systems are documented and that work patterns are clear.  Again, we would love to have Arden here indefinitely  (Next grant!).

The students are AWESOME.  Everyone is impressed by them.

In general, we are all dazzled by the accumulation of knowledge, talent, determination, skills, never mind the mind-boggling research material that Nancy has assembled so carefully.  It feels essential to get this material recorded and available for all.  And so that Nancy can write articles about these observations.

Monday, August 20, 2012

We’re on our own today.  Megan flies back tonight, coming in tomorrow.  Elisa is out for meetings.  And Arden is in virtual residence.  Between the 3 students here, there’s some great exchange of information regarding details of the documentation.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Well, a week has sailed past and there’s 3 days to go.  All last week the dream team continued scanning and cataloguing photographs of shawls and the cards with Nancy’s notes.

By this morning they’d finished the whole box.  AMAZING.

Now they are numbering and scanning the images in the notebook on patterns.  This involves finding specifics about her sources, scanning for each pattern when often there are at least 4 patterns per page, naming and cataloguing each pattern.  And quality control.  Laborious work.




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