Project Assessment: Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, UCLA
collection guides to the Museums and the Online Archive of California (MOAC) is
one response by
partners to the increased dependence on Web-based content. Each partner is further engaged in
projects or programs to distribute digital content widely. MOAC complements a local project of the
Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts to provide layered access to collection
information for researchers, students, educators, and others-a project funded
by the Getty Grant Program. Together, the two projects will improve access to
descriptions and images from the Center's collection of 40,000 European,
American, and Japanese works on paper, including prints, drawings, photographs,
and artists' books dating from the Renaissance to the present. For
MOAC, the Center will contribute descriptions (many with images) of
works by Old Masters, 19th-century caricaturists, Japanese ukiyo-e artists, and
modern and contemporary artists.
Much of MOAC's work is supported by the University of California and
funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The Center's participation in MOAC
would have been much narrower without this support.
the Virtual Collections component of the Online Archive of California (OAC)
gives the Center one swift way to distribute selected content prior to
launching its local information access project. The MOAC project is distinct and interesting because descriptions
and images from diverse collections are centralized in the database managed by
the OAC. The idea of centralizing content is
attractive in that information seekers might find access to such a database
efficient, useful, or unexpected.
Centralization of partner content begins by following agreed upon
specifications for descriptions and images. It should be noted that the Electronic Text Unit of UC
Berkeley has offered MOAC partners exceptional technical support and advice.
MOAC is a
forum for sharing (often, debating) information about community-based
standards, best practices, and public access. As described elsewhere, the MOAC project tested the Encoded
Archival Description (EAD) as a data structure standard for representing museum
objects and collections in the OAC.
(The project also implemented the Making of America 2 standard, or MOA2,
and is prepared to implement the Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard.) Like many MOAC partners, the Center
means to balance the mission-critical needs of its professional staff (e.g.,
collections and exhibitions management) with the research and
curricula-complementing needs of our audiences (e.g., interpretation and
scholarship) therefore, no single project (or single project standard) controls
exclusively the Center's plans for information access.
MOAC partnership enables leveraging of some resources for sustained
involvement-such as funding, technology expertise, and project tools-reaching
the Center's goals for MOAC can be described as somewhere between easy and
difficult. Partners have come
together at several points to collaborate (for example, to discuss and ratify specifications)
however, most project-related activities mean working away from fellow
partners. MOAC, in fact, tested a
centralized and decentralized approach to content production, contribution,
storage, and distribution.
and maintaining workflow routines and time management issues required
considerable attention by the Center's staff. The Center plans collection
guides for MOAC as web-based publications. These publications are peculiar in that they are searchable
and centralized in the OAC with collection guides and finding aids from other
collecting bodies. Production
activities-from selecting appropriate content, preparing descriptions, and
applying controlled vocabulary, to getting data into the agreed upon
formats-require time, local resources, cooperation, and description and
technical know-how, as well as an on-site project manager or liaison. The Center's MOAC project team consists
of the collections information manager (MOAC project manager), three curatorial
staff, and the director.
is assisted in production by the digital assets management tool (DAMD)
developed by the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. DAMD
can help partners manage project workflow, digital assets, and the process of
converting museum data to the targeted EAD and MOA2 formats. The
Center uses DAMD principally to generate markup of object and collection descriptions
in EAD. This project-related tool has lessened some of the
work for the Center to produce new EAD collection guides. In its first iterations,
however, the tool was unforgiving and required a strict methodology when
ingesting data-not necessarily a bad thing. Partners use DAMD understanding the tool is offered without
formal client support. Yet, help
is often extended, thanks to the willingness and generosity of its developers
and other partners.
leadership and project tools facilitate a certain level of self-management for
partners. With DAMD on local
machines, for example, partners decide how best to represent their objects and collections,
within an acceptable range of MOAC specifications. Partners maintain local practices-ensuring descriptions are
not manipulated for this one project.
While partners retain much control over content expression, they give up
some say in the "look" of the product displayed to users, as non-customizable
interfaces have been developed for the project.
Center's point of view, the first years of MOAC have been an intense period of
standardization, production, and integration. In the coming months, partners will examine how Web audiences use MOAC content (or imagine using MOAC content) in
learning, teaching, and scholarship.
The examination will help content providers, like the Center, determine
the degrees of access desired and usefulness of our descriptions and images for