Meta-morphosis: thinking about how to make the digital accessible
Sounds like a no-brainer right? After all, we’ve all used Flickr, Facebook, Google docs and similar. But making digital material accessible, while also preserving it and protecting copyright, is a different beast. As part of this project we’re considering how to make the digitally created material we “ingest” available online for researchers. We’re hoping that we will be able to find a solution in Eprints.
I was particularly pleased to be able to visit Goldsmith’s College on a recent CILIP visit to find out more about what they have done using their Eprints based institutional repository, Goldsmiths Research Online (GRO).
Goldsmiths have created a slick and sophisticated looking homepage which was customised in house with the help of their IT support. When I got in touch with them they said that what they have achieved was reached through a “collaborative process over time, based on user feedback and required functionalities”*. They also mentioned that they designed it to be “minimal, functional and provide focus on both artworks and written research materials equally”*. This focus on the visual as well as written research is particularly interesting to me, bearing in mind that we may consider using Eprints to store digitised material as well as digitally created. Examples of different material types that can be found in the Goldsmiths Research Online repository include digitised paper documentation, photographed objects, and other more non-standard, object types such as documented performance pieces.
For me, the light box on the home page is particularly effective in indicating that this is a resource that holds more than just text based documents. When I attended the CILIP visit, Tahani Nadim talked us through modifications made to the front page using the an Eprints Plugin developed by the KULTUR project (KULTUR plugin). I was encouraged to find out that the plugin is potentially something we will able to implement. The plugin randomly selects images from the repository, and the selection changes daily.
While there are a few exceptions, as far as I know most organisations using Eprints repositories use them for their original use – to allow staff and students, or a wider community, to deposit individual works. I think we could encounter some difficulties using Eprints for archives due to the fact that we might be using it for groups of material (digitised images that are linked by subject matter), or digitally created archive collections, not singular items. In terms of using a plugin such as the KULTUR one, this could present some problems;
- It is yet undecided whether we will be using Eprints for digitised material as well as digitally created material. If we do not, the images that display on the home page are likely to be quite dull, in the short term anyway
- If we do use Eprints for digitised material, how do we communicate what is digitally created, and what is digitised?
- The light box feature that allows on screen display of images is great, but I’m concerned that it might be difficult to indicate that the image was part of a set (whether that be archive collection, or as before, by subject
So, some big questions to tackle…
*Via email with Administrator – Goldsmiths Research Online / Special Collections, 18-23 April 2012