Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Paper: Forging cultural heritage collections online: The story of An American Tale

The Winner of the 2007 SLA IT Division Jo Ann Clifton Student Award was Nancy Bronte Matheny who submitted a paper on this project, Forging cultural heritage collections online: The story of An American Tale. Matheny wrote in the introduction:

In the heartland of 19th-century America, Missouri welcomed emigrants from states and countries, near and far, as the central crossroads of the nation. The digital collection, An American Tale: 19th-century Folkways to Missouri, was created by the author to document that migrant experience through the heritage of one individual, to understand the process of constructing a cultural heritage collection online.

The purpose of this paper is to reflect back upon the extensive planning and execution required to create, from the ground up, the digital repository of 3 migrant pathways to Missouri, to understand best practices in building an online digital collection.

The reader will learn in part 1.0 the initial goals of the project and the work which was undertaken. Part 2.0 will describe corresponding outputs from the effort, through a virtual tour of the finished collection. Part 3.0 will evaluate lessons learned from that endeavor.

Like the journey of early settlers to Missouri, the road to constructing a premier digital collection is fraught with danger: potholes, treacherous stream crossings, dangerous wildlife, bad equipment, limited funds, and all kinds of weather. Through lessons learned by the experience of the author, the reader may take away valuable lessons to begin the journey to building a premier digital collection.
This eight-week project was completed as part of a course she was taking at the University of Arizona. Included in her e-paper are screenshots and other information displayed in graphic form (like her budget).

This is an interesting read because you understand better what library science students are being challenged to do in graduate school. You also can read/understand the decisions
Matheny made as well as what she learned.

And what were her lessons learned?
1) planning is crucial, 2) experience counts, 3) choose wisely, 4) be flexible, and 5) keep a sense of humor.
By the way, "the The Joe Ann Clifton Student Award is presented to a library science student who has submitted an outstanding paper regarding the use of information technology. The award includes student membership in SLA for one year, expenses to attend the SLA Annual Conference, and publication in b/ITe." For students who may be interested in applying for this award, you can read last year's call for submissions here. I would assume that the requirements and deadlines will be similar in the coming year.

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