Tuesday, December 29, 2009

About our project

The goal of the Creating Collaborative Catalogs project is to share museum objects in more meaningful ways with the Native communities from which they originally came. We will accomplish this goal by working with the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center, the tribal museum of the Zuni Native American tribe, to create a collaborative catalog where Zuni people can look at, learn about, and comment on Zuni objects held by our content partners: Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver Art Museum, and the Museum of Northern Arizona. Our project is bringing museums and source communities closer together in a few important ways:

Setting the record straight
  • While museums have recently been doing a better job of working with Native communities to create events and exhibits, we believe there is still a gap in how museums are collaborating with communities to record and store information about objects in their museum catalogs. Because museums are also places where knowledge is stored (as well as objects), one of our goals is to give Native communities a method to 'set the record straight' and contribute their deep contextual knowledge about objects from their culture.

Intellectual property protocols
  • Intellectual property is a deeply important issue to many Native communities, and so one of our project goals is to design our Collaborative Catalog in such a way that native community members can decide with whom they wish to share their contributions and comments. This is an important technological and culturally-sensitive step in the right direction for communities where certain areas of knowledge are too sensitive to share widely.

Information 'pull' and information 'push'
  • A third important part of our project has to do with the idea of 'information push,' a technological concept which happens when the knowledge-holding entity (often a database or server) sends information without users having to constantly ask for that information. Since many native communities are often unaware of the latest new developments in knowledge about archaeological objects, one of our goals is to create a system that incorporates 'information push', meaning that as new research about specific collections is added to the catalogs of the partner museums, the system automatically exchanges this information with the database at AAMHC, and vice versa (when appropriate).

Later in the project, we plan on sharing what we have developed with many of our museum colleagues who are interested in creating something similar in their own museums. We will host a Leadership Workshop in the fall of 2011. Please contact us if you are interested in participating!

Our project is generously funded by a US Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) National Leadership Grant, in the Advancing Digital Resources category.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas.

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