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Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Online First

OK long time, no blog. That's because most of the news either seemed more suited to Facebook, or to our web pages (information on objects in the collection, etc.). However, this piece I decided would be best suited to a blog.

I am very happy as we have just managed to get all the Egypt Centre collection online onto Culture Grid using a database system called MODES Complete. The reason why that is exciting is that we are a small museum frustrated at the fact that not very many people seemed to know about our collection. This would seem to be a big step in solving the problem with little money.

For a long time now, putting our database online seemed the right way to go in order to publicise our collection. This is what we hoped for when we first started cataloguing using a computer database (MODES Plus) back in 1997. Our complete catalogue has been online on a searchable database for several years now, hosted by MODES. But still it seemed that publications came out which would have benefited from including some of our objects. Researchers found us by accident rather than design. To give one anonymous example, a researcher was absolutley delighted in coming across us accidently. She had been looking for a particular group of objects for years, and there they were in the Egypt Centre. Our collection had been online for years, but she hadn't looked for us and the objects weren't at the top of Google searches. Frustrating for us and her.

What to do?

If we could be part of a larger group, one which researchers would routinely use, the problem of us being overlooked might be solved. Ideally, if we could be part of a searchable database where objects could be linked back to their original collections, our objects might be noticed more. So hurray for Collections Trust's Culture Grid, which does exactly that. The problem would be then how to get our collection on Culture Grid. I'm not a computer geek and we couldn't afford to hire a computer geek.

Earlier this year, accidently (as a result of a conversation with Phil Purdy of Culture Grid on an ACCES matter) that MODES Complete can do it all for us. So, a bid to CyMAL (the branch of the Welsh Assembly dealing with Museums, Libraries and Archives) for a small grant was put in. In March we got MODES Complete. I still can't use it properly as I haven't been on the full training course! But, with help from Richard Langley at MODES and Phill Purdy from Culture Grid, success. It's all online. I am so pleased. In the end it turned out to be a really simple matter. Now just waiting from enquiries from people wanting to see our collections.

Thank you CyMAL, Collections Trust and MODES.

If you want to know more, including a look at the database, this is the link.

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