Jhu Week 5

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JHU Museum Studies Spring 2010 Cataloguing Museum Collections History, Trends, and Issues Michael Jenkins

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JHU Museum Studies Spring 2010

Cataloguing Museum Collections

History, Trends, and Issues

Michael Jenkins

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Week 5: Cataloguing Systems and Tools

• History of cataloguing systems• Current state of collections management

systems• Role of digital asset management and

content management• Future of cataloguing systems

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History of Cataloguing Systems

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Early “Computerized” Systems

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Relational Database Model

A relational database is a collection of data items organized as a set of formally-described tables from which data can be accessed or reassembled in many different ways without having to reorganize the database tables. The relational database was invented by E. F. Codd at IBM in 1970.

Source: http://searchsqlserver.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid87_gci212885,00.html

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“Modern” Collections Management Systems

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Graphical User Interface

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Networked Environment

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Structured Query Language Database Backends

SQL stands for "Structured Query Language," and can be pronounced as either "sequel" or "S-Q-L." It is a query language used for accessing and modifying information in a database. Some common SQL commands include "insert," "update," and "delete." The language was first created by IBM in 1975 and was called SEQUEL for "Structured English Query Language." Since then, it has undergone a number of changes, many coming from Oracle products.

Today, SQL is commonly used for Web database development and management. Though SQL is now considered to be a standard language, there are still a number of variations of it, such as MSSQL and mySQL. Source: http://www.techterms.com/definition/sql

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Security Access and Control

• Maintain permissions and security• Provide change audit

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Organization of Records by Module

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“Modern” Collections Management Changed Museums• Administration• Exhibition planning• Access

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Museum Websites

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Content Management

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Digital Asset Management

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Integration of Systems

• Integration has been hard work• Hard-coding was required to integrate

components of cataloguing and access systems

• Upgrades or changes to one system required a reworking of the integration

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Next Generation Cataloguing Systems

• Browser-based• Loosely coupled• Service Oriented Architecture• Employ APIs (application programming


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ReadingRead the Canadian Heritage Information Network's Collections

Management Software Review, http://www.pro.rcip-chin.gc.ca/gestion_collections-collections_management/evaluation_logiciels-software_review/index-eng.jsp

As you read consider how our notions of collections management may have changed since this report was issued in 2004. Do you think that a homegrown system is still a viable option for museums? How far should a collections management system go into the areas of digital asset management and content management? What role do you see for open source collections management systems? Evaluate the methodology employed by CHIN. Would you have structured the software review any differently?

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Written AssignmentPick a Collections Management Vendor and review their product

descriptions (either printed or online). Based on the product descriptions, describe their strength and weaknesses in the areas of collections documentation, digital asset management, and content management. Describe the type of organization that would be a good fit for the software and the limitations of the software that might make it unsuitable for other organizations. How easily does the product integrate with other systems? How difficult would it be to make records available online? Do you think the user interface looks intuitive? How well does the system handle reporting? Are there adequate security controls in place? Submissions should be approximately 500 words. 

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Monitor the Discussion area of Sakai for this week’s topics. New topics will be posted on Monday and Thursday.