Work Description

Cultural Heritage

The goal of the CHART project is to preserve and provide a digital forum for historic Brooklyn photographs in order to promote access and scholarship.  As a CHART intern, I am working to achieve this goal by processing and researching image collections in consult with the Brooklyn Collection staff, digitizing images following best practices guidelines established by experts in the field, and developing a framework for the cross-institutional digital repository.

Ivy Marvel, the Brooklyn Collection Archivist, identifies collections that are good candidates for digitization based on their content, potential importance to researchers, and on their physical condition.  Before a collection is digitized, Ivy will go through the collection with me to ensure that call numbers have been correctly assigned, potential cataloging issues are identified and remedied, and copyright clearance for digitization has been obtained.  In this pre-processing stage, it is sometimes necessary to gather data about organizations identified as rights holders and conduct more substantive research about photographs that are undated or under-described.

We have established and drafted institutional guidelines for digitization and workflows based on:

Cornell University’s Digital Imaging Tutorial

The Library of Congress, National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program

Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative’s Still Image Working Group

These guidelines inform technical specifications for: image conversion, file management, and digital preservation.

Although the cross-institutional repository is still in the planning and research stage, the deliverable outcomes of this project definitely impact our work practices.  Considerations of cross-institutional standards, technological interoperability, and repository functionality impact the way we are digitizing, storing, and describing images throughout the project.

Workflow and project phase sequence documentation are included as a Portfolio Appendix.


Since the goal of Project CHART is to provide access to a broad collection of historic Brooklyn images via an aggregated portal, my internship involves describing resources in ways that will contribute to a granular, functional, and user-centric catalog.  Access is not only a product of functionality, but of visibility as well.  In addition to resource description, we are also devising concrete strategies to make collections visible and accessible to a wide audience.

Most of the collections that we’re digitizing have already been cataloged in OCLC and exported to the BPL ILS.  The metadata standards and knowledge organization guidelines in use at the BPL are: MARC, LOC authorities, and AACR2.  The content partners involved in Project CHART all have different internal standards and we have agreed to use Dublin Core as the standard for the shared catalog but taxonomies and cataloging rules will be defined at the institutional level.  There has been some discussion of making sure our records are OAI PMH compliant, which will allow for interoperable metadata exchanges and increased repository functionality.  I have conducted extensive research on cross-institutional metadata standards and metadata conversion processes (see Portfolio Appendix) and I have created a Metadata Guide and drafted several crosswalks for MARC to DC conversion.  We have determine ways to make the conversion process semi-automated through strategic data exporting from the BPL ILS (Millenium).

In instances were no MARC records exists, we are creating original DC records and suppling the photograph cataloger with our metadata and crosswalks for reverse conversions into MARC.  Jefferson, the BPL site coordinator, and I have also been experimenting with embedding metadata into archival copies of digital images using Adobe Bridge.  Adobe Bridge has built in descriptive standards so Jefferson and I spent a week coding a custom Dublin Core information panel (see below).  We are planning on only embedding collection level data, which means we can do batch processing.  Because the BPL doesn’t have a DAMS, embedding metadata ensures that descriptive information and digital objects cannot become dissociated.

Custom Adobe Bridge Info Panel

We have also been developing strategies for collection visibility to promote access prior to the CHART website launch.  For now, thumbnails of newly digitized images are being appended to catalog records using the Millennium Media Manager ILS feature (see above).  I also had the opportunity to write a guest post for the Brooklyn Collection blog about one of our photo collections: Brooklynology Post.  I have also conducted research on visualization and interactive technologies that may be eventually integrated into the CHART website to enhance functionality and allow users to manipulate and curate photo collections.  The Brooklyn Collection is also participating in some external applications like History Pin and Flickr to increase visibility of collections.


Project CHART is not only a cultural heritage project but also an educational initiative to train new digital managers and develop a digital curation curriculum at Pratt SILS.  To this end, we often conduct research and analyze projects and technologies that will give us the foundational knowledge necessary to work as ‘future digital managers.’  The Practicum class is itself a forum for the merging of research and practice.  Through the course of my digitization internship at the BPL, I have conducted research in the following areas:

Best Practices for Digitization in a Cultural Heritage Context
Digital Humanities and Data Visualization
Technological Platforms for Digital Repositories
Functionality and Search Optimization for Digital Repositories
Resource Description and Automated Metadata Conversion
Digital Asset Management Systems and APIs
Technological Interoperability across Institutions
Open Source Software
Digital Preservation and Migration Protocols
Interactive and Web 2.0 Technologies


This internship has introduced me to a number of new technologies some of which I’ve researched, tested, and discussed with IT in terms of the possibility of implementation for this project. Because Project CHART is both a cultural heritage project and an educational initiative, CHART coordinators have made sure to make technological exposure a priority.

Below is a list of some of the hardware and software I’ve had the opportunity to work with as part of my internship.

Image Capture:

Epson 10000 Scanner
Cannon digital Camera and Camera Stand
Silverfast (proprietary scanning software)

Image Conversion / Data Embedding / Batch Processing:

Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Bridge

Project Management / Administrative Documentation:

MS Word
MS Excel
Lucid Chart

File Management / Data Management:

Filemaker Pro
MS Excel

Knowledge Organization:

OCLC Connection (demo)
Filemaker Pro

Legacy Data Conversion:

Archivist Toolkit

Web-development / Digital Asset Management:

Past Perfect (researched)
Luna (researched)
Drupal (researched)
Omeka (researched)
Archive It (researched)
History Pin