I posted recently about some of the efforts in the visual resources community to create a more collaborative cataloging environment. One of these is the Wikicatalog, now in beta-testing. The creators of this site have asked me to make some comments about the current configuration and make suggestions.
This is an example of a professional and effective use of the wiki model. It’s publicly accessible, but actually editing records is limited to members of the visual resources community. It is a way to have a record created by one author looked at and vetted by many professionals, theoretically enhancing the level of expertise each time.
The beta model has the record templates in 3 formats: 2 lists and 1 table. I personally prefer the table format in terms of visual presentation and ease of entry. Each work element of VRA Core 4.0 has been input with areas for data to be added. The examples in the beta model have thumbnail images with corresponding URL to a larger jpg, along with descriptive VRA work metadata.
What I like best about this wiki is the easy accessibility of the fill-in-the blanks templates and standardized tools at hand. This became even more of an obvious benefit in reading over my internship journal from the IAIA when I had to create all that metadata. I sort of did the same thing – created a template/spreadsheet and used the authorized standards (AAT, ULAN, TGN, LC) to input the metadata. It was time-consuming. This wiki seems like the first step towards a time in which each institution involved in each metadata/digitization project does not have to start from the ground up.
Wikicatalog does not claim to be a union catalog. For now, it is a way to have all the VR cataloging tools in place – a template for cataloging in VRA Core, links to standards, examples to use for those who need to see how it’s done. Maybe someday there will be enough involvement to make it a repository for sharing work records.
How could this model be improved? Honestly, I think it’s a wonderful start. Once VR professionals do become involved with the project we will see how effective the collaborative effort can be. Until then, in theory I think this is definitely the direction we should be headed.