From Collection Records to Data Layers:

A Critical Experiment in Collaborative Practice

Collections as Data: Part to Whole is an Andrew K. Mellon funded initiative that aims to encourage implementation and use of museum and library collections as data, and to foster the development of broadly viable models that support these endeavors. Our Part to Whole implementation attempts to reframe how we think about collections as data in an effort to change the culture that surrounds their production and distribution.

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Project Rationale

This project comes out of a longstanding desire on the part of the project team members to build better collaborative models for analyzing and improving the datasets behind the ULS digital collections. We hope to serve communities of would-be collaborators by helping to demonstrate how teachers, researchers, and collection stewards can work together effectively.

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Collaborative Model

We will export catalog data for target collections that have already been minimally digitized and/or described as collection records. Data will then be imported into a web-based application that will allow undergraduate students at Pitt to work closely with digital proxies of collections materials and metadata describing them. Students will work in teams to label, visualize, and analyze digital objects with increased granularity and critical depth.

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Overview of Materials

The cultural heritage materials in this project include a diverse array of serials (e.g., journals, magazines, newspapers, newsletters) and ephemera (e.g., broadsides, flyers, cartoons) that reflect the perspectives of African Americans, American Labor Unionists, American left-wing organizations, the LGBTQ community, and feminists.

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