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Subject:

Re: Why are so few museum catalogues online?

From:

John Faithfull <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Museums Computer Group <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 12 Dec 2003 10:10:14 -0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (38 lines)

Hello Cristiano,


More interesting points here. I must go and do some work sometime (speaking
of effective project managment!). A particularly interesting one is how very
large numbers of records are displayed after searches.

After much thought we deliberately decided to display all results sets in
their entirety without breaking them up into pages of 10, 20 or 50 - exactly
so that people can scan them at their leisure. We did decide on an arbitrary
limit of 500 records for reasonable speed of response.

For any number of records up to 499, you would have seen them all on a
single page, with the option of a print-friendly format as well.

Of course my time has a cost. I don't want to boast, but I think you are
making unwarranted assumptions about our project. and how we ran it: in fact
we got remarkable value for money. Some details: we got around ?12000 to
celebrate Whistler 2003, and to develop more sophisiticated Web search
tools. Two thirds of this of this was for image capture, and to edit and
upgrade the Whistler catalogue records on our standard in-house computer
catalogue. The remainder paid for a shiny new PC, and about ?1000 of
software (in fact we didn't use MySQL or PHP), and ?2000 paid for a
programmer to work with me on the Web coding.

I'm a curator of geology, not an IT person,and while running this project, I
organised talks programs, exhibitions, did fieldwork, took some holidays,
and even did some curating. A small amount of Whistler project funding was
used to produce tools which are usable across all our collections, usable at
other sites using our computer catalogue, and which are almost zero
maintainence: automatically picking up weekly updates from the standard
in-house computer catalogue. I did devote a lot of time to thinking about
this - and it certainly wasn't free, but we did leverage a lot of long term
museum goals out of a small amount of funding.

That's all for today on from me on this thread!!

John

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