Moderator: Marilyn Berger, Blackader-Lauterman Library, McGill University
Sponsor: ARLIS Canada
Marilyn Berger introduced the two speakers from the Canadian Heritage Information Network / Rseau canadien d'information sur le patrimoine in Ottawa. CHIN/RCIP is a Special Operating Agency within the federal Department of Canadian Heritage, and works with the Canadian museums community. The speakers today looked at recent initiatives.
Wendy Thomas is Project Leader with CHIN. She pointed out that CHIN/RCIP has been working for the past 27 years to enhance the resources of Canadian museums and their collections. They are concerned with content, partnerships, standards, technology and training. When the Dept. of Canadian Heritage was established in 1972, it was mandated to find ways of documenting national collections and of preventing the illegal export of artefacts. Towards these ends CHIN creates inventories, shares information, provides access to reference databases, and advises Canadian museums. Since 1995 it has worked principally via the Internet.
CHIN has inventoried a majority of objects in Canadian museums. The user can navigate in either English or French, and find records in audio, video, and image as well as text formats. During the past year, museums have been able to add images to already existing text records, and also to expand records with contextual information.
Wendy referred to references databases which are available free, or by subscription and site licensing. "Artists in Canada", a free service maintained by the Library of the National Gallery of Canada, provides basic information about 48,000 artists. The Heritage Forum lists workshops, conferences and job postings, and provides links to national and international heritage organizations. Among the partnerships are over 400 Canadian museums and galleries -- some of them very small. Eventually 2400 museums in Canada will be involved.
The quest for standards has included mounting the "Art & Architecture
Thesaurus." In response to a question, Wendy advised the audience that
the Getty Institute will continue to publish its "Art & Architecture
Abstracts" in paper form for at least two more issues. CHIN is now
dealing with intellectual property issues such as reproduction rights,
moral rights and derivative rights. It is examining how museums might
contribute information online. The range of fields has been expanded;
sensitive information can be suppressed. Recently CHIN brought together collections managers in participating museums to review 21 software packages for training museum personnel to take advantage of its services.
The second speaker, Karen Neimanis, is Manager of Development at CHIN. She explained what CHIN means by "integrated access". Through www links, they bring together related resources, and make access manageable, educational and enjoyable. Using slides, Karen simulated www.chin.gc.ca pages, demonstrating how relationships could be established among information resources, and how communication and participation is encouraged. The user progresses by means of the gateway from one resource to another, and is induced to explore in many directions.
Artefacts/Canada (the replacement for the museum inventories database) was launched last April for Natural History and Archaeology; the Humanities model will have to be further developed. It is hoped that the requirements of every kind of user, from the novice to the professional, will be addressed. Advanced searching employs the use of indices, concepts, commands and browsing the AAT. The AAT provides for retrieval in either French or English, and the use of synonyms, expanded terms, and common terminology. Among the challenges are enabling the user to get meaningful results in large databases, consistency in responses.
Work is in progress to create dynamic links to the artists listed in "Artists in Canada." "The Great Canadian Guide" is primarily aimed at the cultural tourist, and is linked with Artefacts/Canada. Information on over 2100 Canadian museums and galleries is provided in partnership with the Canadian Museums Association, CultureNet, and over 400 Canadian member museums and galleries. The application employs "what, where and when" search concepts, and a questions and answers paradigm plus keywords.
Mary Williamson, Fine Arts Bibliographer and Senior Librarian, York
University (retired); Adjunct Faculty, Graduate Dept.of Art History, York