Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Capstone Finalization

This is the final entry for my Capstone project.  It has been a really interesting project, and I am very excited about all of the things I have been able implement with the help of the SOA's Webmaster, Chris Rankin, and the Director, Elizabeth Schaub.  My project culminated in a 25-page Marketing Plan which illustrates in greater detail the technologies discussed below.

Status Update

The VRC's blog is ready for roll out.  We have installed Google Analytics to record site traffic, so that we have actual user statistics for the site and can evaluate which technologies are being utlized.  

A Swicki, which users can utilize to search a vetted list of the VRC's Web Resources links as well as the internet, has been added to the Web Resources pages.  The Swicki records user statistics.  Based on these statistics, we know that the Swicki is being used, and that is very exciting.

The next step is to license the Visual Thesaurus.  Users will be able to access the thesaurus from the catalog.  We hope that this will allow users to find alternative terms when they conduct their searches in the image catalog.  

Currently, plans are in place to create a series of videos about how to use resources in the VRC. This series will be referred to as "Know How" and will debut in the fall.

Over the next year, the following services will make their debut:
  1. Dynamically generated content boxes on the VRC's Web site to promote web resources.
  2. Vlogs - video blogs - will be added as content to the blog.
  3. Orientation and instruction sessions.
Over the next 2-3, the following services will be implemented:
  1. Social tagging in DASe - the image database.
  2. Instant messaging capabilities between the VRC and the image catalog's users.
  3. Image collections uploaded to Flickr.
  4. Mashups between the image catalog and applications like Google Maps. 

It has been a privilege and a pleasure to work on such an interesting project!  I have learned a great deal from my experience at the VRC, and I'm very excited that I have been able to implement many things which will benefit the VRC over the next several years.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Marketing Plan Implementation

This week Elizabeth Schaub and I met with Chris Rankin, the School of Architecture's webmaster, to discuss the implementation of a blog, RSS feeds, a Swicki, a Visual Thesaurus, dynamically generated content, and adding videos to the VRC's Web site.  Chris was on-board with and excited about our ideas, and he will have the blog, RSS feeds, and a Swicki on the site with the next week or two.  He indicated that it may take a few days with the blog.  So, that is great news!  Now we just need a name for the blog!

I added the VRC to the external links section of the Wikipedia entry for slide libraries.  I also entered the VRC as an external link for a few other entries, but a Wikipedia administrator deleted those links.  For the Wikipedia section, I think it would be interesting to write an entry about the history of Visual Resources Collections, since no such entry currently exists.  But at this point, I don't think that would really be a constructive use of my time.

Today I worked on selecting images and writing copy about the new Web 2.0 services for a VRC ad that will appear in the School of Architecture's 2008-2009 daily planner.

I've also been finalizing the Marketing Plan.  I have created an index for the plan which lists the five goals in the VRC's strategic as well as listed goals for each technology at the beginning of each section.  I would like to incorporate a few more images into the plan, and I should be done with it by next Friday.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Marketing Plan

The last week has seen me working furiously to complete the Marketing Plan.  I am currently working on the Conclusion section of the plan, which discusses how the VRC can evaluate the usage of any new technologies implemented.  

Thus far, the plan includes sections on what can be implemented at the VRC over the next month, the next academic year, and during the period of 2009-2011.

Outlined below are my suggestions:

April - May 2008

  • Utilize the capabilities of Wikipedia  by creating an entry that describes the history and holdings of the VRC.  I will also add links to the VRC on relevant pages, such as slide libraries and Visual Resources Association.
  • Create a Swicki, which is a customized search engine, to search the VRC's Web Resources page, so that users can conduct a federated search of sites that have been vetted by the VRC.
  • Create a blog and write blog entries advertising VRC services and projects.
  • Writing meta description tags and title tags for the VRC's Web site.  These tags will be targeted to contribute to search engine optimization.
  • Creating RSS feeds for VRC content and adding RSS feeds on art and architecture news from the New York Times and the design magazine, Dwell.
  • Adding forms, such as a Digitization Request Form, to the VRC's Web site for users to download.
Academic year of 2008-2009
  • Adding dynamically generated content to the VRC's Web site, such as a box which promotes different image databases subscribed to by the University of Texas Libraries, web resources for finding images that have been vetted by the VRC, or sites that contain image scanning and presentation tips.
  • Creating Vlogs that show users how to find images in different resources.
  • Offering orientation sessions that introduce students to the VRC and allow them to sign up for different types of classes, such as "How to Find Images" and "Intro to PowerPoint"
  • Adding the VRC logo to slide projectors in School of Architecture classrooms and creating a background for digital projectors that contains the VRC logo.
  • Using tradition media, such as the Daily Texan, to promote the roll out of DASe.


  • Adding social tagging capabilities to the digital database, DASe.
  • Adding instant messaging services to DASe and the VRC's Web site and/or blog.
  • Putting discrete images collections in the VRC, such as Texas Architecture, in Flickr.
  • Adding mashups, such as Google Maps, to DASe, so that when users conduct a search on Frank Lloyd Wright they will find images and also locations of his works.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing

I also mention in the plan how creating faculty buy-in will help the VRC with promoting its resources and services.  Ways to create faculty buy-in include:

  • Meeting with faculty candidates during the interview process to discuss their images needs and how the VRC can help them.
  • Attending faculty meetings to promote DASe and other VRC resources.
  • Creating a tea hub at the VRC for faculty and graduate students, so that they become more familiar with the VRC's services, albeit in an indirect way.  Discussions over tea could lead to talk of how the VRC can help faculty and students with image needs.

The Beginnings of Plan Implementation
Next week, I will be meeting with Elizabeth Schaub and Chris Rankin, the Webmaster of the School of Architecture, to discuss the best way to implement a blog, a Swicki, meta description tags, title tags, and RSS feeds on the VRC's Web site.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Visual Resources Association Conference

Last week I attended the Visual Resources Association (VRA) Conference and I found two sessions particularly useful for my Capstone project. These sessions were Social Tagging in Online Collections and Improving Your Image: Marketing Visual Resources Collections.

Social Tagging

This session included presentations about non-subject tags, the Penn Tags project, the STEVE project, and the Fine Art Digital Imaging System.

The first speaker, Margaret Kipp, conducted a study on how users tagging items with non-subject tags like cool, fun, and toread in del.icio.us, CiteULike, and Connotea. Approximately 16% percent of the tags she analyzed were non-subject tags. They could be divided into time and task tags, such as toread, todo, and @toread, and affective tags, such as cool and funny. She believed that these tags represent an emotional attachment, and such tags might be beneficial for recommender systems like those used by Amazon.

Laurie Allen, chair of the Penn Tags project was the second speaker. This project was developed out of a desire to have persistent links that could lead users to relevant resources.  There were no stable URLs in Penn's catalog and Laurie Allen felt that was a need to save, describe, organize, share, and find articles for people who need to do research.  Consequently, she and other Penn librarians started the PennTags project.

Users must register in order to use this service, and the user's name is displayed by their tags. This means that there can be no anonymous tagging. Users can download a Penn Tags tool bar which grabs a page and allows them to tag it. It can also grab a thumbnail of an image. Users can then access a main page which displays everything that they have tagged and contains a Penn tags feed. They can also set the images they have tagged to change Penn Tags can be used to manage and share lists and some professors have allowed students to turn in extra credit assignments that consist of tagged items. The Penn Tags project has allowed the library staff to create flexible library projects and to share resources with their users.

The third speaker, Billy Kwan of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, discussed the STEVE project. This project was developed by museums to explore the potential of user-generated tags to access items in their collections. The participating include the Met, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum, the Guggenheim, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, LACMA, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Rubin Museum of Art, SFMOMA, the Skirball Cultural Center, Archives & Museum Informatics, and Think Design. This project is limited to registered users, but anyone can register. The Steve project can analyze tags by generating reports, and the project's preliminary findings indicate that most of the terms entered by users are useful for catalogers and almost half of them match terms found in the Getty's Art and Architecture Thesaurus.

The final speaker, Adam Lauder, spoke about the social tagging feature the Fine Art Digital Imaging System (FADIS), which is a catalog created by a consortium of Canadian universities. This feature was modeled after the Pennsylvania Museum of Art's site. In FADIS users can add tags by selecting the "Add a tag" button. This opens a box where you can enter a tag. Editors can remove tags and users can edit their own tags. The entered tags are stored in the backend of the database. This system seems easy to implement and very user friendly. I think that the VRC could implement something comparable in DASe.

This session was very interesting and it was great to see how collections are implementing social tagging. I think that it would be very beneficial to the VRC to implement social tagging for its collections, because it would allow for greater access to the images and I think that it would create a greater investment in the collection for the users. Based on these presentations, it seems that it could be relatively easy to implement social tagging and user input would would contribute to the findability of the images.

Marketing Visual Resources Collections

This session focused on tactics that are being used by the VRCs at the University of Chicago, Depauw University, and the University of Minnesota. All three speakers highlighted the importance of having faculty buy-in for their collections and spoke about the different marketing techniques that they have implemented. I found the presentation by Gretchen Witthuhn of the University of Chicago to be the most informative for my Capstone project.

Some of the tactics that Gretchen has implemented include:
  • Establishing the VRC as the coffee hub for faculty and students. The department supplies cookies and the VRC supplies the coffee and charges 25 cents per cup. This strategy has led to increaded foot traffic in the VRC and discussions about how the VRC can help faculty and graduate students with images and digitizing.
  • Hosting a welcome back party for students with popcorn. At the orientation students are invited to sign up for PowerPoint training.
  • Moving furniture and the slide collection to create study carrells for graduate students. The graduate students do not have offices and the VRC has created study space for them. This has led to more foot traffic.
  • Branding. They have created a poster for the VRC to put in high traffic areas, created bookmarks to hand out at orientation, put their logo on slide projectors in classrooms and put the logo on projector backgrounds and screensavers.
  • Updating the text on the VRC Web site to make it the 3rd hit for searches on digital images on the University of Chicago site.
  • Creating a blog for telling stories about the VRC. Possible topics include art history news, updates on digital projects, and VRC events.
  • Writing creative bios for staff members.
  • Becoming active in local activities to generate word-of-mouth marketing.
  • Meeting with candidates interviewing for positions and with potential grad students to talk about the VRC's services.

She also recommended ALA's @ Your Library Toolkit as a marketing resource.

Jodi Walz of the Digital Content Library at the University of Minnesota mentioned several strategies that would be useful for the VRC to promote the roll out of DASe. These strategies included:

  • Attending faculty meetings to promote the services.
  • Contacting the college newspaper to write an article.
  • Creating marketing tools, such as handouts and brochures.

The librarians at Depauw University discussed how they created their marketing videos, which are a take off on the PC/Mac commercials and feature students who represent Google Images and ARTstor. They worked with campus technology for training on software, wrote scripts, and hired student actors. If the VRC decided to create videos advertising their services, Depauw would be a great model. See examples of their videos here: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=depauw+vrc&search_type=

In conclusion, both of these sessions were really useful for learning about new marketing strategies and how to incorporate more user-generated content in DASe. I will be adding these suggestions to the marketing plan over the next week.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Environmental Scan

Last week I looked at peer institutions that the VRC has identified for benchmarking purposes.  I have linked to their sites on my del.ici.ous account, and these institutions include:

During my survey of these sites, I located some features that would be useful for the VRC to implement.  These include 
  • Incorporating new user orientations to the collection (Berkeley).  I think that it would be really useful to have an orientation to the VRC during the School of Architecture's orientation for first-year students.
  • Filtering image collection searches to certain collections. See Michigan's site for an example.
  • Adding the Digital Request Form online as a downloadable PDF (Ohio State)
  • Site of the month (Columbia).  They have some really great sites, but they haven't added a site for a few months, so even though I think that if the VRC did something similar, it is important to have a structure in place for maintaining it.
  • Image Instruction Blog (Cornell). This blog contains interesting information about image resources, and it could be a useful model for the VRC.
  • Arts Library Blog (Yale).  This blog focuses on Yale news as well as art and architecture news posted in the New York Times and other news sources.
I also looked at some postings from the Librarian-in-Black, and she discussed how one of her reviews on a restaurant review site was selected as the Review of the Week.  I think that something of this nature would be good to incorporate in the DASe database.  Having a 
"review of the week" might create more interest in the VRC's online collection.  This feature is something that the VRC should definitely consider implementing within the next couple years.

During the next two weeks I'm going to work on writing the Marketing Plan and my first task is to craft the goals of the Marketing Plan as it relates to the VRC's strategic.  Then, I will discuss how the Web 2.0 technologies discussed in the blog can help the VRC accomplish its goals.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Project Timeline

January 14 - February 8  -  Research Web 2.0 technologies, conduct literature searches and benchmark tools being utilized by peer institutions.

February 11 - 15  -  Gather usage statics for VRC Web site and DASe.

February 15  - March 21  -  Write Marketing Plan

March 24 - May 2  -  Implement applicable technologies