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published: March 2004
analytic scripts updated:
November 7, 2010

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License

Developing Collaborative Online Collections Using an Open Source Digital Repository: The Quilt Index Case Study
Marsha MacDowell, Michigan State University, USA
Justine Richardson, Michigan State University, USA

Demonstration: Your Colleagues - 1

This paper will present the results of the first two years of development of the Quilt Index, a comprehensive, trans-institutional online collection tool built upon an open source digital repository. The Quilt Index intends to provide access for both research and public presentation of the extensive documentation on American quilts and quiltmaking that now exists in a variety of locations and media ? in museums and archives, in public and private collections, on paper survey forms and in varied electronic formats. Utilizing the benefits of a distributed repository system and a comprehensive controlled vocabulary for descriptive metadata, the Quilt Index is addressing the need to balance centralized information access with preservation of local variation.

This paper will explore the major research questions explored by the Quilt Index: 1) development of comprehensive descriptive metadata for unique three dimensional objects, 2) integration of a distributed repository with OAIS requirements, 3) design, development, and adaptation of open source online repository with specific object type collections, 4) negotiating the standardization of online digital development requirements and the distinct and varied needs of local analog collections, and 5) expanded opportunities with exhibit and presentation development afforded by repository system.

In the development and deployment phase, the Quilt Index is directed by MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts Letters and Social Sciences Online and Michigan State University Museum (MSUM) in partnership with the Alliance for American Quilts. The central partnership between MATRIX and MSU Museum capitalizes on the strengths of their philosophies for collaborative partner projects, and their national and international reputations for humanities-based technology and programming. In addition the Index collaborates with four other partner institutions -- Library of Congress' American Folklife Center, Illinois State Museum, Tennessee State Library and Archives, and University of Louisville Archives and Records Center. Chosen for both the strength and range of their collections, each of these institutions and MSU Museum maintain important quilt collections and related data and has developed a distinct project to put quilt documentation on line through the Index. By the conclusion of this phase of the project, the Quilt Index will be fully operational and available for use by all institutions that document quilts, as well as a wide range of researchers, teachers and a general public. Cumulatively, the documentation projects of the five partners in this phase will demonstrate the academic value of the Index and ensure its immediate usefulness even as it grows through expansion to other collections.

When complete, the Quilt Index will be a central resource that provides access to contextual documentation and images of quilts from a wide variety of sources including (1) images of and documentary information about quilts in public museum and library collections; (2) aggregate information about privately held quilts compiled during the past 17 years by 56 state and regional quilt documentation projects in the United States; (3) bibliographies of secondary materials relevant to quilt study; and (4) finding aids developed to assist researchers with locating hard-to-find quilt-related primary and secondary materials in public collections.