A Look Back: 2019

Photo of Cepaea nemoralis
Cepaea nemoralis

Over the past year, we have introduced you to our grant, our institutions, some of our staff, and the world of digitization. We have cataloged more than 4,000 shells, taken over 2,000 photos, processed each photo multiple times, and captured the metadata for each file.

Well…now what?

As with any project of this magnitude, there are inevitably a couple of bumps along the way, but there’s one bump in particular that we’re currently working on.

How do we use all of the information and files we have amassed?

To answer this question, we have to refer back to the goals of the project which are:

1. To increase the availability of the collection to the public.

2. To increase access without the risk of damage to the objects.

3. To cross reference objects, archives, etc. across University organizations and across South Carolina.

In the first iteration of the grant, from 2016-2018, the digitized information was sent across campus to our digital libraries team. There, the information and files were uploaded to a digital collection management software, CONTENTdm. Digital Collections of the University of South Carolina displays the information in a searchable database. At that point the information was harvested into our Historic Southern Naturalists website. And now is where we expect you’re asking the obvious question: Why don’t we continue with the same procedures, right?

Screenshot of the Historic Southern Naturalist website database
Snapshot of our database on the HSN website

 Well…remember that bump we talked about before? We hit it, and it just might be the biggest bump yet. Our website was originally created by students and by now the students that built the original website have graduated, which is absolutely to be expected when working on projects in a university setting. (Congrats guys!) We planned to another student to work on the website…and then…we found out the University has stopped teaching the code in which the website was written.

OH NO!!!!!! (There really isn’t enough room for all of the exclamations needed to accurately express this sentiment.) So, this is where we find ourselves going into winter break and year two of our biggest IMLS grant ever: Looking for a new way to make our website accept information without having to completely rebuild it.

Not to worry dear readers, we are supported by the greatest University in the nation and we will navigate this road…bumps and all…

To Be Continued in 2020.

Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season!

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About McKissick Museum

Established in 1976, we're located at the heart of the historic Horseshoe on the University of South Carolina's campus. Our collections date back to 1801 and provide insight into the history of the university and the community, culture, and environment of the American South. free and Open to the public Monday - Friday, 8:30am to 5pm, and Saturdays, 11am to 3pm, McKissick has a diverse schedule of exhibitions and programs. McKissick Museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums, operating within their guidelines for the proper care and safekeeping of these historical artifacts.

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