Thanks for the input sofar. I was hoping there would be some low priced commercially available alternative.
At the moment my collection is not so large, say 50 prints and probably 150 books and then there are negatives of my own work and other related items such as printed matter and camera's and lenses. but it will grow i'm afraid..
I want to be able to have a structured overview of this. Maybe the best thing to do is to start something myself in Access and see of that works for me. I understand the decisions that need to be made before starting this, and will think about those.
If someone has experience with commercially available software, please chime in..
I use the program I use to create web pages, Citydesk . I basically create a website on my hard drive. I put a large scan of each negative on a page, and put the BTZS data from my Palm in a sidebar. I create index pages by year, negative size, and a few by topic, such as "Driftwood."
The software allows me to sort by keyword, so I can have each image show up in whichever indexes I want. I also put thumbnails on the index pages so I can quickly scan through my images.
To find the negatives, I simply number them sequentially by year and put them in a file drawer.
I've done some pretty extensive research into this actually - and I find that the software best at cataloguing/tracking digital assets (photos) are probably the best for your hardcopies too! I've tried extensis, canto and other products. One of the most intriguing I've found, I have to say, is also the cheapest - iPhoto (bundled with mac systems). You can search by many variables. It's suprising how flexible it is. AND you can store tons of information about photos (exposure, printing, etc) on different levels (within iphoto - or by system level, searchable outside of iphoto...
if you're interested - let me know... I'll fill you in on it.
this program I described using Access--they were able to customize a spreadsheet layout that let them enter the accession and/or receipt numbers of items, the physical location, and the descriptions, plus images. but they already had a collection in place, using this information.
the numbering--you can find a lot of information about the conventions for this if you look at archival management sites, or go to the library. there are style books on vocabulary, books on MARC etc. websites too.
we started to use Adobe Bridge at work, for our scans of our analog files. Using the accession numbers as the file name--we place a condensed description of the item first, then the number. For multiple views, we use a lower case letter, starting with "a". The ReDiscovery program works that way, so we can generate thumbnails and use the images in the database. In the File Info part of the IPTC metadata--we enter all the source info and usually write captions based on the curatorial info from ReDiscovery. You can also input any usage restrictions as well.
when we need to find something--what we need is a number. Not a thumbnail, or a print--but a number. A description means nothing. Everything is filed in enclosures in cabinets, sequentially by number. A picture of a gun might be next to one of a coin and so on.
There are multiple sets of numbers within the same files, meaning different things. Some are the *exact same* number, only with a different prefix, adding to more confusion, unless you know the numbering convention.
To access this--you have to look on the database--ReDiscovery--find the number and then go to the file. It's the same with trying to find the physical object as well. Same there--without a number, you won't find it, unless you just want to start digging out of curiosity.
ReDiscovery is flawed as an all purpose database, because it was set up to handle the written files. The images are low res thumbnails, less than 15K, and often are poor quality snapshots. Yet--that is the database used by the general public online as well as internally. The internal version has more fields--covering conservation, management, curatorial etc. The one online is very simple actually. The problem comes in educating people that what they see there as a picture is not what is in the actual Photo Dept. records. It's the gateway to those records, because it gets you the numbers.
The archive has one collection--newspaper negatives, 70 yrs worth--that can only be accessed by date. If you don't know the date *of publication*--you have to look at reels of microfilm copies of the newspaper to find it. Inside the file for that image, there may be more than one negative, there may be more than one roll even. But you won't know what those alternate shots are, because the only way they're filed is by date of the image used in the paper on that one day. This is an inherited system from the company that donated the images, but it's an example of something that worked for what they needed, but now, is rather time consuming in use.
The rest of their collection is filed with standardized numbers--some are like PC for photo collection, N for negative and so on. Similar to our accession numbers. Year first, period, number of collection within that year, period, number within that collection. For example N2006.100.1. For the databases, you generally use an underscore for the periods. N2006_100_1.
It's confusing--but there's a wealth of free information out there if you look. almost all these archives are gov't--they have their collections info online as public documents. If you want to learn more, just check out their websites, or go visit.
my opinions only, even at home.
I had something very sophisticated written in Access. It began as a shareware program, but was then given free by the author, it was written in the first version of Access, I updated it a couple of times to newer versions but now it needs rebuilding.
Originally Posted by Rik
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that Access database you had, is that still available? It's allways easier to have a start than to start from scratch...
May I suggest Jigsaw? It's a project from the W3C. Jigsaw is a java server for images. It uses Dublin Core for classification. DC is flexible and extensible so you can index your catalog to your heart's content.
Originally Posted by Rik
On the plus side, it's free, platform independent and developped by the World Wide Web Consortium.
Down side, well, it's a W3C project! The documentation can be a daunting task to understand.
one way to do this would be to treat the books, cameras, lenses etc as all one type of item. treat them as objects. treat the negatives as a separate item--give them an N number for example. the prints would keep the same number as the the negative file number. This is what we do for our prints, same with the archives for prints generated off negatives or slides etc. For roll film--you can add the frame number to the file name. we use a prefix for the type of record as well, for roll film. For example here's a number for a picture of a conservation shot: C (conservation)--C2007_0509_1(13A). That's today's date, the first roll in that group, and the frame number.
Originally Posted by Rik
The objects--you would start your accession numbers with the year they were acquired. the next number is sequential as the collections fall within the year, then the next number is the number of items within that collection. So let's say you get a new camera, and it's the first one you get this year. It's 2007_1_1. The lens that's on it, get's a number as well. 2007_1_2. The hood gets a number. 2007_1_3 and so on. Let's say you get a flash next, only it's acquired later. It becomes 2007_2_1.
You can group items pertaining to something within the file this way--or let's say you're given a whole closet of camera gear. It would take the same number in the first two fields, except the last set of digits would change. 2007_3_1-150 for example, and you'd break each out 1,2, thru 150 for example.
A receipt is something that has just been acquired and is in a holding pattern--maybe you'll keep it, maybe you borrowed it, or maybe you decide to give it back. These numbers just start at 1 and go up. If they become part of your formal collection--they get an accession number. In your database, or log book or whatever--you have a field for this change in numbering. This is very important in terms of photos--if you have something that you have copied this way, and the *copy* remains in your files, with the original being returned--it will always be this receipt number.
so--if this makes sense?--start with your negatives. try to set up the system for them, identify the prints made from them and use that numbering scheme. it's like building a pyramid (or a house of cards...) start small--lay the foundation.
that's collection management 101 from a museum photographer--not a registrar....
thanks for your elaborate posts ! i will have to print them and carefully read them again, but i do start to understand the complexity and need to do 'pre-work' thinking. As stated, once you started with a system, its hard (impossibe?) to change it again.
thanks again for your valuable input!
Hey Rik, I am always working in files and folders on my Mac machine which presents a pretty straight forward if not filing cabinet type of access. Folders can obviously be labeled anything from year to subject matter to whatever. Keyword searches thru the O.S. present the fastest way of finding a particular picture, book or whatever. All files can be viewed at once or based on any criteria and in the Mac system thumbnails can be attached. Just a kind of down and dirty way to go....Juans suggestion of creating a website on your harddrive is another excellent way to go since you use the metadata to search by. Many word processing programs also automatically create web pages which can be stored in a file and accessed thru your browser.