It’s been a long time with no update, which of course means things have been pretty busy over the last few months. The good news is that I’ve finished the second year of my Masters, passing all the modules (phew!), and so now I can count myself as a holder of a Postgraduate Diploma in Information Management! The last couple of modules were very challenging but also very relevant to the work which I hope to engage in over the coming years.
First there was the research module, in which I developed and wrote a proposal for a piece of research. It will come as no surprise to followers of this blog that I chose a metadata/knowledge organisation angle for this. I proposed an examination of how metadata and metadata standards can help (or hinder) the depiction of context in cultural heritage collections. This would involve looking at real world examples from museums, galleries and archives and examining how they use metadata and whether practitioners feel that it accurately and usefully depicts information about their collection objects. Such things as the provenance of an object, where it was made, who made it, who owned it and also ideas about what it represents or depicts. You can imagine that there is a whole range of possibility within this idea of ‘context’, and it’s an important part of archival and museum theory. I’m interested in exploring exactly how context is depicted within the metadata used by institutions, which is often not standardised across different organisations, and whether there may be a better way of representing it.
To help me really get into the mode of thinking on this, I’m also going to be presenting my research proposal in the form of a poster at the CILIP Cataloguing and Indexing Group conference in August. I’ve never presented at a conference before so hopefully that will be an interesting experience, and I’ll be going to some of the other talks as well. Watch this space for a full report on all that in September!
The other module I completed this semester was the fieldwork placement, which is aimed at getting some experience of working in a role or project related to information management in some way. My particular placement was with the International Society for Knowledge Organisation (ISKO), of which I am a member. They very kindly offered to let me work on the preliminary stage of a project to organise some of the information on the website of the UK chapter. ISKO holds many events and usually records each one in some form. As a result they have a large repository of documents, slides and audio recordings which contain a wealth of useful information of interest to the knowledge organisation community. These are organised chronologically at the moment, and it was my task to help decide on a better classification system which could aid users in finding talks and documents relevant to their searches.
The work was very interesting. I got to analyse a sample of the repository and extract the main subjects for classification. In the end, I proposed a poly-hierarchical classification and gave a small example of what it might look like. This was just a feasibility study, so there’s a lot more work to be done, but I was glad that I could produce something at the end of my placement which may be of some use. I also met lots of other members of ISKO when I attended one of the conferences earlier in the year, and it was interesting to get a range of perspectives from other members during my placement.
So now I’m starting to think about what type of work I’ll be doing in the future. There are many arenas to explore, but I think I’m definitely leaning towards the metadata/classification area. My great hope is that I can align this with my other interests in cultural heritage, and I’ve been trying to develop the required skills and knowledge for this area in particular. There’s still a little way to go yet, and changing careers is often a struggle and a gamble, but I think I’m getting there. One step at a time….