GLAM/Case studies/The Children's Museum of Indianapolis/Image donation

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Foot binding shoes, an image taken by Daniel Schwen at the Children's Museum Backstage Pass event, chosen as Featured picture.

The central project of The Children's Museum of Indianapolis Wikimedia collaboration was the donation of images to Wikimedia Commons. What was unique about the Children’s Museum’s donation was the process established with collections staff to choose appropriate images and have them vetted by various levels of staff before their upload. The Wikipedian-in-Residence worked closely with collections staff to discuss what gaps existed in content and images throughout Wikipedia, and to find images without copyright restrictions that could fill these gaps. The collections staff was also heavily involved in the Backstage Pass event, where they took local Wikipedians on a tour of the collections space, pulled objects of interest, and assisted with the photography of the objects. These images were then uploaded to Commons in addition to the Children’s Museum’s uploads.


Research & Coordination[edit]

The Wikipedian-in-Residence researched the methods that other institutions used for uploading images and discussed options with the Wikimedians who had established parameters for the Cultural Partnership projects in Wikimedia Commons. She established a main page for the donation on Wikimedia Commons and worked with Wikimedians to decide the best templates to use for uploading the images. Wikipedians also helped with creating the image license tag, institutional template, and category hierarchy for the donation.

Image Selection[edit]

The image selection process was broken down by collections domains: The Natural Science Collection curator chose images that included fossils, casts, and specimens of a variety of animals, including dinosaurs. American Collection curators chose images of toys and cultural objects throughout American history. World Cultures curators looked to the topics on Wikipedia and listed images that would be useful to fill in gaps, some of which were images already taken by Wikipedians at the Backstage Pass, and others that were available through the museum. The museum’s legal counsel was also involved in confirming the chosen images as well as the language used for the copyright license in the image tag. The director of collections, head registrar, and the director of web and emerging media all weighed in on the chosen images, with help from the museum’s archivist.

Copyright Release[edit]

Many of the objects had been photographed by a professional photographer hired by the museum; it was confirmed with this individual that we release the images as cc-by-sa (although this was not necessary, as the Children’s Museum owned the images, we wanted her to be aware of the process). Many of the images were located on a separate database through the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library system, which were noted as being “Copyright of the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.” The museum changed this language within the database to reflect the museum’s new practices using cc-by-sa. In addition to the 30+ images uploaded to Wikimedia, a total of 1,000 images in this database were changed to cc-by-sa licensing.

Image Upload[edit]

Because of the relatively small number of images uploaded (about 30 in the first donation in February), and because it was important that each image be properly vetted for copyright issues, it was decided that the Wikipedian-in-Residence would manually upload each image, rather than utilize a bot as other institutions had done. The Wikipedian-in-Residence first worked with other Wikipedians to establish the necessary fields of metadata that should be included with each image, and then worked with the collections staff to compile all of the missing information on each object. Fields of metadata included the object’s name, description, maker, year, historical information, link to further information, and photograph source. The Wikipedian-in-Residence and collections staff also worked together to prepare file names for each image to ensure that they were accurate, searchable, and linked with the Children’s Museum. (For example, File:The Childrens Museum of Indianapolis - Atlantic blue crab.jpg). In preparation for the upload, all of the information for each image was compiled into a Google Doc spreadsheet and the Wikipedia code was prepared to be easily copied and pasted into the upload screen. With this preparation, the manual upload process was relatively seamless, and was able to be completed within an afternoon.

Future Process[edit]

After the initial donation, known as “Batch 1,” the Wikipedian-in-Residence worked with the collections staff to develop an Image Donation Worksheet that would be used to streamline the process in the future. This worksheet has concise directions and reminders about what images to consider, as well as a chart with fields for the metadata that the curators should provide.


By the end of March 2011, the 32 Children’s Museum images were being used in 19 articles on the English Wikipedia, which had a combined total of 157,590 page views.

In the Spring of 2011 one of the images taken by Backstage Pass event attendee, Daniel Schwen, was chosen to be a Featured Picture on Commons.