GLAM/Case studies/University of São Paulo Museum of Veterinary Anatomy

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This is a case study put together by User:Joalpe, about a collaboration of the meta:Wikimedia Community User Group Brasil. This project is highlighted in the continuation of projects described on the Digitization portal.

One of the images from the collaboration that became a Featured Image on Wikipedia.

Where the project started[edit]

The GLAM initiative with the University of São Paulo Museum of Veterinary Anatomy (MAV) was first discussed in the context of a partnership around an exhibition at this museum, called "Inside the Brain." I was there as a university professor, but I took this opportunity to present my Wikimedia experience (Joalpe) and the User Group Wikimedia in Brazil that I am part of (especially, Sturm and Horadrim~usurped). As Wikimedians, we had a meeting with the museum board in which we presented what GLAMs are and what impact we could have if we worked together on disseminating the museum collection.

The museum directors saw this initiative as an opportunity to increase the visibility of the museum collection. They were especially motivated to be part of a global movement of museums that collaborate with Wikimedia projects, especially the Commons. We have also discussed the idea of setting up outreach activities in the museum and the university department it belongs to, especially related to the Wikipedia Education Program.

It is worth noting that there is no good outreach material for GLAMs in Portuguese, and our outreach strategy would have been more efficient had we had this material available. Our UG has included in our 2017-2018 strategic plan the production of resources to be presented to potential partners.

First meeting with directors of the museum, in May 2016

How we developed the partnership[edit]

Here are the steps we went through for the project:

  1. Context: Since this was the largest partnership with a museum in the Brazilian context --a prior GLAM initiative had been organized with an archive in 2014-- we tried to assess how much work this activity would require, by understanding what we had and what we needed for this initiative work.
  2. Assess opportunity: Looking at the work that we had done previously, we evaluated the needs of the museum: the best aspect was that the museum already had all collection objects taken picture of by a university professor. The pictures were great, and the photographer was open to uploading them to the Commons, as long as his work was attributed -- so we agreed on uploading the images under a CC-BY-SA 4.0 . However, these images were missing strong metadata, since the museum had no formal inventory. Thus, when we negotiated the partnership, we made sure to make it a win-relationship for the museum, using the partnership to create this inventory.
  3. Pilot:We chose four images out of the hundreds that were going to be uploaded to test our ability to upload them to the Commons. This was a good thing: the pilot was initially unsuccessful: because we had little understanding of the OTRS procedure, Pictures were deleted, and we needed more help from community members to organize properly our work. To solve for this problem, we asked the museum to disclose in Portuguese and in English on their web page that this activity was taking place and to authorize specific users to be responsible to uploading material. We then created a specific institutional license template (Template:MAV-FMVZ_USP-license ) that we could include in all images as we uploaded them.
  4. One of the enhanced images, uploaded as part of the collaboration.
    Find support: As part of my work at the University of São Paulo, I secured a very small fellowship for a student to provide support to this GLAM initiative. His role was mainly to help museum directors to organize their formal inventory and to upload images to the Commons. An inventory is especially time consuming, so work rhythm has been slow: we have been able to upload 30 images every other week, with an estimate amount of work from the fellow of around 10 hours a week on this project. Metadata production involved three major steps: to find the precise species that are exhibited in the museum, to type content that is written on paper file cards onto an electronic database, pertaining mostly to conservation techniques, and to check information with two professors of veterinary anatomy.
  5. Share the work: Related to this initiative, we have organized an edit-a-thon on veterinary anatomy in a partnership with one of the museum directors. This activity was related to an edit-a-thon on neuroscience and mathematics we organized, with the support of a WMF Grant . Here are some pieces of documentation:
    • edit-a-thon site
    • Grant request
    • Grant.
    • Note: A good idea on this grant request was to ask for outreach resources we have been able to use in other settings, especially educational settings.
  6. Community engagement We saw increasing community interaction with the media uploaded from the project, and we think this engagement made it all the more valuable:

Outcomes[edit]

  • Images of the Museum of Veterinary Anatomy collection had been viewed 1,329,331 times in September 2016, according to visualization web tool GLAMorgan. In August and July, views rose to 1,252,169 and 1,179,834, respectively.
  • The success of the GLAM initiative with the Museum of Veterinary Anatomy was the occasion to spread partnerships with the 60 museums and cultural collections from the University of São Paulo. So far, partnerships with the Museum of Mathematics, the Museum of Geosciences and the Museum of Education and Games have been established:
    • At the Museum of Mathematics, metadata are not a problem, since the inventory is electronic, but they lack good images. Moreover, some objects are only well depicted if shown in movement. We have been successful in requesting a grant to the WMF to receive high-quality equipment to produce pictures.
    • The biggest challenge of the Museum of Geosciences is the size of the collection: the museum collection has over 5,500 objects. The museum has neither good pictures nor an inventory, so we will have to produce images and organize with the museum metadata.
    • The Museum of Education and Games is a small museum, but many objects that are exhibited there might be subjected to authorship and design rights. We are trying to consult a lawyer to understand possibilities of this GLAM initiatives.
  • Though each case is different, we have learned a lot from the GLAM at MAV, for instance, about the need of having a period in which we devise the day-to-day practice of the activity, and about the help students and community volunteers can offer.

Why did the project work?[edit]

Four elements appear to be key for the development of the GLAM initiative with the Museum of Veterinary Anatomy:

  • I was able to discuss the project as a "peer". I was able to reach the museum directors as being myself a university professor, not a random someone. As the wiki culture on our campus grows, I believe this need to show academic credentials might decrease.
  • The fact that the museum was able to set up the formal inventory of its collection in collaboration with our community participants --something museum directors really wanted to do for quite some time. Working on an activity that the GLAM wanted to do as part of their normal work ensured that we weren’t asking for “extra” work. This type of collaboration led us to a slow rhythm of activity but our bond with the museum has become very strong, thus giving us the opportunity to do more, for instance we now have an opportunity to organize an edit-a-thon for instance.
  • The fellowship that was granted from the university to a student, I chose was very important, since this student has been the most active person in the process of making the inventory and uploading images to the Commons.
  • The active participation of the Brazilian community, especially the UG Wikimedia in Brazil, was central to having images being appropriated in a fast pace and improved.

Lessons for similar projects[edit]

If we were to do this again, we would recommend the following advice:

  • Start by getting in touch with someone who is active on the Commons and could explain and orient you through OTRS procedures calmly.
  • Assess your resources and needs. Try to find efficient solutions for needs, looking for support. GLAM initiatives are fun, so many cool people --students and Wikimedia community volunteers-- will be happy to help out.

Working with student employees on GLAM Projects[edit]

The success of this project, was very much dependent on having an effective student worker who could generate the metadata we needed for the project with the help of museum staff, and university experts. When working with the student, we found it important that we planned for the following:

  • Writing a very objective activity project that described what his work would entail ( available here );
  • Providing introductory and advanced training, so the student understood --and got motivated about-- how his work was a means of spreading knowledge to wide audiences -- without this deeper knowledge the project would be less motivating.
  • Developing collaboration with professional staff:
    • Having the student and a professor work collaboratively on a category map on techniques of anatomical conservation (a content gap in the projects) that provided a conceptual framework for the work.
    • Having a general meeting with the museum director in which the student was able to provide his own inputs about how the workflow should happen.
  • Setting up a control spreadsheet that the student has gradually filled out as the work progressed, in which features of each picture we have uploaded were described: if the student had encountered difficulties to find categories, if there was a doubt about the metadata, and so on, we can engage them collaboratively in the document.
  • Engaging the student in outreach activities we organized, to engage both the student’s deep knowledge about the collection, and the student an opportunity to teach others the skills they had developed with the project during the workshops.
Similar strategies

Further reading[edit]


Similar projects and tools[edit]