I’ve almost wrapped up my first assignment for my internship, cataloging 110 images this week, and I think it’s going pretty well so far.
I learned two good lessons this week – let it go and don’t make assumptions. To quickly recap, I’m doing a digital asset management internship, assigning information to images. One challenge that I’ve faced so far is that while adding subject terms to images, I want to add a subject for Every Single Thing (of importance) in the image. I felt like I wasn’t doing a good job unless I could add a term for everything.
Two particular groups of images in my first assignment have posed a challenge; the first because it has two people I couldn’t identify, and the second because it has a theme I couldn’t identify. I spent some time trying to figure out who were the people in the first group of photos, looking up all of the museum’s trustees to see if any matched. These two men are of clear importance because they’re making a presentation at an event, so I really wanted to find their names. My site supervisor didn’t recognize them and I wasn’t able to find them through images searches, so I wasn’t able to add more specific subject terms to these images. The second group of photos shows people formally dressed walking around an exhibit. I made the assumption that they were donors because of the way they were dressed and since I found that there was a donor event on that day. But, my site supervisor wasn’t so sure about that assumption, so I ended up not using the subject terms related to donors. In both cases, I had to just let it go with the confidence that someone else will figure it out at a later time.
I’m learning that digital asset management is an ongoing process. If I can’t identify something, it’s okay. It can always be added later. And if I don’t know what something is, don’t guess and don’t assume I have figured it out. It’s critical to have correct information that patrons (in this case, the NHM’s staff) know is 100% reliable, not a mix of accuracy and good guesses. It’s better to not describe something at all and come back to it later than to describe it inaccurately. Although I will still continue to try to figure out all of the relevant subject terms for each image, I now feel more comfortable in moving on if I’m not able to do so.
Hours worked: 10