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- The new Victorian Collections website was launched online 23 January 2014. It provides online access to and engagement with over 20,000 collection items from around 200 small museums and community collections from across the state of Victoria (Australia).
- The new design with an object rich homepage clearly demonstrates the extraordinary breadth and depth of these community collections in ways that have never been possible before.The colourful grid layout also allows for objects without an image record to be displayed in a visually appealing way.
- The homepage and search pages with infinite scroll display the diverse collection items visually and encourage discoverability.
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- The website also makes apparent, the wonderful ‘back of house’ cataloguing work and imaging done by staff of small organisations and the many volunteers working in community organisations. When users view detailed object records for catalogued items, they are also provided with other recently catalogued items.
- Prominent on the home page is a search box that allows visitors to search uploaded items across all organisations or within a specific organisation – either by entering a simple search term, or more complex terms with search operators.
- The search feature also allows users the opportunity to search ‘collection descriptions’ as well as item descriptions. This means that they can located references to relevant material in collections of organisations that have not yet been able to upload catalogued items. This enables organisations to be visible on the website with very little effort.
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- The Organisations tab on the home page shows visitors the range of community organisations that are contributing to content – and convenient access to their up-to-date contact details and website information. Visitors can choose to search organisations via a map if that is more appropriate for their needs.
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- This website very clearly shows the extraordinary diversity of community organisations engaged with Victorian Collections: ethnic communities, historical societies, hospital archives, local museums, regional galleries, school archives, sporting clubs, veterans organisations, universities – as well as how they are geographically spread across the state of Victoria.
- Importantly, the website provides a free and simple tool for organisations to catalogue their collections online. Training programs are provided for staff and volunteers to help them use the simple online tools they require to contribute content. The website also provides ‘bulk upload’ tools for organisations that have items catalogued using other software, that they wish to upload and make visible online.
- For many organisations using Victorian Collections, this was their first step from paper-based cataloguing records to computer based records. Organisations are also given the ability to make records private or public, so sensitive records can remain secure.
- The website also includes a listing of all collecting organisations within the state of Victoria, whether they are cataloguing directly on Victorian Collections, or just providing their contact details for the comprehensive organisation search.
- Victorian Collections has an API so the data can be shared with Culture Victoria (Arts Victoria’s website of Stories, Collections & Places) and hopes in the future to be able to share this content on other sites such as TROVE (National Library of Australia’s collections aggregator site).
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- The website uses responsive design to ensure a positive visitor experience whether they visit on PC, tablet, phone or other mobile device.
- Note: I’m unsure if it qualifies for the Small Museum category. Although the website was developed by a not for profit sector peak body and state cultural institution, the website’s content providers and stakeholders are small museums and community organisations that hold cultural collections.