Project Information / Narrative
Narrative for Grant Application
Project Background and Description
The Olympic Peninsula of Washington State is rich in natural resources, history, and diverse cultural traditions. Native American, Caucasian, and Hispanic communities within the Northwest Olympic Peninsula recognize that important aspects of their culture and history are being lost. Many young people leave the Peninsula seeking greater economic opportunity and there are few cultural institutions in the region with resources necessary to undertake the important task of preservation and access. In addition, communities in the region have experienced cultural conflicts as a result of homesteading, tribal customs, immigration, tourism, aging populations, and the effects of a struggling natural resources-based economy. The Community Museum Project is a collaboration between The University of Washington Libraries, the Clallam County Historical Society (Museum), and other university and community partners to address the cultural challenges of the region. Community members will be engaged in all aspects of the project including identifying exhibit topics, selecting images, providing oral histories and curating exhibitions. The result will be an on-line community museum accessible through the World Wide Web and through kiosks located throughout the region and a series of associated exhibitions and workshops.
The idea for the project surfaced in April 2000. In conjunction with the Integrated Community Network project, 150 community members participated in a series of planning meetings to bring connectivity to all Northwest Olympic Peninsula residents. As a result of this planning process, a specific project became a top priority: create a virtual community museum that could serve as a learning tool for all community members by using technology to preserve and share history and culture.
The Northwest Olympic Peninsula's West End covers 1,500 square miles that are geographically defined by the Olympic Mountains, Pacific Ocean, and Strait of Juan de Fuca. The West End is a remote, rural community of over 13,000 residents from diverse cultural backgrounds including Native American (17%), Latino (11.2%), Asian (2.2%), and Caucasian (68.7%). Data from the school district show that 45.2% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch, 12.6% participate in special education, 9.6% are transitional bilingual, and 5% are Migrant. As diversification of a traditionally natural resources-based economy occurs, the community struggles to retain, attract, and develop the infrastructure necessary for health, education, and business needs. The diversity of cultural traditions in the region is one of its greatest strengths, but also brings a great challenge. When people do not understand one another's history and cultural traditions, miscommunication and misunderstandings can occur. In order to achieve their cultural, economic, and social goals, people of this region seek to improve their ability learn and work together.
Specific goals of the Community Museum Project are:
Northwest Olympic Peninsula community members realized that they did not have the resources to achieve the goals of the Community Museum Project alone. They approached The University of Washington to assist them, recognizing that the University could bring significant intellectual, archival and technological resources to such a project. The University also has specific related experience in library/museum collaborations gained through the “Crossing Organizational Boundaries” project, funded by an IMLS grant from 2001-2003, as well as related experience shaping university-community partnerships strengthened by expert use of technology through an office established for that purpose, Educational Partnerships and Learning Technologies.
Groups that have come together to participate in this project are numerous:
Modern communication technologies have made it possible to access information from almost any location. The last ten years has seen the widespread adoption of public use of the Internet and a push by public and private agencies to provide universal access. Results from community surveys show that 96% of Northwest Olympic Peninsula community users have access to the Internet in their daily lives. However, relevant local cultural and historical information still resides in centralized, physical collections such as libraries and museums, often located a great distance away from the majority of users. Or, this vital cultural information is cloistered inside the scrapbooks, barns, living rooms, and memories of community members. Museums and libraries across the nation and world are struggling with the task of providing meaningful access to their collections and developing strategies to build collections truly reflective of and useful to the diverse communities they serve.
This project will be a replicable national model for people in small communities that face challenges in accessing local cultural and historical information. The community-driven design, with benefits tied directly to the community, supports local ownership of the process and results. Community members are excited to tell their stories, curate their historical photographs and cultural artifacts, and rediscover their culture that has been physically archived in public and private collections or stored in attics, basements and personal files. Libraries and museums benefit from connecting with the communities they serve, cataloging new items from the community, digitizing their collections, and providing unprecedented levels of access to the general public, educational users, and lifelong learners.
The American public, as well as people from around the world, will benefit through direct access to more than 12,000 digitized objects, documents, videos, and oral histories documenting the lifestyle and heritage of various communities – including several American Indian tribes – on the Olympic Peninsula. As many of the resources to be included in the museum, especially objects, are now inaccessible outside the communities, the museum will be invaluable to anyone studying the culture, history, and social life of these communities from a distance. In addition, many of the documents to be included, while often published, are not widely accessible. Again, the Museum will rectify this situation. As we progress from this development phase, the number of objects and documents in the museum should grow significantly. With this rich array of material handily accessible via the World Wide Web, there will be a number of educational and scholarly impacts:
The Community Museum Project establishes a model whereby a large, urban, public university partners with small, rural community groups and tribes to provide training, technical assistance, and access to collections. Meanwhile, the community members themselves design and curate their own on-line exhibitions. The process used in the development of these exhibitions will be carefully documented and will serve as a model for similar projects in other regions of the country.
The Community Museum Project will create a cost-effective, workable model that may be adopted to promote sustainable and self-motivated lifelong learning by other communities. As a primary goal, the project will develop a traveling Community Museum Development Kit, a complete set of tools for creating a Community Museum exhibition. The toolset would include a scanner, digital camera, analog camera, digital video camera, lighting equipment, laptop, training software, and project implementation guidelines. Utilizing the Community Museum Development Kit, any community will be able to adapt the Community Museum Project to their specific needs.
A number of other rural regions in Washington State, home to a network of partnerships with the University of Washington, have indicated an interest in creating their own on-line community museums. In particular, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation passed a resolution to include this project in their long-range plans. Discussions have also taken place with communities in the Yakima Valley.
The question of adaptability is central to the project and has been extensively described in the above sections. Involvement by the diverse range of project participants ensures that the needs of a wide range of institutions, organizations, and population groups will be addressed. By developing their own specific regional goals, any other similar cultural documentation initiative could employ this structure for their own purposes.
The successful cooperation of museum curators, librarians, archivists, metadata specialists, scholars, technology experts, cultural specialists, and community members should also serve as a model to inspire other groups to join in innovative library/museum community partnerships.
In January and February 2003, interviews were conducted with fourteen leaders of educational, civic, and cultural institutions on the Olympic Peninsula. These leaders articulated the needs this project would address.
As a follow-up to these interviews, 310 surveys were distributed by partner organizations and businesses. Of these surveys, 208 were returned (a 67% response rate) from K-12 teachers, administrators, students, and parents, higher education faculty and students, business professionals, and the Hispanic community. The results show:
The results of the surveys clearly show that the community would use an on-line Community Museum to access cultural materials and to better understand each other's cultures. A significant percentage of respondents believe that promoting cultural heritage will help enhance the school curricula, increase tourism, and build better group relations in the region.
The design of the Community Museum Project begins with the formation of a project team of members from the communities, staff from University of Washington, and staff from partnering organizations. Following the needs expressed by the communities, under the expert guidance of an advisory board, the project team will design and carry out the project over a two-year period utilizing IMLS grant funds.
A primary design goal is cross-cultural collaboration and knowledge sharing. A community-driven model for surfacing, preserving, and sharing culture, history, and traditions and for increasing understanding within and between differing cultural and age groups will be developed and implemented.
Community members and local groups have the cultural artifacts, but lack the expertise and resources to provide access. The University of Washington has developed processes and expertise in digitization standards. The University of Washington has also developed the experience, infrastructure, and software (CONTENTdm) required to implement the Community Museum Project successfully.
Six on-line exhibitions will be prepared from September 2003 - August 2005, drawing on community and university expertise and resources. They will be chosen from the following possibilities, all suggested by the community.
In order to prepare an exhibition on each of these topics, the following steps will be taken: Cross-Organizational Digitization – the project team will surface, select, digitize, and create metadata for 12,000 images, oral histories, objects, and other cultural artifacts from a multitude of public and private collections. Multiple media including photographs, text, audio and video will be used in each exhibition. The community documentation team will interview community members to record their reflections and memories of the events and people depicted in the materials. Preston Gates & Ellis will develop the permission process for these activities
Documentation of Artifacts, Stories and Events – a community documentation team will be formed and trained to photograph objects in homes, videotape events and record oral histories. Community members will be invited to gatherings to show and describe objects related to the on-line exhibition theme. Preston Gates & Ellis, a leading intellectual property firm in Seattle will develop the permission process for these activities.
Collaborative Community-based Curatorial Process – a community process for selecting materials and generating commentary in each exhibition will be developed. In addition, a research librarian will do a comprehensive search of the collections housed in The University of Washington Libraries, particularly in the rich resources about the Pacific Northwest found in the Pacific Northwest collection and others maintained by the Manuscripts, Special Collections, and University Archives (MSCUA) Division. The librarian will identify images and documents relating to each specific cultural community or historical topic. Local cultural and historical institutions will search their archives as well. These images will be shared with community members and will be incorporated into the on-line exhibit as appropriate. In addition, The University of Washington Libraries will receive copies of all materials gathered by the community and these will be professionally archived and retained. Each collection and cultural artifact will continue to be held by its current owner. All online collections will be searchable as a whole.
Web Site Construction – Like most of the University of Washington Libraries' other digital projects, the Community Museum Project database will use the CONTENTdm Software, developed at the University of Washington by the Center for Information Systems Optimization (CISO). CONTENTdm programs provide tools to acquire, annotate, and upload multimedia data. Using client/server technology, CONTENTdm stores all database information and makes it available to CONTENTdm search software over the network. All CONTENTdm Server administration can be performed using a Web interface. Participating organizations can define the metadata for image and document indexing and then CONTENTdm provides a flexible template for customization. Search clients query the CONTENTdm Server to search and retrieve information. Queries can be done across multiple collections. Searches work via the Web using standard http protocols. Providing CONTENTdm, web design, and server space to all participants will ensure a consistent user interface, providing unprecedented access to a wealth of important primary resources. The site will be developed and hosted by The University of Washington. The presentation of the site will adhere to ADA standards for accessibility.
Another important aspect of this project is inclusion of the standards-based, scalable, and authentication/authorization access and other "middleware" control mechanisms. These are necessary to provide and control access to intellectual property which has varying constraints on use and access over networks. In the case of tribal communities, some cultural materials are felt to be appropriately shared only within a family or clan, others within a tribe, still others can be shared beyond the tribe with educational institutions only and, finally, some materials may be shared with the general public. These constraints provide a rich testbed for the inclusion of middleware solutions that have been tested elsewhere, mostly in higher education in such Internet2 projects as Shibboleth, Video-Middleware, and others. As with the web services above, the initial locus of activity and support of the middleware directory services will be at the University, with an eye toward engaging the community and tribes fully in these technologies and transferring control of the technology to the tribes as appropriate capacity is built over time. Communities involved in this project agree that there paramount concern is access and sharing of cultural resources and that technology transfer is a secondary concern. Internet2's Director of Middleware Initiatives, Ken Klingenstein, will consult on middleware strategies that will enable differentiated access to cultural materials and will be able to help leverage existing Internet2 middleware effort in support of this critical facet of the project.
Exhibitions and Arts Workshops – the launch of each on-line exhibition will be accompanied by a physical exhibition installed in a community location of some of the photographs, documents, and works of art included in the online exhibition. Two workshops, open to the community will be hosted by Peninsula College and conducted by artists whose work is included in the exhibition being launched. This work will be coordinated by the West Olympic Council on the Arts, who have committed to raise funds for the project.
Curriculum Development and Teacher Workshops – each on-line exhibition will be accompanied by curriculum materials and teacher workshops developed by the UW Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest.
Documentation and Training – the project team will create a model Development Kit that will contain all the tools and knowledge necessary to create a Community Museum. Training in photography, videography, oral history, scanning and creating metadata will be offered to community members.
Dissemination and Marketing – the Community Museum Web site will contain a section dedicated to project design, results, press releases, and promotion of the model program. The project is designed to be sustainable beyond the grant period. The software, toolsets, and processes will allow new images to be added at any time during or after the project. In addition, the Community Museum will also be used for on-line marketing of the arts and crafts of the region, and as a resource for promoting tourism to the area. These economic development goals will likely receive support from the North Olympic Peninsula Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Forks and Port Angeles Chambers of Commerce, the West End Business and Professional Association, and local economic development councils.
Management Plan and Personnel
The Community Museum Project will draw upon the expertise of authorities on local history, cultural collections, digitization, and Web design in appointing the Project Team and Advisory Council.
The University of Washington, through Educational Partnerships & Learning Technologies, has identified and will hire a half-time project manager based on the Northwest Olympic Peninsula to manage the project. This project manager will work closely with The University of Washington Libraries and the Clallam County Historical Society (Museum), as well as with the other community cultural institutions and groups. As a part of the preparation of each on-line exhibition, a community consultant from the relevant cultural community or organizations will be hired to coordinate documentation activities within their particular cultural community. The University of Washington will hire a research librarian and metadata specialist to manage the research and documentation process at The University of Washington Libraries and conduct training sessions in the community. Professional Web design consultants will be contracted for Web site construction. The Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest, a part of The University of Washington's Department of History, will create curriculum materials for each on-line exhibition and will conduct workshops for teachers. A variety of consultants will be contracted on a temporary basis to provide technical training and direction and support for specific cultural collections. Preston Gates & Ellis will provide pro-bono legal counsel.
In addition to the day-to-day work of the Project Team, the group will also harness the expertise of an Advisory Council, which has helped evaluate this proposal, and will meet as a whole a minimum of four times during the project to provide additional guidance and feedback. Each member of the Advisory Council brings specific skills, experience, and other resources. Historians, educators, and specialists in the arts, humanities, and technology are represented on the Advisory Council.
The University of Washington Libraries:
Educational Partnerships and Learning Technologies:
Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest:
The advisory council will be comprised of key personnel from the Project Team, above, as well as the following:
Evaluation is central to the project. Benefits to both users of the on-line exhibitions and to the participants in the creation of each exhibition will be carefully assessed. The following evaluation strategies will be developed:
As a Web-based project, the ongoing activities of the Community Museum Project will be widely available beginning in the fourth quarter of 2004.
Within the community – Each cultural and educational partner will actively promote the use of the Community Museum Project. Local cultural organizations and libraries will distribute flyers and link to the Web site on public access terminals. Each exhibition will be launched in the community with public events and celebrations. The site will be prominently displayed as a link in all Community Technology Centers on the Northwest Olympic Peninsula. Three Kiosks will be designed and placed in the community in high traffic areas to be determined. Tourism and business groups such as the Forks Chamber of Commerce, Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and the North Olympic Peninsula Convention and Visitors Bureau will link to the site and will use it to promote visits to the area. All participating educational institutions will actively work to use the Community Museum Project within existing courses and curricula and will develop new courses and curricula drawing on this resource. Building on a long history of success in this area, The University of Washington Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest will develop K-12 curriculum materials and teacher workshops to be field tested by the Quillayute Valley School District. These materials will be available as a part of each exhibition, on the Center’s Web site and as print materials. This Center is a part of The University of Washington History Department and the director of this Center will work to inform colleagues at The University of Washington of the availability of the site as a resource for their courses and research.
Statewide and nationally – The Community Museum Project Web site will include a progress report section providing timely information about the project. The project partners will utilize a variety of media to inform the library, museum, and communities about the Community Museum Project throughout the life of the project and beyond. The University of Washington Libraries will present findings at local, regional and national conferences. The University of Washington and the Clallam County Historical Society will issue joint press releases to highlight project milestones, and invite print and electronic media to learn more about the project and produce feature stories for newspapers, magazines, Web sites, radio, and TV. A web site (http://www.communitymuseum.org) will be produced documenting the project’s progress.
The Community Museum Project is designed to live beyond the two-year project period. With Community Museum Development Kits residing in the communities, new images will continue to be added to the collections by partnering organizations. In addition, the tools, processes, infrastructure, and trained personnel will allow entirely new exhibitions to be created by community groups and schools. Training in metadata development for participating community groups will continue on an annual basis as part of the Clallam County Historical Society (Museum)’s yearly plan of work. The training Web site will be maintained by The University of Washington as a part of the project. Metadata for images scanned and posted during the project period will continue to be enhanced as more information is created. The University of Washington will permanently host the databases for each member group. Additional funding will be sought from non-Federal sources, foundations and corporations to scan and post additional images from each participating group's collections. The University of Washington staff will continue to make themselves available to provide technical assistance to member groups.
The sustainability may be further enhanced with support from economic development initiatives involving tourism and cultural promotion. Also there is the potential for each partner to realize increased (or new) revenue from the sales of prints and/or licensing of images and to direct that revenue toward costs of additional scanning. Management of photo sales and licensing (including copyright protection, permission rights, deciding whether photo sales and licensing make sense for a particular organization, and selecting means of order fulfillment) will be covered in detail in the project workshops.