A Digital Library Exhibit

Cables and LaceIn my previous post, I discussed the creation of my digital library, the development of a Collection and Content Policy and the issues I encountered when creating metadata for the collection. The final part of this assignment for our Digital Libraries (IS40560) class was to create a poster or exhibit about the collection, either as an online presentation in Omeka or as a paper-based poster. I created an exhibit called Cables and Lace. Below is the essay I submitted detailing the visual choices made as well as challenges and issues related to information presentation.

For my exhibition I decided to focus on two different knitting techniques that serve a similar function but in very different ways. I hope that my exhibition will inspire users to consider different knitting techniques and how that can enhance the overall knitted items well as motivating users to consider how these techniques can be used in non-traditional ways. The exhibition also serves as a marketing tool to draw in new users to the library by using strong visual elements. Items in the exhibition are taken from a range of collections within the digital library to encourage users to further explore the digital library as a whole rather than focusing on individual collections.

Exhibition inspiration

Cables and Lace, as explained in the introduction to the exhibition, are two means of adding texture and visual interest to a knitted item in very different ways. Cables use crossed stitches to add density to the knitted fabric while lace techniques open up the fabric by using various increase and decrease stitches.

The exhibition also aspires to inspiring users to consider non-traditional ways of using these techniques. For example, within the Cables section of the exhibition the example is given of a knitted necklace designed to give the illusion of a cable. Similarly, the girl’s dress in the lace section of the exhibition shows how use of lace techniques can add interesting detail to garments. A blanket is also featured in both sections of the exhibition, showing how lace and cables can be used together with interesting effect.

The exhibition also serves as a marketing tool for users who may still consider knitting as something their Granny does. I hope to dispel the myth that knitting is only for older ladies who knit Aran jumpers for their families. The examples used within the exhibition show that knitting can produce beautiful, modern and versatile pieces.

Exhibition Design

The design of the exhibition uses the same theme as the whole digital library. This should give impression that it fits seamlessly into the library, rather than feeling like a separate website. It is designed to give context to the wider collections and as such function as part of the library.

Adding two distinct sections – cables and lace – to the exhibition allows the user to compare and contrast the two techniques while the addition of the blanket to both sections serves as a link between them. Within each section I chose a highly visual layout that highlighted the images of the items. I hope that this is not only aesthetically pleasing to me but I hope this would also appeal to my users.

Challenges

Similar to challenges faced with Omeka, my main frustration was the limitation in control over how things display. For example Omkea asks the digital librarian to create an exhibition, then to create sections within that exhibition and finally to create pages within each section. While I can see the logic of this within a larger exhibition, for a smaller exhibition such as Cables and Lace this adds a lot of redundancy for the end user. I would have preferred the option to simply add my content directly to the different sections rather than having to create additional pages within each section.

From an aesthetic point of view I would have preferred the option to add a logo or selected images within the collection to the front page of the exhibition, however this is not possible. We live in a society with a limited attention span and the addition of visual interest to the front page of the exhibition would give the opportunity to entice users through our virtual doors.

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