Saturday, May 19, 2018

Cartoons?! Digitizing and Cataloging Challenges...

Nguyen, Jennifer

Dyer, M. A. (2014). Full Speed Ahead: The Challenges of Cataloging a Historic Editorial Cartoon Collection. Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America, 33(2) 279-294.


This article is about the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Libraries digitizing [the Charles Henry Sykes Cartoon Collection] of original editorial or political cartoons from the 1940s. Multiple library departments and staff involved in the project included the digital collections systems librarian, the digital specialist, the Digital Scanning Unit, and the metadata catalog librarian. There were cataloging issues due to missing or lack of information about cartoons donated. Image cataloging issues surrounding what the image is of versus what image is about. Scholars scrutinize the lack of cultural context provided with image digitized. And Dyer, wants us to note importance of text used in cartoon, as there aren’t many text used to begin with. Some solutions found were to obtain original newspaper and editorials the cartoons were printed in, document and note front pages of newspaper that contains cartoon to figure out the context of the cartoon. Only with context would we understand the humor of the cartoons drawn by Sykes’.

I was looking for ways and how librarians digitize images while researching for presentation 4. I tried to understand the process of digitization so that I can mention it in the digitization of a collection at the academic library I have been studying all semester. This article showed a whole other dimension of digitization that I hadn’t thought of before: cataloging and digitizing dated materials. It wasn’t as simple as I had thought of it. Apparently, it isn’t as easy as scanning and inputting the metadata information. Dyer does a great job explicating how cartoons work, the context and information to catalog, and additional research needed to fully catalog one cartoon image.

This makes me think about how Instagram functions. Images are often posted, but the source, creator, or information isn’t mentioned, just a partial caption underneath the image. Instagram will make it hard for information professionals to categorize or search for images there. But Instagram has hashtags. Some hashtags often used have nothing to do with the image, but more about what the person posting the image has done. Heck, even I have had trouble searching for a restaurant or place I randomly found an image of on Instagram. It takes me an extra 2 to 20 minutes following hashtags, tagged profiles, and locations to find an art exhibit.

            Overall, read this article if you’re thinking about cataloging, digitizing, and working with images during your librarianship. Dyer writes an easy and coherent article about VCU, Sykes, and the struggles of cataloging historical editorial cartoons.

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