Communicating Use and Reuse in the Digital Collection Interface

Image Background: “Woodcut of Mainz from the Nuremberg Chronicle”, Wikimedia Commons.

How we display information can often tell us something about it. For GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museum) institutions, the collection interface can be a medium for communication.

In developing open access policies which define the use and reuse of collection content, user interface decisions can serve as a means of communicating these terms to the user.

In navigating digital collections, a visual indicator can be the tether between a user and the terms which guide how they can use collections content — in this review of current practice, these visual indicators will be referred to as open content identifiers.

The British Library, Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts

In 2003, The British Library’s Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts became available to the public as a “searchable database of some of the western illuminated manuscripts”.

In defining the terms use, Access and Reuse Guidance Notes for the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, identify a CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication for collections content. In this example, The British Library’s Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts uses the collection interface to help communicate these terms of use.

Case I. Royal 1 B XI, The British Library, Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts

In this example, the open content identifier is located directly under the image, just above the Description and Origin fields. The identifier shown is a 66 x 23px Public Domain mark in .jpg format, linking directly to the external overview of Public Domain Mark 1.0 maintained by Creative Commons. Directly to the right of the visual identifier, we read:

“This image identified by the The British Library, is free of known copyright restrictions […] For further guidance on use of public domain images please click here.”

As part of the text segment included in the open content identifier, the word “here” links directly to Access and Reuse Guidance Notes for the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts.

Royal 1 B XI, The British Library, Catalog of Illuminated Manuscripts

J. Paul Getty Museum

Announced in 2013, the Getty’s Open Content Program “makes available, without charge, all available digital images to which the Getty holds the rights or that are in the public domain to be used for any purpose.”

Case II. Initial G: Saint George and the Dragon, J. Paul Getty Museum.

In this example from the J. Paul Getty Museum, the open content identifier is shown directly below the image and above description fields — linking text to internal terms of use:

This image is available for download, without charge, under the Getty’s Open Content Program.”

In this example, the text reading “Open Content Program” is linked to the related program overview.

Initial G: Saint George and the Dragon, J. Paul Getty Museum

Walters Art Museum

Under the Walters Art Museum’s Policy on Digital Images of Collections Object Usage, the museum has chosen a CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication “to waive copyright and allow for unrestricted use of digital images and metadata by any person, for any purpose.”

Case III. Maritime Atlas, The Walters Art Museum.

In this example, the open content identifier is shown directly under the image as a Creative Commons logo, reading “Creative Commons License”. This identifier is shown to the left of object description fields and download options. It should be noted that while the identifier shown indicates a general Creative Commons license, the Walters’ Policy on Digital Images of Collections Object Usage supports a CC0 license as of 2015 after shifting away from the more restrictive CC BY-SA 3.0 initially adopted in 2012.

In this example, terms of use are accessed by selecting the identifier, which bring the user directly to the Policy on Digital Images of Collection Objects Usage maintained by the Walters Art Museum.

Maritime Atlas, Walters Art Museum

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Just as the digital collection interface may communicate policy decisions, they may also come to reflect changes in policy over time. This is well demonstrated by changes to the terms of use and user interface of the Metropolitan Museum of Art digital collection between 2016 and 2017.

In reviewing the digital collection interface of the Metropolitan Museum of Art before and after the adoption of an open access policy, we can see how changes in policy impact the collection interface.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016: Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC)

Before adopting an open access policy in 2017, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC) program guided open access to collection content for the institution.

Case IV: Section from a Qur’an Manuscript (Archived August, 2016).

In this past example, the identifier was shown as a small bordered icon, reading “OASC”, located directly under the image and above object description fields inline with options and tools. This identifier was linked to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Image Resources (Archived August, 2016), which included the terms of use for content included in the Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC) program.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2017: Open Access Policy

Case V: Section from a Qur’an Manuscript (Archived December, 2017).

In this current example from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we can see changes in the collection interface following the adoption of an open access policy. Here, we can see that the open content identifier is shown in the same location of the interface, but with some changes.

While the location of the identifier in the collection interface remains below the image and above description fields, it now reflects changes made as part of the Open Access Policy — reading Public Domain in a bold sans-serif, preceded by an 0 to represent the Creative Commons CC0 license enacted by the policy. This open content identifier is linked directly to the description of the CC0 license maintained by Creative Commons.

Section from a Qur’an Manuscript, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Shared Practices

  1. Where was the open content identifier shown in the collection interface?

In 4/4 examples, it was shown directly below the image. In 3/4 examples, the Walters Art Museum as the exception, the identifier was shown above the description fields.

2. How were licensing and terms of use conveyed using an open content identifier?

In this set of four examples, 3/4 institutions apply an open license to open access content while 1/4 do not:

Of the institutions that have selected a license, that license is always referenced within the open content identifier.

Institutions that have not selected a license name the program or policy which release the content under open terms within the identifier.

3. What information does the open content identifier lead to?

In all four examples, the open content identifier always links to supplementary information related to the use or reuse of collections content.

Summary

In response to the growth of open access policy adoption across GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museum) institutions, finding the right way to communicate these terms in the collection interface will be key in how we share our collections in the future.

In digital collections, an open content identifier connects policy to the collection interface, highlights open access materials, and guides the use and reuse of collections content.

By reviewing how institutions are using open content identifiers, we can recognize current practice, and inform decisions and standards of practice in our collections moving forward.

References

  1. Open Content Program, The J. Paul Getty Trust.
  2. Terms of Use/Copyright, The J. Paul Getty Trust.
  3. Background, The British Library, Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts.
  4. About the Online Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, The British Library, Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts.
  5. Access and Reuse Guidance Notes for the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, The British Library, Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts.
  6. Getty Announces New Program Lifting Restrictions on Use of Digital Images, The J. Paul Getty Trust, 2013.
  7. Policy on Digital Images of Collection Objects Usage, The Walters Art Museum.
  8. Walters Art Museum Goes CC0, OpenGLAM, 2015.
  9. Image and Data Resources, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  10. Image Resources, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016.

Archived Source Content