Title:Starting Small, Thinking Big
Authors:Alison Melrose
Publication:MW2002: Museums and the Web 2002

This paper discusses the problems of getting started in web publishing for those of us who have collection information which we wish to share but have limited resources. It presents the practical aspects from a collection documentation point of view, slotting in the relevant technical language and web jargon. It is based on the experience of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG), the smallest of Australia's state museums and unique amongst them in that it is a combined art, social history and natural history museum, and includes Tasmania's state herbarium. We regard ourselves as small because in the museum collection world our individual collections are small. Our problems and solutions are nearer those of the small museum than the large. We use volunteers for data entry, we think twice before expending $500 and we have an obligation (by Act of Parliament) to provide information to our public. At the other end we need to comply with government and discipline metadata standards, and are part of Australia's national collection projects including Australian Museums On Line (AMOL), Australian Virtual Herbarium (AVH) and the burgeoning consolidated access to Australia's biological collections with the working title OZCAM.

This paper covers the practicalities of developing collection databases then publishing and maintaining the information on the web using limited resources. It considers first, the two ends of the process, getting the information organised into a database and maintaining it on the web. Secondly, it considers the technological questions in between. Specifically, it uses the cross-platform, application FileMaker Pro as an example of a readily available database package that small museums can use to produce a whole solution or as a stepping stone to greater things.